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Hypocrisy

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Since this is, after all, the "Issues and Politics" forum and we have not really had much "politics" recently, I decided I couldn't let this one go by.

 

I always enjoy the exposure of hypocrisy, and in the past few days there has been a wonderful example of this, though done posthumously.

 

In 1948, when he was running for president, Strom Thurmond said in a public speech:

 

I want to tell you that theres not enough troops in the army to force the southern people to break down segregation and admit the negro race into our theaters, into our swimming pools, into our homes, and into our churches.

 

Actually the site I got this from said that there are many who believe, based on accounts from people who were there when he said this, that he did not actually say "negro," but that he actually said a different word beginning with "n" but all the newspapers of the day decided to "clean it up." In any event, this is only one of many segregationist statements Strom Thurmond made.

 

Now it turns out, while an army may have been insufficient to force the "negro race" into his homes, swimming pools, churches, etc., no army at all was necessary to get at least one member of the "negro race" into Strom Thurmond's bedroom. And a 16-year-old member at that, when Thurmond was 22. His family has acknowledged the claims of an elderly woman of "mixed parentage" that she is his daughter, that her mother was a black maid in the Thurmond household all those years ago, and that Thurmond sent her support payments for many, many years.

 

I always thought that Thurmond's views on race and segregation were reprehensible. Now it turns out that his views in public weren't quite the same as his views in private. Just another hypocrite.

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I don't know about that. I dated many girls that I didn't want to marry. Heck, I know I dated some girls that I really wouldn't want my mother to meet. Why'd I go out with them? It was fun. Both parties knew that the attraction was physical.

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We don't really know what the two parties felt towards each other, if anything. I am willing to assume that this was a classic case of sexual exploitation by the one in the superior position. Just like Bill Clinton. Not that that excuses anything done by either Thurmond or Clinton.

 

In any event, the unwillingness of white southern males of that era to remove the bars to full participation in society by blacks, was never a barrier to sexual relations with black females, willing or otherwise.

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FOG, and your dating history and motivations (which I really didn't want to know about) are relevant to the actions of a famous segregationist who slept with (and fathered a child with) one of the people he said should not be allowed to associate with "his people," is relevant how, exactly?

 

I do have to thank you, though. I had a bet with myself on who would be the first to disagree with me that Strom Thurmond was a hypocrite, and I had you to win. I lost the other part of the bet, though, because I thought that whoever was the first to disagree would actually say something relevant.

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So Thurmond's public views were fake? Interesting. He was just pretending to be a racist..

 

No, I think eisely and FOG are more on track here. A hypocrite is someone who preaches what they do not believe, not someone who lives inconsistantly with their preaching. Many hypocrites (the word means actor) live quite consistantly with their teachings.

 

The actively drinking alcoholic who advises others against drinking isn't a hypocrite. The individual who neither cares for alcohol nor believes it dangerous who preaches against drinking is a hypocrite. He may be a perfect model of his rhetoric, but he is a hypocrite if he doesn't believe it.

 

Strom Thurmond may have been a hypocrite, but that depends on whether he actually held racist views, not whether he was sexually attracted to the maid. I don't know whether it is worse to be a racist or to pretend to be one for political gain. It's not good either way..

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Strom Thurmond screwed up. Take that phrase any way you want to and it still works for me.

 

I thought his "family" did the right thing in accepting the heritage of the 78 year old woman who is his child.

 

DS

 

PS -- I put his "family" in quotes only because the world required no burden of proof from them.

 

 

As much as I hate to admit it, I agree with NJ on this one.

 

DS

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"I don't know whether it is worse to be a racist or to pretend to be one for political gain. It's not good either way."

 

This sentence could apply to anyone of a number of issues in politics today unfortunatly. Change racist to pro-choice, pro-life, fiscal conservative, pro-Iraq war, anti-Iraq war, or just about any issue your choose and it describes many of our elected officials.

 

How many flip flops have been pointed out in the media of many politicians depending on where they are in their career or which audience they are talking to?

 

We had one candidate for governor that when running for local office in the more conservative western part of our state state a strong pro-life message. When running for statewide office several years later, somehow had an epiphany and spoke of a woman's right to choose.

 

I'm sure you can all think of your own examples.

 

 

 

SA

 

 

 

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I think in common parlance, a person who secretly does acts which he condemns publicly is a hypocrite. I'm not sure that's a strong enough term of condemnation for a man who would support policies that oppressed his own child. Ogre? Slimeball? You can also add liar, since he denied it for years (so did she, but I guess she needed the money).

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Im not attacking or defending anything that Strom Thurmond may have or may not have done in his life. Frankly, while I know of him, I havent followed his career or studied his past. Even if I did, there are probably many other things about the man that cannot be known except by God. This is but one of many reasons I imagine that God tells us not to judge others. Although, I maintain we are free even encouraged - to acknowledge sin when we see it. In short, there is a difference between judging an individual and judging his behavior.

