Lost Causes &Then Some
By Stetson Kennedy
Vol. 9, No. 5, 1987, pp. 16-24
This is the second of two articles on the once and future South, as viewed from the perspective of a life-long organizer, activist and writer. Forty years have elapsed since publication of the author’s book, Southern Exposure. The players have changed, but in too many respects the game remains the same.
World War II, as anticipated, generated a degree of black disaffection which came up against American apartheid after the manner of the proverbial irresistable [sic] force against the immovable object.
“They ain’t agonna do it–not so long as Gene Talmadge is Governor, they ain’t!” the “Wild Man of Sugar Creek” was bellowing.
As is the wont of those enamored of the status quo, ’twas said that legislation would be of no avail against race prejudice, and that only education could do the job “in time.” But America’s blacks had had enough of gradualist soft-soap. When a Southern judge admonished a black woman before the bar, “You people can’t expect equal justice all in a minute,” she retorted, “God knows it’s been a long minute!”
In all of my scrawling and drawling I contended that there was no more educational a process than the experience of working, studying, playing, praying, living and traveling together-and hence the efficacy of civil rights legislation in all these fields.
I went on to point out that Southern blacks, during Reconstruction and ever after, had proven that they had no desire to supplant white supremacy with black. And to my white compatriots I argued further that desegregation would not hurt, and that they would feel much better about themselves when it was all over. And I often concluded with the observation of the preacher who said, “Since we’re all hopefully headed for an integrated Heaven, we might as well start practicing now.”
My first book, Palmetto Country, appeared at the outset of the war. Charged by someone to pick it to pieces, Florida academia concluded sadly that it could find no error. A “premature anti-fascist” before the war, I was prevented by a back injury from joining the armed forces. With all my classmates headed for the shooting war, I resolved to fight fascism at home by infiltrating the Klan and other terrorist groups. There were plenty of people inveighing against the Klan, but no one seemed to have the hard evidence needed to take it into a court of law.
First on my list of some twenty groups eventually infiltrated was the White Front of Miami, which even after Britain got into the war was still distributing Nazi Propaganda Ministry materials, and threatening to drive “all the Jews on Miami Beach into the sea.” As the war progressed, I put together a manuscript for another book, under the working title The Four Freedoms Down South.
Meanwhile, Palmetto Country had caught the eye of Dr. George S. Mitchell, who in 1944 invited me to join him in Atlanta as editorial assistant at his post as Southeastern director of CIO/PAC. My job was to write educational materials suitable for the union’s rank-and-file.
“Stick to four-letter Anglo-Saxon,” Mitchell said. “I don’t want to see any Latin derivatives whatever.”
I did as directed, turning out a series on the poll tax, white primary, and other restrictions on voting in the South. After being first published in the SRC’s Southern Frontier, reprints were ordered in the 100,000-range, and distributed to CIO locals throughout the region, apparently with good effect. One of my union buddies, Georgia-boy R. E. Starnes, organizer for Steel, had a way of enhancing the effect by handing them out with the admonition, “I wouldn’t spit on a union man who wouldn’t give a dollar to help reelect FDR!”
In 1945, word came from Frank McCallister of the CIO’s advisory council to the War Labor Board that the president of the Senate had relied heavily upon my “Plain Facts About the Polltax” in introducing an anti-poll tax bill. Rather than let Uncle Sam do it for them, the poll tax states busied themselves abolishing it on their own. In Georgia, even Ole Gene Talmadge jumped on the bandwagon, writing in his Statesman, “I decided that the best way to keep the negroes from voting is to let all the white folks vote, and then pass the word that Mr. N—–r is not wanted at the polls.”
When I approached him in my nomme de Klan guise as
“John Perkins,” I tried to pull his leg by saying that Ellis Arnall was claiming credit for abolishing the tax. Ole Gene just smirked, “Well, you know credit is like water–it sort of flows around.”
The disunity/cheapness of Southern labor was no less of a depressant than black exclusion. While Operation Dixie was striving mightily to organize the unorganized, I ventured to voice to director Van Bittner my concern that while his staff was doing its job of getting people signed up, the unions were doing an abysmal job of making confirmed unionists out of them once they were in. After scant reflection, Bittner replied, “Millions for organizing; not a penny for revivals.”
