Y’all know who Kathleen Parker is? She’s a writer over at Town Hall dot com, apologist for the racially brutal and truly one of the most clueless commenters on race relations in this country EVER.
Excerpted here is her column on Essie Mae Washington-Williams, mixed race daughter of Strom “Hang ’em All” Thurmond. It hurts every bone in my body to see folks let him off for this. I can’t help it. Ladies and gentlemen, my first Fisking starts here:
Strom’s daughter is class act
Unlike all those other children of women that were raped by white men and got angry about it. Take it and smile, and we’ll call you a “class act”!
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Ask most thoughtful South Carolinians what they think about Essie Mae Washington-Williams – Strom Thurmond’s biracial daughter who publicly identified herself Wednesday – and you’ll most likely hear: “It’s complicated.”
That’s assuming you ask WHITE FOLKS. Maybe that’s what Ms. Parker meant by “thoughtful.” Ask Black Folks about it and they’ll generally say “Well, I’ll be… a white hypocrite that used racial hatred to advance his political career? Who would have thought of that? How very ‘complicated!'”
Commentary doesn’t get any more Southern than that. In the land of manners, you don’t look directly at a thing. You avert your eyes from “unpleasantness.” And you don’t talk directly about people, which would cast doubt upon the quality of one’s upbringing.
And you sho’ don’t look massa in the eye, laws no! He smack ya fo’ it!
So that when a 22-year-old white man named Thurmond takes a 16-year-old black girl named Carrie Butler to his bed, well, things happen. Or they used to.
Yeah, we used to call that ‘Plantation Rape.’
What today would be statutory rape was perfectly legal in 1925 when the black family maid gave birth to Thurmond’s daughter. The cutoff for consent in those days was age 14.
Well, perfectly legal except that it was race-mixin’, and would have meant hanging for one or both of them if (a) he had been black and she had been white, or (b) he had been working class and not the descendant of rich, white plantaton owners.
And when a black girl gives birth to a baby whose daddy happens to be the son of her wealthy white employer, well, those things happen, too. And life goes on.
In another state, under another name, and never tell anyone about this, ‘k? Great, thanks.
Life went on a very long time for Strom Thurmond, who died this year at 100. It didn’t last so long for Carrie Butler, who died at age 38.
Stress, maybe? Ya think?
Today, the baby girl that resulted from young Thurmond’s wild oats is 78 and last week showed the nation what class – not race – is all about.
Oh, race plays no part in this…
“I am not bitter. I am not angry … at last, I feel completely free,” Washington-Williams told a crowd of some 400 who gathered Wednesday to hear her speak.
Now I can say who I am without fear…
“My name is Essie Mae Washington-Williams,” she said. “My father’s name was James Strom Thurmond.”
Was the audience stunned? Riveted, maybe, but not surprised.
Was I surprised? Hah!
“Everybody had heard about it,” said a 1969 graduate of Strom Thurmond High School in Edgefield, S.C., Thurmond’s hometown. “I wasn’t a bit surprised.”
Indeed, not only had rumors circulated for decades, but also news stories and books had repeated the tale through the years. And the truth is, Thurmond did little to hide his association with his daughter.
Especially when he was running on that Pro-Lynching Ticket back in the ’40s. No, he was telling everybody about his Nigrah daugher when they were wrapping that cross in gasoline soaked towels. He used to show her picture around when they were waiting for some darkie to come home from the mill so they could go give his neck a little stretchin’.
She visited him at the governor’s mansion when he was governor, albeit through the back door,
OK, she DID NOT just say that!!!??!!
and in his Washington, D.C., offices. Thurmond visited Washington-Williams when she was a student at South Carolina State College, arriving indiscreetly in a black limo. Hardly the behavior of a man trying to hide something.
“Just here visiting my daughta’, here at the Nigrah college, y’all. Nice little seperate (BUT EQUAL! HA, HA… Just a little joke, y’all…) college you folks have heah. Real nice.”
Officially, they were just friends. Unofficially, as everybody and the horse they rode in on knew, he was her daddy and she was his little girl – the only child he had until he was 68 years old. What seems clear is that Thurmond cared about his daughter, even if he didn’t publicly acknowledge her.
“I love ya, dahlin’, you just don’t exist. You undahstand, doncha?”
That omission today seems unfathomably cruel and – that gravest of sins – hypocritical.
My goodness, we’re defensive about that, aren’t we? What’s with “conservatives” freaking out about being called hypocritical? Little touchy about that?
While Thurmond was running for president of the United States as a Dixiecrat segregationist, his own flesh and blood wasn’t allowed to vote and he was fighting to keep things that way.
Yet he kept Washington-Williams in his life.
Well, isn’t that sweet? What a stand up guy! He’s not a completely dishonest shithead after all! Yay, Strom! This isn’t piss I’m sprinkling on your grave, it’s champagne! I just drank it first.
Say what you will about what might have been, what Thurmond should have done, how the South might have been different had Thurmond been straight-up about his interracial relationships, he was no deadbeat. He supported his daughter, sent her to college and was financially reliable throughout her life, Washington-Williams said.
Cynics and critics may prefer to say he paid off his child to keep her quiet, but Washington-Williams’ grace and history belie the charge.
If profit were her interest, she could have gotten millions for this story while Thurmond was living. Moreover, she isn’t seeking money now, though a book and movie seem probable.
Or had her house burned down while she was sleeping for asking…. Hmmm… which seems more likely?
By her own explanation, Washington-Williams and Thurmond respected each other. “I never wanted to do anything to harm him or cause detriment to his life or the lives of those around him,” she said during her news conference.
Well, she’s clearly a better person than him, then, because he set about trying to make sure that she and hers were permanently second-class citizens…
He was, after all, her father.
Thanks for the update.
There are as many jokes about Strom Thurmond’s legendary libido,
Is there any way to unthink that thought I just had?
his womanizing and his stubborn longevity,
Nobody tried a stake in the heart, did they?
as there are stories about his generous constituent care, evenly distributed among blacks and whites, and his metamorphosis from staunch segregationist to inclusive benefactor.
When did he start using Kool-Aid in his hair? That’s the story that I want to hear….
All contribute to the justifiable wonder with which others view Thurmond’s home state and lend credibility to the possibility that South Carolinians are indeed insane.
You said it, not me
If Strom Thurmond rose from the dead today – and some reckon he might
See “wooden stake”
– voters probably would re-elect him to the Senate, sponsor a reunion for his biracial family, and politely avert their eyes from the unpleasantness of his hypocrisy.
Yeah, US culture is so disnterested in the prurient and scandalous, these days.
Things happen in life and, goodness knows, life is complicated.
It’s a lot more complicated than it would have been if Strom had been black and Carrie Butler had been white, that’s for sure.