 

Having said the above, I do take issue with some peoples definition of Hypocrisy. Adrianvs gave good examples of what hypocrisy is not. Its not the inability to live up to an acknowledged standard. If so, then every Christian is a hypocrite. It does not escape me that many non-Christians believe this to be true. It also doesnt escape me that many non-Christians (and Christians for that matter) do not understand the faith. Many seem to believe that embracing the faith has more to do with Christs teachings (i.e., his standards) then Christs work (his atoning sacrifice on the cross). Certainly, we should embrace both. But if we are to be judged on our own works (i.e., our ability to live up to the standards set by Christ), then we will not see the kingdom of God. It is Christs sacrifice, his work on the cross that reconciles us with God.

 

Hypocrisy is overtly embracing a standard for one group or individual, while covertly embracing a different standard for another group or individual. Interestingly, I see another example of hypocrisy involving Senator Thurmonds legacy as a politician. However, in my example, he is the victim of hypocrisy not the perpetrator. Legions of democrats have often criticized Senator Thurmond and labeled him a racist for his segregationist views, which he abandoned in the 60s - decades ago. Yet, these same liberals purposely ignore the fact that Senate Byrd, a democrat from West Virginia, was a former Klan member. Those that dont ignore it, explain it away as a mistake made by a very young man. Yet, they dont extend this same courtesy to Senator Thurmond. Not so surprisingly, Senator Thurmond didnt incur much criticism until he switched to the Republican Party in the 60s; which happened to be about the same time he abandoned his segregationist views. Now, this is a prime example of twisted logic, if not outright - hypocrisy.

 

While I dont know what the inner thoughts were of either Senator, the Democrats are definitely guilty of establishing a double standard. Certainly, if Senator Thurmond is to be labeled a racist for his past segregationist views, consistency demands that Senate Byrd be given the same consideration for his membership in the Klan.

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Here we go with the dictionary again. First of all, the specific word isn't necessarily the point. In public, Thurmond was THE leading supporter of racial segregation and discrimination, but he engaged in relations with at least one black woman (really a girl in this case) and apparently took no precautions against bringing into the world a child who would have virtually no contact with her father for her entire life. Virtually no contact, that is, other than seeing and hearing him in the media, advocating that people like HER be kept in second-class citizenship. Hunt alluded to that aspect and as it happens, I was listening to a radio talk-show about this this morning, where one of the hosts said that the worst aspect of this is that after Thurmond fathered this child, he then spent the better part of his political career trying to deny HIS OWN CHILD the basic rights and freedoms of citizenship. Add to that (as this radio host also said) that this was a 22 year old man and a 16 year old girl, in what was really a master-servant relationship, really not that much different from slavery (keep in mind that this was in the South in the 1920's.)

 

(The difference in ages and the position of subservience that this woman was in, in relation to Thurmond, was another issue pointed out by this radio host, who thought that under today's laws, what Thurmond did might be considered statutory rape. (Which under today's laws is more complex than just considering age; for example in New Jersey the "age of consent" today is 16, but if the "suspect" is for example a teacher and the alleged victim is his student, the age is 18.) This isn't really the point in my opinion, since later in life Thurmond really was no "moral exemplar" anyway and was well-known for socializing (and sometimes marrying) women much younger than himself.)

 

What IS the issue is the inconsistency between what Thurmond advocated in public and what he did in private, regardless of whether "hypocrisy" is the right word. And here is the Merriam Webster Online definition of hypocrisy:

 

a feigning to be what one is not or to believe what one does not; especially : the false assumption of an appearance of virtue or religion

 

What Adrian is talking about is the second part of the definition and the "especially," which deal with the difference between what one pretends ("feigns") to believe and what one actually believes. But if the first part ("feigning to be what one is not") is read broadly, I think what Thurmond did fits into that.

 

Adrian, I disagree with your statement that whether he was a hypocrite (or other negative word of your choice) "depends on whether he actually held racist views." I personally don't know and have no way of knowing what Thurmond was thinking when he made all his racist and segregationist statements over the years. I don't think it is relevant. I do know that he promoted racism and segregationism, and fought for the right of Southerners to practice those things, which in my book makes him a racist and segregationist. And not just a racist and segregationist, but the leading one in the entire country, the only person (to my knowledge) ever to make a serious run for the presidency based on a platform of racial segregation (though an argument could be made for George Wallace in 1968, but it wasn't quite the same thing.)

 

But now we know that Thurmond was willing to make exceptions to those "avowed" principles in order to provide himself with pleasure. Is anyone defending that?

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Actually, you can judge the inner thoughts of Byrd and Thurmond by what they had to say. See http://slate.msn.com/id/2075662/. This points out that Byrd publicly renounced the Klan and said joining it was the worst mistake of his life. Thurmond, on the other hand, said he had nothing to apologize for and no regrets. When did he say this? 1998. Thurmond never renounced his segregationist views--although he did change his voting pattern to some degree.