I was not surprised, therefore, when for example the Lockheed plant shut down in Marietta, Georgia, the brethren and sistren of the union local voted unanimously to empty its treasury for a farewell beer and barbeque binge, after which they went back to being the same old non-unionists they had remained at heart.
In those days journalist George Seldes (now 97 and still producing) was putting out his newsletter In Fact, dedicated to “exposing falsehood in the press” (it would take a lot more than four pages today), to which I sometimes contributed. Seldes knocked himself out, trying to convince labor that if it didn’t launch its own media it could not hold its own, much less prevail, against all the anti-labor propaganda being leveled against it. The union bosses paid him no “nevermind,” and labor has paid the price ever since.
By 1946 my wartime book manuscript had changed its name to “Southern Exposure,” and was scheduled for publication by Doubleday. But then came a telegram from editor Bucklin Moon: “Get here fast as you can. Bring all documentation. Lawyer says everything in it libelous.”
When my cartons and I reached the lawyer’s offices on Wall Street, he howled, “Whadaya mean calling Prentiss a fascist? I play golf with him every weekend!”
But those were the days when publishers had a measure of principle and courage, and we went to press with nothing changed.
The impact of the book was all I had hoped for, and more. In Atlanta it was banned, ostensibly for using (once) that fourletter word (Hemingway had just done it in To Have and Nave Not, so I thought I could too). Sales jumped appreciably.
Mississippi’s Sen. Theodore “The Man” Bilbo was more to the point. From a hospital bed where he was being prepped for surgery for cancer of the mouth he called in reporters and read to them from Southern Exposure and Lillian Smith’s Color Blind. He much preferred his doctor’s throat-cutting style, he said–they were going to cut up and
down, while books such as these cut across.
On the other hand, Ellis Arnall graciously reviewed it for the New York Times, and sat down to write his own The Shore Dimly Seen. Dr. Clark Foreman asked me to help research one for him, and I started under the title Moneybags Scalawags, but the money ran out. From the black and labor press came endorsement of my strategy for achieving “total equality.” Perhaps most encouraging was a review in a Virginia paper, titled “Under Exposed.” After dutifully castigating it, the writer concluded, “But perhaps you should read it after all, and search your own conscience, and make up your own mind.” I took this to be one more sign that the South might yet change its apartheid ways with less bloodletting than was generally being prophesied.
TOGETHERNESS A MANY-DOORED THING
Integration was destined to enter through many doors. For a long time, whenever some “visiting fireman” from up North came to town, anti-apartheid Southern whites and blacks received them with what hospitality they could muster, but behind tightly-drawn blinds, lest someone hurl a stick of dynamite. At Highlander Folk School in Monteagle, Tennessee, small groups of whites and blacks braved fire and shotgun blasts in order to studying organizing, and do a little square-dancing. At Clayton, Georgia, Lillian Smith and Paula Snelling hosted interracial weekend rap sessions on the iniquity of Jim Crow.
The unsegregated annual meetings of the SCHW demonstrated that what had not been possible in Birmingham was entirely possible in New Orleans. And the SRC, true to its promise, was using its good offices to persuade, for example, the city fathers of Macon to hire a black policeman (with the proviso that he not carry a gun, and not arrest any white folks). History took it from there–
From my vantage point, however, it seemed to me that the CIO deserves more credit than any other single organization for softening-up the white South for righteousness. Without regard to the degree of success which its Operation Dixie achieved in terms of members of locals, it was the CIO which gave the South’s white and black working folk their first taste of solidarity, and I saw it happening.
When we first started holding union meetings at CIO HQ, 75 Ivey Street, Atlanta, Mitchell and I were dismayed to see that whites and blacks segregated themselves, front and rear. We thought we had found the solution when we jumbled all the chairs in such manner that there were no discernible horizontal rows. But we had left the aisle down the middle, and the brothers and sisters promptly segregated themselves left and right. Finally we wiped out the center aisle, too. This time they got the idea, and sat down wherever they could find an empty chair.
