Robert Byrd and the KKK

I was watching Dennis Miller on HBO2 last night and he went into a “rant” about Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) and his speech about the morality of the war. Miller is in favor of the the pre-emptive war in Iraq and took some exception to Sen. Byrd’s lectures about morality. Specifically, Miller says that, as a young man, Robert Byrd was a member of the Ku Klux Klan. What?!

I checked Sen. Byrd’s biography and that part of his life was not mentioned. Was Byrd really in the KKK? Snopes doesn’t seem to have anything on it. Have any of you heard of this?

And on a related note, supposing Sen. Byrd, or anyone else, had been in the KKK, does that negate anything they do later in life? Are Sen. Byrd’s comments about the Iraq war of 2003 out of line if he was a member of a hate group 50+ years ago?

He was in the Klan in the 40s, but claims he was never a racist even while he was a member. Hmmm.

So was the revered Hugo Black, a liberal Supreme Court icon.

This is possibly true. The Klan at that time was a pyramid scheme, like Amway. You made money by selling memberships (and costumes) to other members.

Harry Truman, justly remembered as the man who (racially) integrated the Armed Forces, was nominally a member early in his political career. If he hadn’t been, he would have been unable to get elected as a judge in his Missouri district.

Well, his role in the Klan was being a Kleagle- the Klan term for a recruiter. Maybe he was just in it for money?

Anyone know where this is documented, besides in Miller’s diatribe? Is there legitimate press coverage of this? Is it an issue with West Virginia voters? I can see where a politician might need to be a member of KKK in certain areas/times in order to be elected. Is it believable that a person could be a member of KKK and not subscribe to their racist tendencies? Is it possible to hold an extreme position (such as the KKK does) and then realise the error of your ways and redeem yourself?

I am concerned because I truly like what Sen. Byrd had to say about the war in Iraq. I am concerned, however, that he has remained silent (as he accuses other Senators of doing) when other important issues are raised or wrongs are being committed.

Senator Byrd said it himself one on of the Sunday Morning talk shows shortly after the “Trent Lott” situation.

Byrd made mention of it years before the Senator Lott said what he said. It’s been mentioned elsewhere for years, I don’t have any cites on hand…but I heard that on talk radio years ago.

“There are white niggers. I’ve seen a lot of white niggers in my time, if you want to use that word. But we all – we all – we just need to work together to make our country a better country and I – I’d just as soon quit talking about it so much. -Robert Byrd on Fox News Sunday, March 2001”

It’s an absolte fact and he’s admitted it. Google “Byrd kkk” for all sorts of citations. He denounced his former affliation many years ago though many doubt his sincerity.


Of course it’s not mentioned in his biography. Think he’d brag about it?

The double-standard is interesting. David Duke and Robert Byrd were both KKK members. Which one, however, is usually described as a ‘racist?’

:confused: Both, in my neck of the woods.

I’d say there’s a big difference between espousing racist views in the 1940s and espousing them in the late 70s/early 80s. In my opinion, any white American who wasn’t a racist to some extent in the first half of this century is a hero and a philosopher.

But that’s a Great Debate, so I’ll shut up now.

The one who was a member more recently? The one who joined after all the high points of civil rights history occurred? The one who’s easier to judge for me because he’s about my age?