Biden praises Fritz Hollings, Democrat segregationist senator, as ‘great, great friend’
Former Vice President Joe Biden praised another Democratic segregationist and former Senate colleague on Wednesday.
In a speech in South Carolina, Mr. Biden called Sen. Fritz Hollings, South Carolina Democrat, a “great, great friend” who “helped me a great deal through some very difficult times.”
.@JoeBiden praises his "great, great friend" the late Sen. Ernest Hollings and says he "misses" him.
Hollings was a segregationist in the early '50s while in Congress. Biden has previously said he was "wrong" to give the "impression" he was praising segregationists. pic.twitter.com/jld44tBNZz
— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) August 28, 2019
The terms are almost exactly the same as the widely criticized remarks he had made about his warm relationships with Democratic Sens. James Eastland of Mississippi and Herman Talmedge of Georgia, even though he had told Politico “I’m not using those examples any more.”
Apparently, Hollings is the new example.
In a decades-long political career, like almost all Southern Democrats at the time, Hollings backed segregation and forms of racism.
It was during his term as governor, for example, that South Carolina put the Confederate battle flag above its State House, sparking a decades-long battle over the emblem. While in the U.S. Senate, he sponsored anti-busing measures and was one of 11 senators who voted against the nomination of Thurgood Marshall as first black justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.
Hollings was, however, one of the first significant Southern white Democrats to relent on segregation. In his final speech as governor to the General Assembly in 1963, he urged the acceptance of integrated public schools and said “South Carolina is running out of courts.”
Hollings expressed other forms of prejudice too and much later than the civil-rights era.
In a 1981 floor debate, he referred to Sen. Howard Metzenbaum of Ohio, who is Jewish, as “the senator from B’nai B’rith.” And after the Iowa straw poll for the 1984 Democratic presidential primaries, he said Sen. Alan Cranston of California had finished ahead of him because “you had wetbacks from California that came in here for Cranston.”
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