This week, Ted Cruz accused Joe Biden of applying double standards, highlighting a seeming contradiction in the President’s stance on white supremacy. Cruz alleged that despite Biden’s vocal condemnation of white supremacist terrorists, he had once eulogized a former member of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK).
In an interview with Newsmax on August 30, 2023, Cruz pointed out a clip where Biden referred to white supremacy as the “most lethal terrorist threat” faced by the United States. Cruz criticized this stance, juxtaposing it with the fact that Biden had given a eulogy for a KKK “exalted cyclops.”
The context, however, is vital to understanding the situation.
Cruz highlighted that in 2010, Biden delivered a eulogy for Robert C. Byrd, a Democratic West Virginia Senator who had been associated with the KKK in his youth. Byrd held the title of “exalted cyclops,” a local leadership position within the KKK. Byrd’s involvement with the KKK in the 1940s included recruiting new members for his chapter, but he later expressed deep regret for his actions, attributing them to youthful indiscretion and ambition.
During Biden’s eulogy, he praised Byrd’s role in the Senate and referred to him as “the embodiment of his state.” Byrd’s complex history included controversies such as a 14-hour filibuster against the 1964 Civil Rights Act. However, he spent a significant portion of his later career denouncing his past attitudes and making amends.
Byrd’s journey toward redemption and his commitment to rectifying his past actions garnered positive recognition, even from organizations like the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) upon his passing.
In essence, while Cruz’s accusation holds some factual basis, it fails to capture the nuanced narrative behind Biden’s eulogy for Senator Byrd. Byrd’s transformation from a young man influenced by the KKK to a senator striving for redemption and change reflects a broader story of personal growth and societal evolution.