A reader writes:
I can't refute your claim that Byrd directed an inordinate amount of monies to his state, nor any of your other claims about him for that matter. I will say that I was impressed that he was close to the only person to have spoken the truth about the Iraq war before it began. And I am happy he lived long enough -- and was shamed enough about his past ways -- to endorse Obama over Clinton. The first act showed that he was astute enough to know the war was wrong and that he was bold enough to say it when the tide was largely against him. The second act showed that people can change, pure and simple. He doesn't deserve a loving tribute, perhaps, but he deserves props for those two acts.
I'm no apologist for Senator Byrd, but I am certainly aware of his repentance of his racism. A white person born 92 years ago and living in West Virginia would be nothing but a racist because it would be the only thing he was taught. He lived long enough, and had enough flexibility of intellect, to overcome those powerful teachings of his culture. His acknowledgment of his wrongdoing and his regret mean, according to your faith, that he has been forgiven, and it's not your place to continue to tar him for those sins.
Throughout much of his career but moreso in his later years, Sen. Byrd was a champion for the humane treatment of animals. Byrd fought to end intensive confinement of animals on factory farms, barbaric cockfighting, and the slaughter of horses for human consumption. He fought for minimal humane slaughter protections for all "food" animals, including the over nine billion birds slaughtered annually. At a time when there are so few true champions for animals left in the Senate, Byrd’s leadership will be missed.
(Photo: U.S. Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) asks a question during a hearing before the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee May 20, 2010 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The hearing was to examine issues regarding the safety of coal mining. By Alex Wong/Getty Images.)