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Strom's 'Love Chile' & American Politics

Long version: mp3, 3.60 MBs, 4:25
Short version: mp3, 2.96 MBs, 3:37

[Col. Recorded 12/17/03]

The news that America's premier arch-segregationist, Strom Thurmond, the late Senator from South Carolina, was the father of an African-American daughter, is as American as cherry pie.

Thurmond sat in the Senate longer than any other Senator in the history of the Republic, and for most of that time, while it became politically unfashionable to uphold segregation, remained a stalwart white nationalist. It is a telling fact of American political life that Thurmond had to keep the existence of his Black daughter secret for fear he would lose significant political support in his home state.

His daughter, the now 78-year old Essie Mae Washington Williams, with her cafe-au-lait complexion, is yet the spitting image of her old man. And in press reports, she has expressed love for him, a two-sided relationship of respect, and a seemingly heartfelt, life-long concern for his welfare. She is today's reflection of the dark underside of American history: white fathers, and black babies, with few publicly acknowledging their own offspring.

While some have suggested that this was proof of the 'humanity' of the man, the writer begs to differ. Thomas Jefferson fathered several Black children, and kept most of them in bondage to the end of his days. Even as he was producing children of a Black woman, he wrote in his infamous *Notes on the State of Virginia* of Blacks being akin to "gorillas", and beings who were physically, intellectually, and artistically inferior.

George Washington worked, and whipped his slaves, and according to Black oral history, fathered a son with one of his female slaves, named Venus.

Patrick Henry, of 'Give me liberty, or give me death!' fame, held scores of Africans in bondage! This lover of liberty would write, "Would anyone believe I am the master of slaves of my own purchase?" Most Americans don't know, and because of warped history taught in primary schools, won't learn this.

The former French premier, Georges Clemenceau (1841-1929), when a journalist covering the end of American Reconstruction (after US Civil War) wrote, of Southern politics: "Any Democrat who did not manage to hint that the negro is a degenerate gorilla would be considered lacking in enthusiasm." [Fr. Eric Foner, *Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution: 1863-1877* (New York: Harper & Row, 1988), 32 (quoting Clemenceau's book: *American Reconstruction* (1928).]

The Thurmond case reveals, at base, the political hypocrisy that fuels much of American politics still. If arch-conservatives can have secret Black babies, then, one wonders, how many of our supposedly 'tough-on-crime' politicians really don't believe the harsh rhetoric that they spout? How many know that the so-called 'war on drugs' is a cruel crock of horse-manure? Or that the equally fallacious 'war on terrorism' is but a political stage play?

Politicians have perfected the art of telling their foolish constituencies what they want to hear, instead of what they really believe. How many are projecting useful masks for their own political, professional benefit? What next? David Duke's Vietnamese 'love child'? Ronnie Reagan's Mexican 'muchacha de amor'?

What we have learned is that what politicians project to their publics is one thing; what they believe is another! Politics is not a science; it is an art; and all art is part artifice.

And thus we have a politics that fails to inspire us; which plays to our deepest fears, and plucks our darkest urges. It is a false politics, which doesn't even begin to resemble the lives we lead, our hopes or our dreams. What if 'old Strom' had publicly
professed his love for his Black daughter during his 100 years of life? What if he did so, at the height of the vicious struggles being waged across the US south during the '50s and '60s? What if he did it while he was a young man?

Almost certainly, if he had done so, we would never have heard the name, Strom Thurmond, for his political career would have been strangled at birth.

Yet wouldn't we live today in a different America?

Copyright 2003 Mumia Abu-Jamal


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Text © copyright 2003 by Mumia Abu-Jamal.
All rights reserved.
Reprinted by permission of the author.