Another of those traditional chasms was crossed when a union local decided to have a covered-dish supper. The perplexing problem of who would serve whom was solved by the white ladies taking it all upon themselves.
Then there was the matter of the drinking fountain at union headquarters. In the dark of night, some journeyman plumber took it upon himself to run a pipe three feet off to one side and attach to it a smaller auxiliary fount. No signs were affixed, but everybody knew which was who’s. Again under cover of darkness, someone disconnected the auxiliary, and it stayed that way, a mute symbol of a South in transition.
Many a native white organizer “came through” in a well-nigh religious sense on the race issue. Steel’s Starnes was a sterling example. Inside the lionheart which enabled him and others to stand before a mill and say “I’m going to organize it” there was a poet, and he often sent me samples. One came with the handwritten note:
Stet look this over. Be sure to correct the spelling the typewriters they are making now days dont know how to spell. Let me know if the PAC can use it but don’t put it in the Union Leader with my name on it if these people knew how I felt on this subject they would lynch me before night. In fact I think they have already got the tree picked out to hang me on.
What he sent me was:
Since we Rebels joined forces with the Yanks
We’ve felled the Axis with their hateful pranks.
Our Bosses tell us to “hate the n—r,”
But thair is one thing that I can’t figure–
We all go to work day and night
Regardless of wheather [sic] we’re black or white.
The pay we get decides our fate
In spite of all our petty hate.
So it’s time we workers were getting wise,
and forgetting our hates, organize!
There were also the likes of Bishop Shaw of the AME Church, Birmingham, who got up before a CIO regional convention and said, “When I first heard of this CIO, I asked ‘What does it stand for?’ The answer I got was, ‘White and colored in the same union.’ when I heard that, I put on my war-boots and my preachin’-coat, and I been preachin’ the principles of CIO-ism ever since!”
Bishop Shaw went on to relate how, as a member of a CIO bargaining committee, they got into the “front elevator” of the mill boss’s skyscraper, and rode up to his offices on the top floor. They told the secretary to tell the boss that the bargaining committee was there and wanted to talk to him. In no time at all the boss popped out, saying “Come right in, boys! Seddown and have a chair! Have a cigar!”
“Power was on the throne!” Bishop Shaw exulted. He concluded by relating how he had told the boss, “We made you rich, now you let us live decent!”
Nor will I ever forget the black coal miner from Kentucky, who spoke of the difficulty of telling, when the miners emerged from the pit all covered with coal dust, what color they were underneath.
“White or black, you’re a coal miner still,” he said. Referring to the equal rights language in CIO charters, he went on to say, “I think we ought to either live up to it, or take it out.” And he concluded, “If we ever goin’ to get anywhere, we got to get there together!”
WHEN THE SIGNS CAME DOWN
I am not going to take space to tell how it was that blacks and whites did get together in the fifties and sixties, and march on and on until apartheid had been overcome and they could shout “Free at last! Great God Allmighty, free at last!” While I marched with King at Albany, Oxford, Selma, and St. Augustine, and chronicled the period in the pages of the Pittsburgh Courier, those events are still fresh in human memory, and need little recounting just yet.
What may be worth stressing is that the motive power came from blacks themselves. And while there was adult leadership and participation, in a very real sense the freedom marches were a children’s crusade (as what war isn’t?). It was the spectacle of skinny-legged sub-teen girls who did not flinch when inches away police dogs gnashed their teeth that finally moved the American public and all three branches of Government to remedial action.
I recall how, on the morning after the Supreme Court decision of ’64 rending asunder the integument of apartheid, the first black I saw was riding a bike.
“Okay,” I said silently to him and myself, “you’re on your own from here on out. At last you’ve got the same legal legs to stand on as all the immigrant groups who have hacked their way into the Mainstream.”
It wasn’t that I begrudged the lifetime I had spent in The Cause–far from it. I was as elated at having lived to see the outcome as he must have been. But I was tired, and there
were so many causes crying out.
