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Fulton’s Quarter Column of Holiday Fur and Segregationist “Peckers”

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& ull; Fur better or fur worse: Holiday retail sales figures are so boring. The real action, at least in the animal-rights bastion of Salt Lake City, is getting dueling press releases from the Fur Information Council of America, PETA and the Utah Animal Rights Coalition. “Consumers can’t get enough of fur lately,” touts a Nov. 26 FICA press release, which goes on to trumpet reported sales last season of $1.7 billion. Must be due to the “innovative techniques and designs” of those enterprising “manufacturers.” Balderdash, says a vociferous PETA President Ingrid Newkirk, who claims fur sales are “in the toilet.” “Die-hard fur-wearers can expect to be confronted all winter with graphic illustrations of animals who have suffered and been slaughtered for their skins,” Newkirk warns.

Undaunted, FICA fired off a Dec. 10 press release bragging about more creative fur uses—a “fur bikini”!—and uses the word “ultimate” a grand total of five times. “With this holiday season shaping up to be a solid one for luxury goods, indulgence seems to be a key theme in gift giving. And what could be more indulgent than a sumptuous fur coat?” Yeah, that’s a question FICA Executive Director Keith Kaplan would really like an answer to. If the animal-rights crowd wants to make matters really interesting, perhaps they should consider a campaign against foie gras. Gourmet restaurants are so much more fun to protest.

& ull; When libido trumps principle (if you can call it that): It was in 1948 as a presidential candidate against Harry Truman that Strom Thurmond declared that “there’s not enough troops in the Army to force the Southern people to break down segregation and admit the Negro race into our theaters, into our swimming pools, into our homes and into our churches.” And it was in 1957 that Thurmond, then a South Carolina senator, held a filibuster against the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling ending school desegregation. The “Thurmonator” called it “race mixing.”

How ironic, then, that the family of the late, longest-serving U.S. senator now admits that, in 1925, Thurmond, at the ripe and horny age of 22, sired a baby girl with a teenage black housekeeper. Such news is no big deal today, thankfully. Unless the Republicans would like to open an independent investigation that would have Kenneth Starr cross-examine Thurmond’s recently laid-to-rest corpse, that is.

The stench of such hypocrisy is real enough, but at least it demonstrates that Thurmond’s heart wasn’t always in line with his bigoted words. Later in life, he hired and appointed many African Americans to prominent positions. Through it all, his taste for pleasures of the flesh never waned. Thurmond married two Southern beauty queens, the first 23 years his junior, the second a whopping 44 years his junior.

Talk was rife that Lyndon Johnson forbade the women in his family to go anywhere near the man. Even before his death, Texas Sen. John Tower said that “When he dies they’ll have to beat his pecker down with a baseball bat in order to close the coffin lid.”

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