In a move that’s re-opening old wounds and exposing current hypocrisy, certain politicians are calling for the removal of not only the Confederate battle flag but also of statues depicting the president of the Confederate States from all government spaces. But there have been no similar calls to remove both the portrait and the dedication of numerous government facilities to the late US Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV), an avowed racist and former Exalted Cyclops of the Ku Klux Klan chapter he founded.
Following the mass murder of nine innocent lives at Emanuel AME (African Methodist Episcopal) Church in Charleston, SC by a twisted ne’er-do-well made infamous by posing for the camera while burning the American flag and also seen waving the Stars and Bars, a number of politicians are calling for the removal of a smattering of statues of Jefferson Davis, the former President of the CSA, US Secretary of War, and US Senator. As reported by The Daily Caller news portal on June 23, 2015, despite Jeff Davis being dead for over the past 125 years, two of the biggest dogs in the US Senate are casting a jaundiced eye at statuary depicting the long-dead Southern Chief Executive.
The GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell referenced the statue of Davis that currently resides in the Capitol building in his home state of Kentucky that also “stands alongside former President Abraham Lincoln—his Civil War adversary—and other Kentucky-born leaders.” McConnell went on to state that a “more appropriate” location for the Davis statue would be a state museum.
On the other side of the aisle was Minority Leader Harry Reid slammed the state of Mississippi for choosing to have one of their two statue spaces at the Senate be that of Davis. As cited, Reid said, “The problem we have with most of the statues in the capitol complex is that there’s a law that says as I understand it — it says each state is entitled to two statues and two statues only and so that’s really up to the states. Now I think it would be really important to look at some of the statues that are here not as a result of what the states have done, but what others do and we’re going to take a look at that.”
However, nary a word has been brought up regarding overtly racist history of Democratic Party heavy hitter, the later Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia. As Washington Post reporter Eric Pianin noted in his 2005 article, Byrd was not only a Klan recruiter (know as a “Kleagle”) early in his political career, he also was unanimously elected as the “Exalted Cyclops” of the newly minted KKK chapter he founded in his then-hometown of Crab Orchard, West Virginia.
Withheld from the American people for 42 years, in a letter to US Representative Theodore Bilbo (D-Miss.) on Dec.11, 1946, Byrd penned his opinions of the Federal move to racially desegregate the US Armed Forces, “I would never would fight with a Negro by my side. Rather I should die a thousand times, and see Old Glory trampled in the dirt never to rise again, than to see this beloved land of ours become degraded by race mongrels, a throwback to the blackest specimen from the wilds.” Senator Byrd managed to evade a hitch in the military, thusly never serving during World War II, the Korean War or the Vietnam War.
Nonetheless, Reid was the featured speaker at the 2007 unveiling of Byrd’s official portrait that still hangs in the Old Senate Chamber (video here). Also, the Byrd tribute website The Soul of the Senate lists but a few buildings, highways, schools, etc, dedicated to the Klansman:
- Robert C. Byrd Academic and Technology Center
- Robert C. Byrd addition to the lodge at Oglebay Park, Wheeling
- Byrd Aerospace Technology Center
- Robert C. Byrd Bridge between Huntington and Chesapeake, Ohio
- Robert C. Byrd Cancer Research Center
- Robert C. Byrd Clinical Addition to the Veteran’s Hospital in Huntington
- Robert C. Byrd Community Center, Pine Grove
- Robert C. Byrd Community Center in the Naval Station, Sugar Grove
- Robert C. Byrd Drive, from Beckley to Sophia (Byrd’s hometown)
- Robert C. Byrd Expressway, U.S. 22 near Weirton
- Robert C. Byrd Federal Building
- Robert C. Byrd Federal Courthouse
- Robert C. Byrd Freeway
- Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope
- Robert C. Byrd Hardwood Technologies Center, near Princeton
- Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center of West Virginia
- Robert C. Byrd High school in Bridgeport
- Robert C. Byrd Highway
- Robert C. Byrd Hilltop Office Complex, Mineral County
- Robert C. Byrd Honors Scholarships
- Robert C. Byrd Industrial Park, Hardy County
- Robert C. Byrd Institute in Charleston
- Robert C. Byrd Institute for Advanced Flexible Manufacturing
- Robert C. Byrd Library and Robert C. Byrd Learning Resource Center
- Robert C. Byrd Life Long Learning Center
- Robert C. Byrd Locks and Dam
- Robert C. Byrd National Technology Transfer Center
- Robert C. Byrd Rural Health Center
- Robert C. Byrd Scholastic Recognition Award
- Byrd Science Center, Shepherd University
- Robert C. Byrd Technology Center at Alderson-Broaddus College
- Robert C. Byrd United Technical Center
- Robert C. Byrd Visitor Center at Harpers Ferry National Historic Park