Byrd the Butcher


I have often read that Tom DeLay was a former exterminator and that Dennis Hastert was a former wrestling coach. These characterizations have been a way to disparage these Republican leaders.

Why is Senator Robert Byrd never mentioned as having been a former butcher? If he were a Republican, wouldn't many in the press gleefully call him, "former butcher and KKK leader"? Instead they reverently call him a "Constitutional Scholar" which, judging by his educational credentials, he is not.

Ed Lasky  6 19 05


Betsy Newmark has some further thoughts on the Washington Post profile of Byrd, and the implicit slack they cut him:. She begins with an excerpt from the Post"

Byrd says he viewed the Klan as a useful platform from which to launch his political career. He described it essentially as a fraternal group of elites —— doctors, lawyers, clergy, judges and other "upstanding people" who at no time engaged in or preached violence against blacks, Jews or Catholics, who historically were targets of the Klan.

His latest account is consistent with others he has offered over the years that tend to minimize his direct involvement with the Klan and explain it as a youthful indiscretion. "My only explanation for the entire episode is that I was sorely afflicted with tunnel vision —— a jejune and immature outlook —— seeing only what I wanted to see because I thought the Klan could provide an outlet for my talents and ambitions," Byrd wrote.

Yup, just like joining the Rotary Club. He's just trying to sell his membership as what any ambitious up—and—coming young man would do in the West Virginia of his time. All that racist stuff was besides the poing and not really an attraction for young Bobby Byrd.

Yet, he was a leader of the organization. You don't achieve that without being on board with the purpose of the organization. And that was racism, pure and simple. And Byrd flourished in that organization. First he was the "Exalted Cyclops" of his local unit. I kid you not. These names are priceless. Then he became a Kleagle, one of the KKK's leaders in West Virginia. He argued vociferously against Truman's intergrating the military

Byrd said in the Dec. 11, 1945, letter —— which would not become public for 42 more years with the publication of a book on blacks in the military during World War II by author Graham Smith —— that he would never fight in the armed forces "with a Negro by my side." Byrd added that, "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."