Senator Shelby Defends the Jim Crow South and Slams the Founders by Taxpayer Tom Scovill

Senator Dick Shelby (R, AL) is an apologist for the Jim Crow South as can be seen in The Hill’s reports about Shelby’s comments on the proposed name change for the Russell Senate Office Building.

Shelby said, “Senator [Richard] Russell was a well-respected man from the South and up here too … a man of his time … he was a well-respected senator.”

The Hill writes, “Shelby noted that if reporters were going to judge Russell on his civil rights stance then they would also need to reevaluate the Founding Fathers.”

Shelby also said, “If you want to get into that you have to get into George Washington and Thomas Jefferson and all of our — most of our Founding Fathers, maybe with the exception of Hamilton … it’s easy to prejudge what they should have done.”

(Question, how does one prejudge folks who died 200 years ago?)

Among the problems with Senator Russell is his defense of the Jim Crow South and segregation 100 years after the Civil War; after the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments; and after 100 years of Republican efforts to enact civil rights legislation intended to provide full political and economic rights to slaves and their descendants, GOP efforts which were blocked by people like Russell. His support of segregation and Jim Crow law put and kept him in political office over a 50 year career which ended in 1971.

Russell opposed The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and The Voting Rights Act of 1965, laws which transformed America for the better. These laws would not have been necessary if Republican proposals over the previous 100 years had been enacted and embraced by Russell and his supporters.

Shelby also takes a cheap shot at our founding fathers. Many of us have evaluated them and that includes consideration of the moral repugnancy of slavery. Happily for us, the founders created a political structure that would end slavery and lead to equal rights to include the right to equal protection under the law. The shame of Richard Russell is that he fought long and hard to suppress those rights and to deny equal protection.

The founders were indeed men of their times, but they changed the status quo for the good, even though much of that good took years to manifest itself. Russell fought for years to maintain an amoral status quo to benefit himself and his supporters.

I am not a fan of John McCain’s congressional record, but his demise provides an opportunity to rename the Russell Senate Office Building. I was not keen on it until I read what Senator Shelby had to say, but now I urge the Senate to change the name.


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