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He Wasn’t Young in 1964

Editor, News-Register:

A letter last week referred to the author’s disagreement with Bethany College’s removal of Robert C. Byrd’s name from the Student Health Center because he had learned and repented for his racist sins of the past. But let’s not forget that while senator, Robert C Byrd was no doubt a cash-cow for the state of West Virginia during his time in the Senate, and he deserves a lot of credit for that, but that can also be equated with the buying of votes.

He brought home the bacon and West Virginians kept rewarding him with re-elections that finally gave him enough seniority in the Senate to make him Democratic leader. I guess “yay” for him; he seems to have gotten his name on more buildings than I can count. (That would be 63 buildings and roads, if I could count).

But let’s just remember that when he was young, in his 20s, he initiated and started a local chapter of the KKK. In 1944, at age 27, Byrd wrote to a Mississippi senator, according to wikipidia, “I shall never fight in the armed forces with a negro by my side … Rather I should die a thousand times.” Then in 1946, Byrd wrote a letter to a Grand Wizard stating, “The Klan is needed today as never before, and I am anxious to see its rebirth here in West Virginia and in every state in the nation.”

Now, let’s look at the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that Democrats always like to brag about passing for the betterment of racial relations. There were 33 Republican senators and 27 of them voted for the passage of the bill. There were 67 democrats and 46 of them voted for the passage, so 68% of Democrats voted for the historic civil rights act of 1964 and 82% of Republicans voted for the passage of the same bill. So, if only 50% was needed, then it would never had passed had it not been for the strong Republican support, which brings me back to Senator Byrd: In his 20s he hated minorities, and as you say, he later repented, but at the age of 47 he still voted against the historic civil rights bill.

Today the crazies of the world topple and deface monuments of Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Christopher Columbus, Union generals who fought to abolish slavery and even Ulysses S. Grant, who led the military force to defeat the South to abolish slavery. Also targeted are monuments honoring first responders and police departments. I wonder why it’s Robert C. Byrd that you decide to defend?

Again, at 47 years old, not in his 20s any longer, Robert C. Byrd voted against the historic Civil Rights Act of 1964. So what if he regretted it in his 80s? Maybe all the others being condemned now would, 200 years later, regret their actions?

Tom Standiford

New Martinsville

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