Racist Lott needs to go, too

There are angry demands that Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) resign because of his comments at a going away party for Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.) last week. He stated that the country would have been better off if Thurmond had won the Presidential election in 1948. Thurmond ran as a violent pro-segregationist on the Dixiecrat ticket.

Lott has apologized but that isn’t enough. After all, in 1980, Lott made the same racist endorsement of Thurmond while campaigning for his own re-election in Mississippi.

We join the people’s organizations which say “good riddance” to Thurmond. (See pages 4, 13) Furthermore, Lott should go, too, and not let the door hit him on his way out. Imagine! A Senate leader in 2002 uttering such an outrageously racist statement as to wish for a segregated country. Lott is a member of the Conservative Citizen’s Council, formerly known as the White Citizen’s Council. If the Senate Republicans reelect him as Majority Leader, they become accomplices in Lott’s foul racism.

There is not one issue facing the people in which racism is not a factor. As Gus Hall, late Communist Party national chairman, said, “Racism is the nation’s most dangerous pollutant.” The five young African- American and Latino men wrongfully convicted in the Central Park rape case who spent 13 years in prison were victims of racism. The New York media, police and prosecutors whipped up racist hysteria, referring to them as “animals.” Racism poisons white people with the idea that people of color are not human.

Racism has often been referred to as prejudice plus power. Lott and his ultra right and corporate backers certainly have both prejudice and power. Racism means the absence of democracy. Democracy and racism cannot co-exist.

George W. Bush was present when Lott made his infamous remarks, joining in the revelry. He needs to sober up and join in the calls for Lott’s resignation.

Lessons from Oslo

With the Nobel podium in Oslo, Norway, as his bully pulpit, former President, and now Nobel Peace Prize winner, Jimmy Carter, sharply rebuked the White House drive toward war on Iraq. He did not mention George W. Bush by name, but his words were understood by everyone: “For powerful countries to adopt a principle of preventive war may well set an example that can have catastrophic consequences,” Carter said. He also warned Iraqi President Saddam Hussein that he must comply with United Nations resolutions ordering Iraq to eliminate all weapons of mass destruction and cooperate with UN inspections.

But the thrust of his acceptance speech was aimed at the main danger to world peace, the Bush administration’s doctrine of unilateral, preemptive war.

The global challenges facing humanity, Carter said, “must be met by an emphasis on peace, in harmony with others. … Imperfect as it may be, there is no doubt that this can best be done through the United Nations.”

Carter also challenged “the growing chasm between the richest and poorest people on earth” and urged rich nations to “share with others an appreciable part of our excessive wealth.” He condemned embargoes imposed in the name of ousting tyrants which in fact “inflict punishment” on millions of innocent people. These, too, put Carter at odds with the arrogant, ultra-right policies of George W. Bush.

When the prize was first announced, Nobel Committee chair, Gunnar Berge, told reporters Carter had been chosen explicitly in criticism of Bush for his warmonger role. Now Carter himself has echoed that sharp criticism. It dovetailed with Carter’s trip to Cuba where he met with President Fidel Castro and denounced the U.S. blockade.

Carter is speaking for a strong majority of world public opinion and a growing body of opinion in the U.S. against war on Iraq and the dangerous Bush strategy of “preemptive war.” Our challenge is to broaden and deepen that call for peace to encompass the overwhelming majority in our country.