There's a certain perverse appeal to watching someone make a total fool of themselves, such as with regular commenter and attack Bichon Frise "Dizzy Gillespie", who seems to remove one foot from his mouth just long enough to insert the other one. How else to explain here his recent slapdown of Senator Robert Byrd for Byrd's involvement in the KKK when he was younger?
Is there a point to Gillespie's comment? Byrd's previous membership in the KKK is well known, and is something that Byrd has been apologizing for for decades now. In fact, even Gillespie seems to be aware of this when he quotes from a Wikipedia article:
In a 1946 letter, he wrote, "The Klan is needed today as never before and I am anxious to see its rebirth here in West Virginia." However, when running for Congress in 1952, he announced, "After about a year, I became disinterested, quit paying my dues, and dropped my membership in the organization. During the nine years that have followed, I have never been interested in the Klan."
Um, yeah, he kind of lost interest. And it's a shame Gillespie didn't follow up on this with something a little more recent, like Timothy Noah's 2002 article in Slate, where we read the following exchange between CNN's Bernard Shaw and Byrd:
Q (Shaw): What has been your biggest mistake and your biggest success?
A (Byrd): Well, it's easy to state what has been my biggest mistake. The greatest mistake I ever made was joining the Ku Klux Klan. And I've said that many times. But one cannot erase what he has done. He can only change his ways and his thoughts. That was an albatross around my neck that I will always wear. You will read it in my obituary that I was a member of the Ku Klux Klan.
And, sadly, Byrd is right. It doesn't matter how many times he renounces his KKK past -- there will always be ignorant, little twerps like Gillespie who keep dragging it out as if it's somehow still relevant.
Of course, it's not surprising that someone like Gillespie would be thoroughly baffled by the concept of someone owning up to a mistake, apologizing for it and taking responsibility for it. If Byrd were a Republican, chances are his entire racist past would be dismissed as just another "youthful indiscretion," of which the Republicans are absolute experts. Apparently, the notion of a "youthful indiscretion" can absolve one of all sorts of morally-questionable behaviour. Like here. And here. Oh, yes, the list of GOP youthful indiscreets does go on, doesn't it?
Once again, being Republican really does mean that you never have to say you're sorry. Just young and stupid. And when it comes to dealing with people like Gillespie, well, there's some pretty wicked irony there, isn't there?