Trent Lott has long been suspected by many of his political opponents of being a closet racist
. His past association with the Council of Conservative Citizens
has been used to bolster this claim, and, at a celebration in honor of the centenarian Senator
from South Carolina
, Strom Thurmond
, Lott added a bit of fuel to the fire.
During his tribute, Lott noted that Mississippi, his home state and mine, was one of four states Thurmond carried during his Dixiecrat presidential campaign. He mentioned how proud he was of that, and said the country wouldn't have all these problems right now if the rest of the country had followed its lead. In 1948, Strom Thurmond ran a candidacy whose sole issue, really, was segregation. He said he would protect "the homes, schools and churches" of whites from the negro. He maintained that the white race was naturally superior and should maintain that natural superiority in law.
Lott was immediately attacked for his comments, by blacks and whites, liberals and conservatives alike. He has since said that it was a poor choice of words and he only meant to give tribute to a dear friend, rather than express his desire to rescind the entire Civil Rights Movement.
kto9 added that Lott filed a friend of the court brief backing Bob Jones University when that institution was attempting to keep federal funding despite the segregationist policies of the administration. He also added that Lott used similar language regarding Strom Thurmond in 1980.