Monday, October 10, 2005

Joe Lieberman, Man of Integrity

The Moose defends the honor of a great Senator.

The Moose notes that at least two bloggers launched a McCarthyite assault on Senator Joe Lieberman - here and here. The attack stems from Joe's attendance at the 50th Anniversary Celebration for the National Review. As way of explanation, Senator Lieberman has a tie with William F. Buckley because he supported him in his first race against incumbent Senator Weicker. It is perfectly understandable, that despite his differences with the magazine and Mr. Buckley, he would attend this function.

However, the bloggers employ the most obscene guilt-by-association tactics by attempting to slander Senator Lieberman because the National Review was once opposed to federal desegregation efforts. What these bloggers do not realize, or else ignored, is that Joe Lieberman bravely stood up for civil rights long before they were born. In 1963, a young Joe Lieberman went to Mississippi to assist in the effort to register African-American voters. The following summer James Chaney, Mickey Schwerner and Andy Goodman were murdered in that state.

Here is an extended excerpt from the Yale Daily News about Joe Lieberman's civil rights activism,

"But his most famous editorials included a piece titled "An Explanation: Why I Go to Mississippi," written immediately preceding a much-publicized trip Lieberman took to Jackson, Miss., in late October 1963, and another which ran roughly a month later on the impact of President John F. Kennedy's death.

"In the fall of his senior year, Lieberman was part of a sizeable contingent of Yalies who trekked down to Jackson, Miss., to lend a hand to organizations like Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, who hoped to advance the civil rights movement underway in the South.

"In the editorial outlining his reasons for travelling to the Deep South, Lieberman called what he and others would be doing "American," stating, "I am going to Mississippi because I feel that my presence, as a white man, can indicate to Negro Mississippians that there are white men -- whose insides burn with anxiety and guilt when they consider the way in which other white men have sought to rob the black man of his humanity."

"Upon arriving at the project headquarters in Jackson, the students assisted in staging a mock vote in which blacks cast ballots for Aaron Henry, who was barred from the official election for governor because he was black. The goal was to amass more votes for the unofficial candidate than the official victor, Paul B. Johnson Jr. Prompted by civil rights activists Allard Lowenstein, the well-known Congressman and one-time dean of Stanford University, and Yale University Chaplain William Sloane Coffin, the students' voyage to the South represented Northern sympathies for the struggle and has been tied to Lieberman's name ever since.

"Saxonhouse, an economics professor at the University of Michigan, was one of the students who drove the roughly 25 hours to Mississippi and said the scope of the project would not have been possible without Lieberman.

"There's no question that Joe's participation made an enormous difference," Saxonhouse said. "It would have been a very marginal event for Yale if Joe had not gotten involved and made the very strong commitment that he did. Coffin told him there was no way he could lead unless he himself went down there."

"In his interview with New York Times reporter Jodi Wilgoren '92, Lieberman -- who could not be reached for comment -- spoke about his experience in Mississippi.

"It was the first time in my life that I felt racial division so seriously," he said. "And was in this unusual and sort of perspective-changing position of feeling that my own race was a threat to me and those who were black were not, were protective."

"Howard Gillette Jr. '64, who was managing editor at the News under Lieberman, said the two-week voter rights campaign was progressive, but not radical. Lieberman's careful negotiation between respect for the status quo and a yearning for improvement through progressive action followed the future senator through his early political career in New Haven and Connecticut, Gillette said.

"Joe challenged [the establishment] in some ways and embraced it in others," said Gillette, now a history professor at Rutgers University in Camden, N.J. "He had to navigate those shoals and he did it quite well."

These bloggers - here and here owe Senator Lieberman an apology! It is one thing to disagree with his politics, but do not slander his character!
-- Posted at 9:13 AM | Link to this post | Email this post