Shed no tears for Trent Lott. The stupid son-of-a-bitch deserves whatever happens.

His incredibly dumb praise of retiring Sen. Strom Thurmond’s failed 1948 run for the presidency on a segregationist platform turned the normally dull holiday news season into Washington’s latest political free for all.

Democrats rushed out in glee to cash in on the political advantage Lott has given them as a Christmas present. Republicans, split between a desire to support one of their own and absolute disgust over what he said, can’t decide what to do.

Blacks say this just shows whites are still a bunch of racists. Whites say, hey, this was all in the past and they’re liberated now.

There’s no doubt Lott should lose his job as Senate Majority Leader. If, as he claims, he bragged about his state’s support of Thurmond’s racist presidential campaign without realizing the racial overtones of his words, then he’s too dumb to be in the job anyway.

Those who know Lott best say he was fully aware of what he said and didn’t really care because his own political history is littered with support of racists. He’s bragged before about Mississippi’s support of Thurmond, voted to protect federal funding for schools that discriminate, backed all-white fraternities and stood alone to oppose black nominees for federal appointments.

Any Republican who defends him risks tagging the party with a lingering image as a haven for white boys who hate the colored folk.

But Democrats who seek to turn this into political opportunity have more than a few honkies in their woodpile. Sen. Robert Byrd once proudly boasted of his membership in the Ku Klux Klan and as late as this year referred to “white niggers” in one of his speeches. A number of Democrats opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Racism is, and always has been, a cancer on the American soul, but it is not limited to party, gender, region, class or culture.

Jesse Jackson called New York “Hymietown” during his failed 1988 run for the presidency. Those were the words of a racist.

When Louis Farrakahn preaches hate against whites, it is racism.

When the United States Government herded Japanese-American families into concentration camps during World War II, it was racism.

When vandals break the windows of a store owned by an Arab American, it is racism.

When a university is forced to consider race over academic scholarship for the selection of students, it is racism.

And when the interlopers to this land drove Indians from their homes and onto reservations it was racism.

Racists don’t just wear white sheets and burn crosses. They write rap songs that urge killing cops and whites. They write country songs that wish “the South had won the war.”

And they roam the halls of the U.S. Congress as members of both parties.

Racism exists when people of all races can’t control their hate.

Racism thrives when people of all races can’t, or won’t, put their philosophical differences aside long enough to realize that ignorance, not color, generates bias.

Racism continues because those who posture the most or wave the flag the hardest are all too often the ones who still do not believe that all people are created equal.