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Just to make it clear, I posted my last message before seeing Rooster's. If I am going to respond point by point, it is going to have to be later. I do note that Rooster's is the first post in this thread to make a partisan point out of this situation, which is something that I specifically avoided doing. Rooster's post actually helps me win the second half of the bet I had with myself, because while I figured FOG would be the first to disagree with me, I also bet that someone would mention Robert Byrd and make a partisan point out of that. I listen to conservative talk shows on the radio when I can, particularly Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, so I know all the "talking points." Hannity, in particular, mentions "Robert KKK Byrd" any time ANY racial issue comes up, particularly when any Republican is being questioned for some statement or opinion relating to race. I am not saying that you get your stuff from anyone, Rooster, or saying there is anything wrong with it (since I earlier quoted a different radio talk show host myself), I just can't help but notice the coincidence.

 

I do have to point out this statement by Rooster:

 

Not so surprisingly, Senator Thurmond didnt incur much criticism until he switched to the Republican Party in the 60s...

 

That is just completely preposterous, Rooster. You say you haven't followed his career or studied his past, and this statement proves it. I also can't help but notice the partisan point associated with your statement, which is contrary to all relevant facts. The truth is that Thurmond led a march of Southerners out of the 1948 Democratic convention to form his own branch of the Democratic party and run for president on a blatantly racist and segregationist platform, and carried four Southern states, almost costing Harry Truman the election (the election being so close that it produced the famous "Dewey Beats Truman" headline); then was elected to the Senate in the 50's, nominally as a Democrat, and led the fights against every piece of civil rights legislation at that time, helping to delay the passage of major civil rights laws until the mid-60's... by which time he finally decided that his home was in a different political party. To think that he did not receive major criticism for any of this is just absurd. He was reviled as a practitioner of racial politics long before switching parties.

 

And by the way, I found an article that contradicts your suggestion that his switch to the Republican Party is somehow associated with his "abandonment" of racist views. (I know you said it "happened to be about the same time" but it looks to me like you were trying to draw a connection. And this article shows that the two events occurred more than six years apart, which in the context of the subject is not "about the same time" anyway.)

 

http://www.whiteprivilege.com/archives/2003/06/27/strom_thurmond_dead_at_100

 

This article says that he abandoned racial politics after a 1970 election in which his candidate for governor, who ran on a racist platform, was defeated. In other words, he decided that racism was no longer a route to political control in his state, so he decided not to use racism anymore. What his personal views were, or what they changed to be, if they ever did, is really besides the point.

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NJ,

 

When I mention my faith, or if I draw out examples that include my faith, it's not a pretence designed to irritate you. It happens to be a part of my everyday life. Its not something that I keep in a box and pull out for special occasions. I believe my comments were relevant. Im sorry if you do not, but perhaps they werent written specifically for you.

 

While one can argue very effectively that such policies were harmful to this country, most specifically towards blacks, the fact that Senator Thurmond once embraced segregation does not, in and of itself, make him a racist. In regard to race, there was more than enough ignorance going around this country in the 40s to lead many folks astray. You claim Thurmond changed his ways to gain political advantage. It could be trueI dont know. Nevertheless, you have no way of knowing that to be true, anymore than I do. Hunt claims that we know Senator Byrds inner thoughts because hes offered them for public viewing (i.e., hes publicly renounced his Klan membership and his past behavior). Am I to conclude that his change of heart was real and not politically motivated? This sounds like another double standard to me. Lets look at one of Senator Byrds quotes from his youthful days when he made a mistake. Read it. Then tell me what life experience what influenced Robert Byrd, to do a 180-degree turnaround:

 

"Rather I should die a thousand times, and see Old Glory trampled in the dirt never to rise again, than to see this beloved land of ours become degraded by race mongrels, a throwback to the blackest specimen from the wilds,"

 

Hmmm. Do you have a quote attributed to Thurmond that even comes close to being this racist and hateful? If so, how come Byrd (who filibustered the 1964 Civil Rights Act) is credited with having a change of heart whereas Thurmond is discredited as posturing for political gain? Again, I see a blatant double standard.

(This message has been edited by Rooster7)

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NJ,

 

Your second bet (i.e., that someone would mention Robert Byrd and make a partisan point out of that) was a self-fulfilling prophecy, which you accomplished by attacking a conservative politician for a crime that you knew a well known liberal politician was guilty of, yet failed to even mention his name. This race (no pun intended) was rigged.

 

That would be like if I created a thread on sex scandals involving President Clinton, but failed to mention Rep. Wilbur Mills, Rep. John Jenrette, Rep. Gerry Studds, Rep. Barny Frank, Sen. Ted Kennedy, Sen. Gary Hart, or President Kennedy. Oops, Im sorry those are all democrats! ;-)

 

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