Reading the Washington Times obituary and a loving tribute by friend and fellow columnist Joseph Sobran, you'd have no idea that Francis was fired by the Times and lost favor with most conservatives for explicitly racist commentary.
Francis was so outspoken in his views that it was amazing he still had Creators Syndicate distributing his work. Media Matters compiled his lowlights in December. You almost had to admire him for making his contempt so clear, when it was so obviously detrimental to his career.
Sobran employs several euphemisms to soften his pal's unreconstructed views on race: "He was an uncompromising Southern paleoconservative, with an abiding contempt for Lincoln and the liberal tradition."
To give you an idea of how hardcore Francis was on the subject, in the 1995 column that led to his dismissal by the newspaper, he lamented the decision by the Southern Baptist church to condemn the practice of slavery:
Not until the Enlightenment of the 18th century did a bastardized version of Christian ethics condemn slavery. Today we know that version under the label of 'liberalism,' or its more extreme cousin communism.
When conservatives like Jack Kemp were not happy to see Francis define their ideology as pro-slavery, the controversy led to public scrutiny of a lot of other colorful articles and comments he voiced.
I wouldn't go as far as the Washington Examiner, which viciously declares the U.S. a "better place without him."
I do think, however, that we're better off to have seen his views on race slip so far out of the mainstream during his short lifetime.
Now, if we could just get that former Grand Dragon of the KKK out of Congress...
I would have trouble voting for Sen. Byrd, regardless of his party affiliation and his talent at raising hell. But having those views in the past is different than proudly espousing them in the present.
To my knowledge, Francis was unapologetic on the subject of race since his firing by The Times.
I know one person would might be dancing over this one: Morris Dees. I remember reading some of Francis' work in a conservative magazine about 12 years ago, but the topic matter wasn't race. It wasn't until I did some reasearch for a bit on by blog that I discovered that Dees and the SPLC/Klanwatch had marked Francis as a particularly despicable racist. It's funny what you don't know about some people. I just never found Francis compelling enough as a "conservative" writer to bother looking at his other opinions.
Wow, I had to read that twice. Between "Jesus was a liberal" and "Only bastard communists claim that Jesus opposed slavery" is just a few adjectives.