President Biden recently announced that he supports calls to end the Senate filibuster.
During his first press conference as Commander-in-Chief, Biden agreed that the filibuster is a relic of the Jim Crow era and supported “having an open mind about dealing with certain things that are just elemental to the functioning of our democracy.”
In a move which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) dubbed a cynical ploy for unchecked power, many Democratic Senators and activists are calling the filibuster ― which allows for Senators in the minority to make their voices heard by extending debate ― a racist institution.
As Senators Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) threaten Democratic hopes to quash the filibuster, activists like Al Sharpton are planning to accuse them of “supporting racism.”
Now, it is true that the filibuster was once used by segregationists like Strom Thurmond, Robert Byrd, and J. William Fulbright to delay votes on racial integration. However, modern-day Democrats apparently forget that their Commander-in-Chief brushed shoulders with many of these Jim Crow Senators during his four decades in the upper chamber of Congress.
Here are five segregationists who Biden once praised and associated with.
Biden once delivered a glowing speech about Sen. Strom Thurmond (D-SC and R-SC), who served in the Senate for nearly five decades and staunchly supported segregation.
Thurmond ― who spoke for a straight 24 hours and 18 minutes against the Civil Rights Act of 1957 ― currently holds the record for the longest filibuster speech by a lone senator.
During the primary race, the Washington Examiner obtained unaired footage of Biden praising Thurmond in 1988 at Clemson University’s Strom Thurmond Institute.
“I came to the United States Senate. I was a 29-year-old fellow out of the Civil Rights movement, a public defender, and it turns out one of my closest friends ends up being Strom Thurmond, a man whose background and interests, at the time I came, were considerably different than mine,” said Biden.
“If you had told me when I entered the United States Senate that one of the people that I’d have the closest relationship within the Senate would be Strom Thurmond, I would have told you that you were crazy. And I suspect maybe Strom would have told you, you were crazy,” continued Biden. “I’m not just saying Strom and I are close. Anyone who knows the Senate knows how seldom we agree on the controversial issues but how closely we work together.”
“I get along with Strom Thurmond because I respect him,” added Biden, “because Strom Thurmond believes deeply in what he does, and he is a consummate legislator.”
During the race for the Democratic nomination, Biden discussed his past working relationships with Jim Crow politicians, including Sen. James Eastland (D-MS). The longtime senator served as chairman of the Judiciary Committee for twenty-two years and often spoke of black people as an “inferior race.”
Eastland once told a crowd in Mississippi that “the Constitution of the United States was destroyed because of the Supreme Court’s decision” in Brown v. Board of Education, meaning that they were “not obliged to obey the decisions of any court which are plainly fraudulent sociological considerations.”
Biden recalled his colleague during a 2019 speech at a New York City hotel.
“I know the new New Left tells me that I’m ― this is old-fashioned,” Biden remarked. “Well guess what? If we can’t reach a consensus in our system, what happens? It encourages and demands the abuse of power by a president. That’s what it does.”
After remembering that Eastland called him “son” rather than “boy,” Biden said that “at least there was some civility” at the time.
“We got things done. We didn’t agree on much of anything. We got things done. We got it finished,” said Biden. “But today, you look at the other side and you’re the enemy. Not the opposition, the enemy. We don’t talk to each other anymore.”
Other Democratic presidential contenders were not impressed.
Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City decried Biden for “longing for the good old days of ‘civility’ typified by James Eastland.” He noted that Eastland would not have approved of de Blasio’s multiracial family.
“He repeatedly demonstrates that he is out of step with the values of the modern Democratic Party,” remarked the Mayor.
Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) issued a similar condemnation.
“You don’t joke about calling black men ‘boys.’ Men like James O. Eastland used words like that, and the racist policies that accompanied them, to perpetuate white supremacy and strip black Americans of our very humanity,” he said in a statement. “Vice President Biden’s relationships with proud segregationists are not the model for how we make America a safer and more inclusive place for black people, and for everyone.”
Biden has also touted his relationship with Sen. Herman Talmadge (D-GA), who served in the Senate from 1957 to 1981.
A New York Times obituary recalled that Sen. Talmadge “built schools as governor of Georgia and then called for stopping desegregation by closing them.” During his 1956 Senate campaign, Talmadge claimed that “God advocates segregation.”
Joining other Democratic candidates, then-Senator Kamala Harris criticized Biden for his comments about Eastland and Talmadge.
During a primary debate, Harris told her current boss that it was “hurtful to hear you talk about the reputations of two United States senators who built their reputations and career on segregation of race in this country.”
She likewise recalled Biden’s opposition to integrated busing in the 1970s: “You also worked with them to oppose busing. And you know, there was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools and she was bused to school every day, and that little girl was me. So, I will tell you that on this subject, it cannot be an intellectual debate among Democrats. We have to take it seriously. We have to act swiftly.”
Biden delivered a eulogy for Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV), who also served for half a century in the Senate.
Like Thurmond, Byrd employed the filibuster to oppose the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in a speech lasting over fourteen hours. Although he later recanted his support of the KKK, Byrd served as a recruiter for the group in his younger years.
Biden, nevertheless, called Byrd a “mentor,” “friend,” and “guide” at his 2010 funeral.
“In case you forgot, Joe Biden gave the eulogy at Robert Byrd’s funeral,” noted commentator Ryan Fournier during the 2020 presidential campaign. “He was a klansman recruiter who filibustered the 1964 Civil Rights act for 14 hours. Biden call [sic] him a ‘mentor’ and a ‘friend.’ Joe is the racist.”
In a third speech, Biden praised Sen. John Stennis (D-MS) ― another firm segregationist.
Stennis served for four decades in the Senate and signed the Southern Manifesto, which advocated for widespread resistance against Brown v. Board of Education.
Biden compared Stennis to a Confederate general at the Mississippi politician’s 1985 birthday party.
“It was said of Stonewall Jackson, ‘He is an avalanche from an unexpected quarter, a thunderbolt from a clear sky, and yet his character and will make him a stone wall and more of a stone wall than any man I’ve ever known,’” remarked Biden.
“And, Mr. Chairman, when you stand on the floor of the Senate and you point that finger and you raise your voice, it’s like a bolt from a clear sky, and when you speak, everyone listens,” he continued. “And as all of my colleagues have said here today, and you’ll hear others say more of, he truly does stand like a stone wall, he is the rockbound integrity of the United States Congress.”
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.
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