Hypocrisy Never Dies

senator_200-28f076f0ff7bd0151954ea414d90c8074b471ff9-s6-c10The death of Essie Mae Washington-Williams at age 87 closes one of the most shocking scandals of all time–and a revelation of the hypocrisy that plagues American politics.

Nine years ago, Washington-Williams rocked the world in revealing that she was the biracial daughter of the recently deceased segregationist, Strom Thurmond. Thurmond, a 48-year senator from South Carolina, holds the infamous record of the longest personal filibuster, clocking in at 24 hours, 18 minutes, stopping the Civil Rights Act of 1957.  When the act passed in 1964, Strom resigned from the Democratic Party. What we didn’t know at the time was that many years before, when Strom was 22, he impregnated his family’s 16-year-old housekeeper.

While the debate over segregation is now over, hypocrisy still reigns in a 21st century issue: gay rights. The anti-gay movement is rife with modern-day Thurmonds, whose vitriolic rhetoric is an attempt to cover up their own questions about sexuality, or in some cases, sexual wrongdoing.

There’s Ted Haggard, the Colorado mega church pastor turned “heterosexual with complications” after he admitted to having sex with two men in 2006.  In Georgia, mega church pastor Eddie Long just returned to the pulpit in January after a sabbatical and settling out of court with four former male church members who alleged misconduct. In 2010, George Rekers, the proponent of gay conversion therapy and co-founder of the conservative Family Research Council, was discovered to have hired a male prostitute to “carry his luggage.” And last month, anti-gay evangelical lawyer Lisa Biron of New Hampshire was convicted on charges of possessing child pornography for molesting and filming her teenage daughter in a variety of sex acts.

Espousing hate and promoting discrimination against any minority group is never in vogue, but it’s especially distasteful when it masks a personal secret. At these times, especially, actions do speak louder than words.

Published by Alex Petros

Alex Petros is a staff writer for The Politic from Lexington, Kentucky. Contact him at alexander.petros@yale.edu.

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