My personal contribution to the Jubilee was to gloat in The Courier, “Every day, gains are being made which can never be taken away!”
Some speech-writer for that other Kennedy (the one in the White House) must have picked up on it, for soon the Nation had the message on no lesser authority than that of JFK.
I, as a student of Reconstruction and human struggles for liberation generally, should have known better. I don’t know why he was so confident, but my faith was based upon black militancy. I didn’t think blacks would ever allow anyone to take any of it from them. Now, a single generation later, it is all too apparent that the gains of the Second Reconstruction, like those of the First, can and are being whittled away.
It is not the bedsheet brigade this time (though they are with us yet), but plainclothed Klux in Washington, whose stock-in-trade is not to terrorize but bamboozle.
Before getting into that, let me say what a great day it was when the “White” and “Colored” signs came down all over America. I raced from dumpster to dumpster, retrieving them as artifacts for some future Museum of Horrors. (Alas, termites got them, which may be just as well.) Best of all was watching Woolworth’s clear its shelves of what had so long been best-sellers. Perhaps they can recycle them as “Open to the Public,” or even “Welcome” signs, I mused.
I must say I was extremely proud of the good grace which I most of my white Southern brethren were able to muster for the desegregation process, after having sworn for so long that they would “die first.” Perhaps the fundamentalist churches, albeit unwittingly, deserve a bit of the credit, having so often put them through the paces of redemption and being born again. In any event, Mr. and Mrs. Charlie came through with flying colors. I was utterly enthralled when the ladles of both colors sat down to luncheon together for the first time. For once the tradition of chivalry stood the South in good stead, as they vied with one another not merely in civility but conviviality. Nor was my enthusiasm more than slightly dampened when I recalled that lynchings, too, had sometimes been carried out with a certain air of noblesse oblige.
CHANGING, FOR BETTER OR WORSE:
To be sure, the South has changed mightily–oft-times for the better, but not always.
Ever since its conquest by Europeans, until recently, the South was something of a self-contained continuum, with nobody much to deal with but damn yankees. Yet today the future of the South does not rest exclusively in the hands of white Southerners, nor white and black Southerners, nor those folks up yonder. While all of these still count, the fate of the South may hinge upon decisions made in such faraway places as Geneva and Tokyo.
This is not to say that the old hallmarks of Southern progress–the Constitutional formula for counting blacks as three-fifths of a person, Dred Scott, Secession, Emancipation, Reconstruction, Klan terror, Deal of ’76, Booker Washington’s half-a-loaf and Henry Grady’s New South–have lost any of their historical meaning. It is just that if you’re dead, you’re dead, and all causes are lost ones. We need to watch out, in other words, for such things as mushroom clouds, aerosol cans, AIDS virus, and the penis rampant.
The very logo of the SRC–progressing as it has from map of the South, to map of region within the Nation, to region upon the globe–reflecta our emancipation from the old provincialism. While there will always be a role for old-fashioned regionalism, the only regionalism which holds forth the hope of salvation nowadays is that which looks upon Earth as a region of the solar system.
The very concept of progress, as applied to the Southern scene, has itself been subject to change. During the first half of this century we were quite confident that one gain led to another, and that the path of the species led onward and upward. If we look to Starnes on the cutting edge once again, in 1947 he was going around saying, “Things really are getting better. They used to kill you for trying to organize a union. Now they just knock all your teeth out.” Starnes is still around, but I do not know what he would say today, when anti-union propaganda has reached such a state-of-the-art as to almost make unionists hate themselves.
By mid-century I had already become sufficiently’ alarmed to conclude my remarks with the caution, “Great
progress is being made; but reaction is making great progress too.” Within a few years, the terror known as McCarthyism had demolished much that was decent and caring about America (in much the same fashion that government’ industry, agriculture, transport, environment, and solvency are being wrecked now). In one of those Question Answer periods a little old lady who had given her entire life causes to help make a better world asked me tearfully, “Was it all in vain!”
I did not know the answer then, nor do I now. It all depends–
HOW NOW TO PROTEST?
