Saturday, November 27, 2004

Southern Strategy Bears Strange Fruit 

Courtesy of Zemblan patriot J.M.: While it is our official policy to counsel compassion, understanding and patience toward our distant cousins who have, through some gruesome accident of fate or inbreeding, the misfortune to dwell in deepest, darkest Dixie -- where they don't believe in evolution because it hasn't gotten there yet -- this latest eruption of rancid, willful pig-ignorance is enough to try even our legendary patience. We have no choice but to warn our flatheaded cracker brethren in the sternest possible terms: one more stunt like this, and we're linking to FucktheSouth.com. From tomorrow's Washington Post:
On that long-ago day of Alabama's great shame, Gov. George C. Wallace (D) [cute touch there, WaPo! -- S.] stood in a schoolhouse door and declared that his state's constitution forbade black students to enroll at the University of Alabama.

He was correct.

If Wallace could be brought back to life today to reprise his 1963 moment of infamy outside Foster Auditorium, he would still be correct. Alabama voters made sure of that on Nov. 2, refusing to approve a constitutional amendment that would have erased segregation-era wording requiring separate schools for "white and colored children" and would have eliminated references to the poll taxes once imposed to disenfranchise blacks.

The vote was so close -- a margin of fewer than 1,850 votes out of 1.38 million cast -- that an automatic recount will take place Monday. But, with few expecting the recount to change the result, the amendment's saga has dragged Alabama into a confrontation with its segregationist past that illuminates the sometimes uneasy race relations of its present . . . .

The amendment had two main parts: the removal of the separate-schools language and the removal of a passage -- inserted in the 1950s in an attempt to counter the Brown v. Board of Education ruling against segregated public schools -- that said Alabama's constitution does not guarantee a right to a public education. Leading opponents, such as Alabama Christian Coalition President John Giles, said they did not object to removing the passage about separate schools for "white and colored children." But, employing an argument that was ridiculed by most of the state's newspapers and by legions of legal experts, Giles and others said guaranteeing a right to a public education would have opened a door for "rogue" federal judges to order the state to raise taxes to pay for improvements in its public school system.

The argument plays to Alabama's primal fear of federal control, a fear born of years of resentment over U.S. courts' ordering the desegregation of schools and the creation of black-majority legislative districts.

"Activists on the bench know no bounds," Giles said. "It's a trial lawyer's dream."

Giles was aided by a virtually unparalleled Alabama celebrity in his battle against the amendment, distributing testimonials from former chief justice Roy Moore, whose fame was sealed in 2003 when he defied a federal court order to remove a two-ton granite Ten Commandments monument from the rotunda of the Alabama Supreme Court. They were joined by former Moore aide Tom Parker, who handed out miniature Confederate flags this fall during his successful campaign for a seat on the Alabama Supreme Court.
Which brings to mind that memorable passage from Alexander Pope's "An Essay on Man":

A hillbilly farmer named Hollis
Turned to possums and snakes for his solace.
The kids all had scales
And prehensile tales
And voted for Governor Wallace.

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