It has been nearly a week since the memorial for the later Sen. Robert Byrd. One thing that has struck me in the interim is the stark difference between Robert Byrd and today’s Republicans congresspersons, some of whom (like Byrd) carry a copy of the Constitution in their pockets. That something is how teachable moments did not escape Robert Byrd, while one after another seem to roll right over the extant Congressional Republicans. Instead of doing better on the subject of race, for example, they seem hell-bent on not learning the lessons from the past. That Robert Byrd belonged to an extreme racist hate group has been well documented. But Robert Byrd learned what he needed to learn. And he did better.
To be sure, Republican gasbag (think Beck, Limbaugh, Coulter) Pied Pipers keep playing their same sick tune even as their fellow official Republicans follow them over the cliff in their racist attacks upon our president and other people of color. So much time has passed since the worst days of slavery and (later) official segregation. So many American have learned to do better, to be more respectful, indeed more loving to our fellow citizens. But these long-term trends have fallen from deaf ears of the gasbags and the pols who both bow to and mimic them.
It isn’t that these same folks have learned all that much from their reading of the Constitution supposedly in their pockets either.
There is also one important difference between the segregationists of decades ago versus today. While some of them were indeed Democrats, most of the same folks switched to the GOP, which launched its racist Southern Strategy.