Monday, November 3, 2008

Alabama: Still on the Wrong Side of History

It's hard to know whether to laugh or to cry upon reading the following quote from Mike Hubbard, chairman of the Alabama Republican Party:

"I think some of us in Alabama are just baffled by how the rest of the country seems to be falling for a guy who is a socialist and Marxist."

It's easy to laugh at Hubbard's ignorance of history. But it's sad to think that we are in 2008, and Alabama still has its head--and heart--buried in the past. In fact, the same could be said of Alabama's brethren in the Deep South--with the possible exception of Georgia, which shows signs of crawling out from under the rock of racial fear and resentment.

Let's take a shot at clearing up some of Hubbard's bafflement. And we will start with this question: "Mike, when has Alabama ever been on the right side of history?"

Well, let's consider:

* Alabama supported slavery, big time;

* Alabama was at the heart of the Confederacy;

* Alabama supported Jim Crow laws;

* Alabama was at the heart of the Dixiecrat movement to resist racial integration;

* Alabama was wholeheartedly behind efforts to fight civil rights and voting rights legislation;

* Alabama was at the center of a coalition of states that became part of the Republican Party's "Southern Strategy" to make electoral gains based on racial fears and resentments;

* Alabama is at the heart of the GOP's "Solid South," which has voted Republican in every presidential election since 1980 and has supported policies that led to mounting national debt, the foreign-policy debacle in Iraq, and the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

Yep, the Solid South, that's where the Dixiecrats came home to roost--in organizations like the Alabama Republican Party.

So Mike, let's ask our question a different way: "When has Alabama ever been 'guilty' of forward thinking?" Answer: Never.

Who is really out of step here--the rest of the country or Alabama?

Mike, you are just the latest in a long line of disgraced Alabama politicians whose ideas have been discredited by history.

Your forebears made statements like:

* "I'm baffled that the rest of the country is against slavery."

* "I'm baffled that the rest of the country is against Jim Crow laws."

* "I'm baffled that the rest of the country supports civil rights."

Here, at Legal Schnauzer, I quite often receive comments from well-meaning readers that go something like this: "Your problem is that you live in Alabama. I used to live there, and I got out at the first opportunity. It's a hellhole, worse than Scranton, Pennsylvania, and Wilmington, Delaware. (Props to Jason Sudeikis/Joe Biden.)"

I understand those sentiments, but I don't quite share them. Yes, I get terribly frustrated with my adopted home state. But I've lived here 30 years, and no one has forced me to stay, so I must find something appealing about this "hellhole."

Actually, I thought up a whole laundry list of good things about Alabama and put them in a post, "Alabama: Love it or Leave it?" a few months back.

At times, I feel like the father of an unruly adopted child who drives me crazy and causes me to toss and turn at night. But I see so much potential in the child that I'm just not ready to kick him to the curb.

With that, let's hope that the nation makes a giant leap forward tomorrow. And let's hope that even Alabama takes a few baby steps toward progress.

You see, Mike Hubbard and his "conservative brethren" have for years been making their political living by telling Southerners, "No, we can't."

Perhaps the tide is starting to turn, as Southerners slowly realize, "Yes, We Can." If you don't believe it, check out this video:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The story that is not often told is how the Republicans' pandering to racism has actually helped to pass racism on to a later generation in the South than it has been in the rest of the country. By making poor Southern whites feel good about themselves because they can look down on blacks through their stereotypes, racism is rewarded and perpetuated. This so called soft bigotry is every bit as harmful as the violent bigotry of the KKK. Alabama cannot prosper until this soft bigotry is rooted out.
jim gundlach