Black Conservative Group Asks: Where's The Liberal Outrage Over Byrd's Remark

By Jim Burns | July 7, 2008 | 8:27 PM EDT

( - Project 21, a group of conservative African-Americans, said Monday they are "concerned by the lack of spirited criticism by the civil rights establishment" of a statement by Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) on Sunday referring to whites who still opposed equal civil rights as "white niggers."

"The same people who castigated Republicans, President Bush, in particular, as racist now give Byrd a pass for his using the world 'nigger' just because he's a Democrat like them. What a bunch of nonsense," Project 21 member Kevin Washington said in a statement.

Project 21 also said it is concerned that "the NAACP, which spent millions against then presidential candidate George W. Bush, focusing on false allegations that his decision not to sign a specific hate crimes bill [Texas already had one] led to the death of James Byrd, is doing little to criticize the intentionally offensive comments of liberal Senator Byrd. Such contrasts give the impression that the group is unfairly pulling its punches when dealing with racist behavior on the part of liberal politicians."

"I think the way Robert Byrd's racist comments were treated is typical of our current civil rights leadership. Groups like the NAACP have become nothing more than liberal mouthpieces. They must hold the Democrats to the same standards they've held Republicans lest it become apparent that they've sold their souls and credibility to the liberal cause," Project 21 member Kevin Martin said in a statement.

In an interview on Fox News Sunday, Sen. Byrd said he thinks race relations are "much, much better than they've ever been in my lifetime...I think we talk about race too much. I think those problems are largely behind us. I think we try to have good will."

Then he reminisced that his mother had told him: "'Robert you can't go to heaven if you hate anybody.' We practice that. There are white niggers. I've seen a lot of white niggers in my time; I'm going to use that word," he said.

Later, Byrd issued the following statement, which was read on-air: "I apologize for the characterization I used on this program. The phrase dates back to my boyhood and has no place in today's society. As for my language, I had no intention of casting aspersions on anyone of another race."

NAACP President Kweisi Mfume called Byrd's comment "both repulsive and revealing." Mfume told a wire service he's disturbed by the fact that Byrd felt comfortable enough to use such a word in describing any group.

It "suggests that any progress Byrd has made on race is relative," according to Mfume. He added that while Byrd's apology was well meant, there comes a time when a person must stop using words that require apologies.

Project 21 is an initiative of the National Center for Public Policy Research whose mission is "promote the views of African-Americans whose entrepreneurial spirit, dedication to family and commitment to individual responsibility has not traditionally been echoed by the nation's civil rights establishment."

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