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What shall I say about Trent Lott?

I watched the video of his press conference (available at CSPAN), and I have mixed feelings about it. I guess I was hoping for a more visible display of contrition. It seemed to me that his prepared “mea culpa” was delivered in a dry and perfunctory manner. The word on the street, however, is that Sen. Lott is not known for overt emotional displays (say what you like about Bill Clinton, but that quivering bottom lip sure was effective).

Of course, Sen. Lott is out there publicly saying he’s sorry. He’s denounced racism and segregation as immoral, and expressed his regret (however distant that expression may seem) for uttering careless words that offended and hurt many people. I like to give people the benefit of the doubt, so I imagine I’ll take him at his word.

Others are not being so forthcoming with the “forgiveness and forbearance” Sen. Lott asked for today. A lot of people just aren’t buying the “mea culpa” address. According to FOXNews.com, a large contingent of black lawmakers are refusing to accept his apologies. Although Sen. Lott has taken great pains in pointing out that he does not endorse the segregationist policies of the past, Rep. John Lewis, D-GA, continues to deride Lott for “condoning a period of history burdened by overt racism, violence, fear and oppression.” Furthermore, the Congressional Black Caucus has rejected Lott’s apology, continues to push for a censure against Lott, and demands that President Bush call for his resignation.

What does The MonT-SteR have to say about all this? If that question has just been burning a hole in your skull since this whole flap began, you came to the right place, my friend. Step right on up and find out how I spell relief!

Here’s my two-part answer:

  1. Whether Sen. Lott meant to or not, he touched a very raw nerve in this country. It’s undeniable that this nation is still suffering from the unhealed wounds of its sinful past. While I am not sympathetic to the view that America is a racist nation, racism undeniably exists in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave. And it really wasn’t all that long ago that we did practice segregationist policies that coddled and endorsed the ungodly prejudices of previous generations. Sen. Lott said today that segregation was a stain upon our national soul. I agree, but I would intensify his words a bit. This feeding frenzy, ignited by Sen. Lott’s words, has revealed a festering, stinking wound that is crying out for healing. There are people today who still hurt, who are still angered by the racial discord that has sullied the storied existence of the United States. Government programs will not fix this. Affirmative action will not fix this. Crucifying Sen. Lott will not fix this. There is only one Person who can bridge the racial divides that exist in this country, and He is Jesus Christ — the Sun of Righteousness who comes with healing in his wings. And His people, the Church, have a responsibility. We are His ambassadors in this world, and we have been charged with a ministry of reconciliation (II Corinthians 5:18). That means the Church — all those who confess Christ in this nation — must be a community that transcends American racial and economic barriers. We must be a people that reaches out to all for whom Christ died, regardless of skin color, with His love and gracious acceptance. Jesus is the key to healing America’s racial wounds.
  2. Now, having said that, I have a bone to pick with Sen. Lott’s detractors. I agree that his statement at Strom Thurmond’s 100th birthday party was unconscionable. But what I want to know is where all this moral outrage was when Bill Clinton was caught lying under oath and abusing his office in the most tawdry fashion imaginable. Clinton delivered his mea culpa address, and as far as you were concerned all was forgiven. Why can’t you extend the same level of mercy to Sen. Lott? A bit selective about our expressions of moral outrage, aren’t we? It makes me wonder how much of this upset is genuine, and how much if it is Oscar-worthy acting borne out of political calculation. If it’s the latter (and in many cases I’m sure it is), then your hypocrisy is stunning, to say the least.

YAWN! Well, there you have it. My thoughts on the whole Trent Lott flap. Forgive the incoherence — it’s past The MonT-SteR’s bedtime.

Blessings,

Rob

aka The MonT-SteR