Someone, after reflecting upon mankind’s unending struggle to create that better world, concluded somewhat cynically “The forms of exploitation change from time to time.” That being true enough so far, it would seem to behoove us to consider whether forms of protest and struggle should also change accordingly. How best can we defend, consolidate, and advance–during what remains of this century–the gains which have been made?
Many of the traditional forms will never become outmoded–we need all the petitioning, lobbying, voting, organizing, sitting-in, meeting, marching, and confrontation we can get. One thing we do not need more of, however, are the liquor-and-TV riots which erupted during the “long hot summers” of several years ago. While I for one am capable of looking upon these as a form (albeit inappropriate) of reparations for the nest eggs blacks never inherited because our ancestors robbed their ancestors of the fruits of their labors, going after TVs and Jack Daniels is no way to go after civil rights. I happened to be in Budapest during the Hungarian revolt of ’56, and while all shop windows were smashed, nothing was touched. “A testament to the purity of our revolution,” a Hungarian said to me.
As for the “burn, baby, burn” approach some blacks resorted to when Mainstream America turned a deaf ear to the demand that doors be opened, it was an effective attention-getter (like hitting the mule over the head with a 2 x 4), and even had its roots in folksay, “Throw your trunk out the window, and let the whole damn row bum down!” Whether the scene be Watts, Miami, Philippines, S. Korea, Haiti, or some place else, the gasoline cocktail has been one of the few weapons within reach for the assertion of People Power. Burning down one’s own neighborhood, however, can hardly be described as a well-directed form of protest. It is too much like the foreclosed mid-western farmers who blew out their own brains, as if they were somehow at fault.
I do have a couple of suggestions on tactics for the future, one of which I would call “Non-Stop Protest.” Discrimination has a way of being non-stop, of going on forever unless someone puts a stop to it. In the sixties it was so gross and omnipresent you could strike out in almost any direction and land a telling blow. Nowadays it is more insidious, and needs to be ferreted out and targeted.
Once an offending public or private enterprise has been identified, the offended community would serve notice for it to cease and desist, or face non-stop picketing until it did so. Ephemeral pickets are one thing, but picketing “in perpetuity if need be” by community organizations on a rotating basis would be a prospect few establishments would care to face.
The other suggestion is that we make massive use of protest posters. Throughout Europe the poster is not only a potent weapon but a recognized art-form. We have the artists, ideas, and plenty of walls which could use some decoration and dedication.
American labor would also do well to look to its defenses and consider new forms of struggle. Actually, labor is in need of an awakening not unlike that brought on among blacks by the Montgomery bus boycott and Winston-Salem sit-in. There is no way that labor can “overcome” until it comes up with a mind, programme, platform, and media of its own, capable of contending successfully against the phalanx of industry-subsidized institutions arrayed against it. So long as American labor continues to swallow the cyanide-laced Kool-Aid that its interests and employer interests are one and the same, its doom is sealed. Knowledge of which side one’s bread is buttered on is essential to the survival of any group, labor included.
What’s more, labor must make common cause with women, minorities, and other short-changed groups, and not let its well-known patriotism get it suckered in by any jingoist who comes out of the wings. Any time you find labor and management backing the same candidates, you can bet your boots that somebody is being suckered–and that it isn’t management.
Beyond all this, the globalization of industry and the labor market is posing–in the form of wage rollbacks and plant closings–a threat to American labor of the same magnitude as the Klan terror which negated black rights after the Civil War. The unions may be able to follow
industry from Ruse Belt to Sun Belt, but the bottom line question is: How can even a Japanese-run plant in the South compete with its own Made-in-Japan models, except by paying U.S. workers Japanese wages?
Anyone who has lived in as many has-been world powers as I have would hate to see it happen to us, for the economic and psychic consequences are traumatic indeed. Toynbee (of whom let it be said that no man ever amassed so many facts or drew so many erroneous conclusions from them) said with reason that the fate of nations is decided by their response to challenge. Are we a flash-in-the-pan nation, or aren’t we? How can labor participation help American management, design, and engineering compete? Must the world’s industrial wages be brought up or our’s go down–
or is there some other answer to this dilemma?
