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Courtland Milloy: Congressmen show grace, restraint in the face of disrespect

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"It reminds me of that period in our history right after Reconstruction," Clyburn said, "when South Carolina had a black governor and the political gains were lost because of vigilantism, the rise of the Ku Klux Klan."

Of course, black people are not supposed to have such memories. Forgive -- and forget; that's what we are supposed to do. See, we live in post-racial America now, with a black president and all. So, if anybody is racist, it's black people.

The esteemed Stuart Taylor all but said as much in a 2008 column he wrote for the National Journal.

After discounting the racism at campaign rallies for the Republican presidential ticket, Taylor concluded, "The ugliest race-tinged comment by any prominent leader during this campaign came not from a Republican but from Rep. John Lewis, the Georgia Democrat. . . . Lewis accused McCain and Palin on October 11 of 'sowing the seeds of hatred and division,' likening them to George Wallace, the segregationist Alabama governor who created an 'atmosphere of hate [in which] four little girls were killed.' Lewis should be ashamed of himself."

So, here we are, nearly two years later, and Lewis is walking a two-block gauntlet of white hate from the Capitol to the Cannon House Office Building. A racial epithet spews from a crowd being restrained by Capitol Police.

"It reminded me of photographs I saw of the jeering crowds when Central High was being integrated by the Little Rock 9 in 1957," said Lewis, 70, a civil rights veteran and one of the nation's most distinguished advocates for justice and racial quality.

"It also reminded me of the angry demeanor of white people when a group of us were being arrested in February 1960 in Nashville, during a civil rights demonstration. As we were being led to a police van, people lined the streets just like they were at the Capitol, and they were yelling 'The niggers are coming!' and 'Go back to Africa!' "

There he goes again, remembering.

Makes me mad as hell.


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