Richard Russel, was as many of his time, extremely complicated. On one hand, he was a staunch supporter of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal that lifted many out of poverty. On the other hand, Richard Russell was a racist and a white supremacist.
Russell voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964. He led a filibuster against an anti lynching bill. He supported poll taxes to keep black people from voting. In short, Senator Richard Russell was dedicated to upholding the Jim crow South and forcing black people into a life of de facto slavery.
After the death of John McCain, Senator Schumer, the Democratic leader in the Senate, proposed renaming the Russell Building for McCain. In yet another dog whistle to Trump’s racist base, many Senate Republicans are unwilling to back Schumer’s overdue plan.
Taking the name of a devout racist and unabashed white supremacist off of a Senate building shouldn’t be controversial. Actually, the building never should have been named for Russell in the first place. But the idea that Republicans can’t universally support renaming a building that represents all Americans so that it no longer caries the name of a open hate monger, demonstrates the reality that the GOP is dependent on racists and white supremacists to win elections. It also shows that many Republican politicians are at least racist and maybe white supremacists.