TOWARDS THE THIRD RECONSTRUCTION
While I may or may not have been the first to raise the standard of a Second Reconstruction to carry out the unfinished business of the First, I do not want to miss this opportunity to call for yet a Third.
That the South does indeed stand in need of further reconstruction is self-evident. The agenda is replete with items of both Old Business and New.
To arrive at specifics we need only look back to what we were, around at what we are, and ahead to what we would like to be (as compared to where we seem to be going).
Where once our region was beset by a complex of problems somewhat peculiar to it, today we are caught up, along with every other region on the planet, in an on-going freeway pile-up of problems which make the Flood, Plague, World Wars, and Great Depression seem like Sunday School picnics. While some of these problems are amenable to regional amelioration, many are not. It took virtually the entire human race, actively or passively, to get us into the messes we are in, and it will take no fewer to get us out.
Even so, the day of Operation Bootstrap is not done. States and regions can still take it upon themselves to clean up their own acts, and hope and prod that others may do likewise. It is high time something more constructive was being done in the name of state’s rights and regional cooperation than secession, Dixiecrat bolts, and the abortive attempt of the erstwhile-Confederate states to avoid the integration of higher education by setting up a jointly funded regional college in Atlanta to which each state could ship its blacks. Time now for regional action on such matters as dumping, acid rain, offshore drilling, pesticides, and unplanned development.
To whom should we look for salvation? While there is much talk of God and Country, Mammon is on the throne, devouring all things, including the elements. Is our only hope perhaps to make remedial measures more profitable than the on-going destruction?
In a simpler age, we fancied that all we had to do was join a good union, register, and vote. Now it is plain to see that nothing less than a network of Debriefing Centers can keep us from voting against ourselves. We used to take pride in our ability to see through bunco-artists, but after being twice hooked on Reaganism, what can we say?
There are some who are saying, “Thank goodness, we’ve put all that racism behind us!” But don’t you believe it. It would be nice if it were all over and done with, and we could sit back and enjoy the Promised Land of Equal Opportunity and Justice. But we are not there yet. In a great many essential respects, we are very far from it. There is such a thing as desegregated racism, and we’ve got it.
We may no longer be Jim Crowed, but we are just as black ghettoed as ever.
Instead of just a token black here and there, we have a whole token black middle class, but the black masses remain as impoverished, jobless, and hopeless as before.
There is one item of unfinished business that we may as well forget–the forty acres and a mule promised all Freedmen during the First Reconstruction. We can charge that one off to Profit Loss, since it now takes upwards of 1,000 acres to make a go of it in agribiz, and we stopped making mules. Even if we were to start them up again, there wouldn’t be anybody around who knew “Gee” from “Haw.”
Cottonpicker came, and blacks went; but here come the robots, who can’t tell a blue collar from a black skin, and won’t do nothing for you anyway unless you can talk to them in Japanese.
Nobody dares call anybody “n—-r” anymore, but injury without insult is injury right on.
We may have the vote, but where can we find a people’s candidate who can afford to run?
Lynching has gone into limbo, but look who’s on Death Row.
Sure, we stopped putting the blowtorch to Bootjack McDaniel, but any time the bugle sounds we join forces with the Yanks to firebomb thatched villages, with the best intentions in the world.
No more chaingangs, just concentration camps for black males.
No more sweatbox, just a rapacious cellmate with AIDS.
Ole Strom Thurmond and the latter-day Dixiecrats all gone over to the GOP–an outfit which folks say isn’t exactly anti-black, it just doesn’t care about people.
Nowadays you hardly ever see the attorney general of Mississippi up before the Supreme Court, arguing against things like school busing and affirmative action; mostly it’s the U.S. Attorney General.
Same old Klan out in the woods rehearsing for a black holocaust, but decked out now in battle fatigues and armed
with automatic weapons.
Time was (1940) when the per capita income of Southerners was $309. That presented problems of sorts, but nothing like the $2,370,000,000,000 national debt that somebody has run up on our credit card. This is not conservatism, nor even reaction; it is anarchy and drunken-sailorism. (Reminds me of the refrain of a poem penned by a tippling classmate of mine: “There’ll be muckle moaning at the bar, when my turn comes to pay.”)
