WAPO’s Robinson softens editorial piece about Byrd

Ashley Stinnett Contributor
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In case you haven’t read it, Washington Post associate editor and columnist Eugene Robinson wrote a column on United States Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) who recently passed away at the age of 92.

Most Americans remember Byrd as the nation’s longest serving member of Congress while others will reminisce on his astute stance towards the Constitution even though many question the late-senator’s no vote during the impeachment trials of former president Bill Clinton.

So, what is the big deal about Robinson’s piece?

On Tuesday June 29, during an online question and answer session held by the author, Robinson admits that he could have lightened up on all of the positive spin, but instead excuses Byrd’s past racist actions due to West Virginia’s adoption of Jim Crow laws around the turn of the 20th century.

Like every other liberal, Robinson has decided to overlook Byrd’s negative past in large part of the late-senator’s strict opposition of the Iraq War, coupled with his equally hard-line support of big government domestic policies.

However, not too long ago, back in September of 2007; Robinson blew an o-ring over what he called “casually racist” comments from Fox News personality Bill O’Reilly. This came on the heels of O’Reilly’s visit to a downtown Harlem restaurant in which afterwards during a broadcast he stated, “I couldn’t get over the fact that there was no difference between Sylvia’s restaurant and any other restaurant in New York City. I mean, it was exactly the same, even though it’s run by blacks, primarily black patronship.”

Flash forward to an April 27 column of this year entitled, “Arizona’s new immigration law is an act of vengeance.” In that article, Robinson refers to that state’s new legislation as an abomination — racist, arbitrary, oppressive, mean-spirited, unjust.

And yet another knee-jerk reaction came back in March when Robinson assailed that tea party bigotry could not stand in the way of the ever popular and history-making health care reform bill.

So, as you can see Mr. Robinson has a big problem with conservatives who appear, in his eyes, to harbor racism, even if the evidence proves otherwise.

Let’s backup to Tuesday’s forum.

Responding to a question from a reader, Robinson wrote:

(Point well taken) and I admit that when I looked at this column this morning, it seemed a tad softer in tone than I might have wanted. West Virginia is weird, in that it isn’t part of the deep South and wasn’t in the Confederacy, but did adopt Jim Crow laws after the Supreme Court’s Plessy v. Ferguson decision made that possible. So maybe Byrd went out of his way, but it isn’t as if his state was particularly enlightened about race.

He then goes on to profess how Byrd changed as America changed, as if the recent endorsement of Barack Obama is all that was needed to wipe out the late-Senators astonishing record of hostility towards civil rights.

So Robert Byrd’s membership in the Ku Klux Klan and opposition to the landmark 1964 Civil Rights measure can be written off as a simple mistake but when average Americans exercise resistance towards big government initiatives that just so happen to be handed down by a black president is border line treasonous?

After all, Byrd cleansed himself of past transgressions by simply voting to make Martin Luther King a national holiday, as Robinson reminds us.

In other words, if you are a liberal with a past entrenched in controversy all is forgiven in the eyes of Robinson. But conservatives, on the other hand, shall be issued no such lucky breaks.

I guess Mr. Robinson feels as though Democrats are to be held under different standards than everyone else.

Ashley Stinnett lives in West Virginia, where he serves as an adjunct college instructor, writer, media and public relations consultant, public speaker, volunteer for various conservative organizations, and a civilian recruiter for the NRA. He is registered with the Associated Press, and is a nationally syndicated columnist with The North Star National. He is the author of the new book, “Grasping Appalachian Conservatism: How Not To Be Mistaken For A Latte Liberal.”