My brother commented he

hopes people don’t forget that [the late Senator] Byrd was a klansman, anti-gay bigot, and wholly owned by big coal. He will not be missed.

My mother replied:

I disagree with you about Sen Byrd.

He was a klansman–not just a regular card-carrying klansman, but founder of a klavern, a big-time klansman, and a hideous racist. He filibustered the civil rights bill. But then he changed.

He seemed to love the war in Vietnam. But then he changed. His was among the first anti-Iraq voices in Congress.

Coal companies bought and paid for him, and got their money’s worth. But then he changed.

You and I had the good fortune to be born into the progressive faith. Many Americans are not born with that blessing. If they’re ever gonna do the right thing politically, they’re gonna have to grow and change and convert and move beyond unpleasantness in their past. Most people never even try. Byrd was a dramatic exception–he of course didn’t become 100% progressive, but he took giant steps in that direction during a time when most white southern politicians were racing the opposite way. He never tried to hide any of it either, and he was gracious in confessing his sins.

He also spoke brilliantly and could play Orange Blossom Special on the fiddle.

I think he was a great one.

hopes people don’t forget that Byrd was a klansman, anti-gay bigot, and wholly owned by big coal. He will not be missed.

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