Saturday, September 04, 2004
The liberal commentariat has had lots of fun lately with Zell Miller, trying to turn the Georgian into the Republicans' new tar baby. Andrew Sullivan, unsurprisingly, has also joined in the game of "kick the bigot":
"Forty years ago, Zell Miller said that Johnson was 'a Southerner who sold his birthright for a mess of dark pottage.' It's a vile, bigoted, evil statement. He has since renounced his remarks. But since Miller also resurrected an ancient and disowned quote from Kerry on the U.N., this record is fair game. The unvarnished truth is that Miller was once a proud bigot toward blacks and, now that that is no longer acceptable, he is a proud bigot toward gays. I'm appalled that the Republican party would use as its keynoter someone who was once a proud segregationist. I'm appalled that decent people like Glenn Reynolds prefer to look the other way."I tend to be more forgiving. Maybe it's because I'm not gay; maybe if Miller had a thing about Poles I would be "appalled" too. But whenever somebody brings up Miller's (or anyone else's) racist past, which as Sullivan notes, Miller has since renounced, all I can think of is the seemingly endless procession of former communists, socialists and fellow travelers who have seen the light, repented and moved on (mostly to the right). If we can forgive people like Irving Kristol or David Horowitz or Boris Yeltsin for once being cheerleaders of tyranny and oppression, surely we can forgive the Zell Millers of this world their past unsavoury attachment to segregation and racial bigotry. But in the moral universe inhabited by today's media, people who in many cases still have not accounted for their own past totalitarian sympathies feel free to pass judgment on those who have. Miller's sin is not bigotry, past or present - after all, there are many Democrat bigots around like Rev Sharpton - it's his pro-Bush stance. Some things are just beyond forgiveness.