One remarkable thing about our plight is that we seem to be blissfully unaware of it, like the patient who having been prepped for surgery goes to the table in such a state of euphoria he doesn’t care whether he lives or dies. In our case, we have been administered tranquilizers and painkillers in the form of lowered taxes and increased plastic spending power–a sort of nothing down, cash rebate, pay later proposition which few seem able to refuse.
Where all the talk used to be of Black Belt and Bible Belt, now all we hear is Rust Belt and Sun Belt. The big idea seems to be to persuade industry to forsake the Rust Belt altogether and get a fresh start in the Sun Belt. Still baiting our hook with those old-reliables–free land, tax exemption, and non-union labor. (What we fail to realize is that it was organized labor, and nobody else but, who made the American standard of living what it is today.)
Strike-breaking and union-busting “ain’t what it used to be,” since the command post was moved from the Pinkerton Agency to the White House.
Mean old slave trade a thing of the past; nowadays we just leave ’em and work ’em wherever they’re at. All it takes is a few dime-a-dozen whipping bosses to keep them from getting any notions about free speech, solidarity, elections, and stuff like that.
No need to worry so much now about a Southern wage differential, as a S. Korean.
Stopped bringing in coolie labor a long time ago; doors still open to wetbacks and islanders, but American industry is solving that problem for us by pulling up stakes and moving offshore and across the border.
Offshore industry is not all we’ve got. We used to say that America would never be in any danger of takeover by a military junta, but now we have seen how offshore government has been formulating foreign policy and waging wars in our name and at our expense, but outside of our laws and Constitution.
An unlamented loss is the Southern demagogue, whose distinctive flavor was exceeded only by his deviltry. In place of Ole Gene and The Man in the Senate cafeteria demonstrating the respective merits of crumblin’ or dunkin’ cornbread into pot-likker, we have such mainstream models as a Marine colonel playing Rambo and a Dude Rancher cast as President.
Dies, Rankin and McCarthy all gone to their graves, but who needs thought-control when all you have to do is scatter a few cliches and flags around, and people will vote “Right” every time.
Problem used to be: unfree people who wanted to be free; problem now is, unfree people who think they are free.
Thought we had a Magic Bullet to stop VD, but now you need a wetsuit to go out on a spree.
Long before anybody else had heard of drugs, some residents of the black ghetto were sitting around “on the nod” from cocaine. Now all the world seems to be on the nod from one thing or another. Can it be because we are fast turning the world into one big ghetto, with all that that entails in emptiness and despair?
Anybody remember the good ole days when we had the likes of ITT for absentee owner, instead of the Sheik of Bahrein?
Sho nuff, Ole Massa and Mr. Charlie done both gone with the wind, but here come Mr. Takahiro!
Our agenda could go on and on, but you see what I mean when I say that ye olde problem-of-the-South has not only been transmogrified but transcended. We may have been Problem No. 1, but we don’t need any final solutions. Like the man said, all the world’s a stage, and if the thing catches fire there will be no way to save the South Wing.
Talk about Lost Causes–if Life and Earth make the list, the UDC and SRC alike can hang it up. Old South and New; North, East and West; white, black, brown, and yellow; rich and poor; free and unfree; sinners and saints–we’re all in the whale’s belly together, and the whale is headed for the beach.
Somebody do something, quick!
Stetson Kennedy, a Florida native, played a prominent role in the pioneer civil rights movement of the thirties and forties. Taking it upon himself to infiltrate the KKK and a score of other racist/terrorist bands, his books Southern Exposure, I Rode With the KKK, and Jim Crow Guide were the first by a white Southerner to raise the standard of “total equality.” They not only helped “soften up the South for righteousness,” but, translated into a score of foreign languages, served to give Uncle Sam a global hotfoot to “do something.” At 71, Kennedy lives near Jacksonville, Fla., where he is putting together a selection of his writings under the title, “Land Be Bright,” and an autobiography, “Dissident-at-Large.”