Birmingham Alabama

Old Urban-Rural Battle Among States Now Battles Between Cities And Rural Areas Within The States!

The story of much of American history is the struggle and battles between the growing urbanization in America, and the desire of small town, rural America to keep “traditional values”.

So the South, heavily rural historically, has always held back against reform and change, and switched from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party in the half century since the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 under President Lyndon B. Johnson.

But now, in 2016, we are seeing a revolt, an uprising of growing urban areas and university towns in the South against “traditional values”!

So we see urban areas in many Southern states promoting becoming “sanctuary cities” for illegal immigrants; supporting gay and transgender rights; calling for minimum wage laws to be reinforced and to promote raises; and working to undermine the Confederate flag as an appropriate symbol in 21st century America!

These growing urban areas include such locations as Raleigh-Durham, Charlotte and Greensboro, North Carolina; Charleston, South Carolina; Atlanta, Athens and Savannah, Georgia; Gainesville and Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Jackson, Hattiesburg, and Oxford, Mississippi; Birmingham, Alabama; New Orleans, Louisiana; Little Rock and Fayetteville, Arkansas; Nashville and Knoxville, Tennessee; San Antonio, Dallas and Houston, Texas; and Louisville, Kentucky. The Democratic Party is growing in these areas, and African Americans and Latinos are a good percentage of that growth, and university towns are also part of the massive changes that are occurring toward progressive change.

But the rural dominated Republican legislatures are passing state pre-emption laws that deny these localities the ability to set up their own regulations and laws. Ironically, it means these Republican states are fighting to take away local controls, while fighting on the national level against centralized authority of the federal government!

America’s Fascist Demagogues In History: Huey P. Long, Joseph McCarthy, George C. Wallace, Patrick Buchanan!

The United States has had its Fascist demagogues in the past nearly hundred years of our history, but luckily, they “burned out” very quickly.

We had Democratic Governor and Senator Huey P. Long, who condemned the New Deal of Franklin D. Roosevelt in the early 1930s era of the Great Depression.  He had a big following on radio; drew large public crowds; preached “Every Man A King” and “Share The Wealth” as he attacked Wall Street; had his own group of “storm troopers” to protect him;  and made clear that he hoped to come to power on a national level, having alienated his Senate colleagues and the President by his tactics and showmanship.

His potential threat disappeared, however, when he was assassinated in the Louisiana State Capitol in Baton Rouge in September 1935, a mystery that still exists today, as covered in Chapter 7 of my book, ASSASSINATIONS, THREATS, AND THE AMERICAN PRESIDENCY: FROM ANDREW JACKSON TO BARACK OBAMA (Rowman Littlefield Publishers, August 2015).  He reminded many of Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler, both of whom had not yet become as aggressive and warlike as they would become in the mid to late 1930s and early 1940s.

Then we had evil personified in Wisconsin Republican Senator Joseph R. McCarthy of Wisconsin, who stirred fear and insecurity in America in the early 1950s, when he accused Presidents Harry Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower and many government and other public figures of being Communists, or “soft on Communism”.

He ruined thousands of people’s lives, caused their deaths or complete destruction of their lives, but it was all a ploy backed by right wing conservatives, who continue to honor him, even after his political downfall in December 1954 when the US Senate condemned him, and his early death of alcoholism in May 1957.  This despicable man was a true Fascist demagogue with too many people ready to back him, but his cockiness and arrogance and false charges finally brought him down.

Then we had Democratic Governor George C. Wallace of Alabama, who sowed racism in America as he stood in the door of the University of Alabama in 1963 to attempt to block integration of the state university, and allowed police brutality in Birmingham and elsewhere, leading to the bombing of a black church and the death of young girls in the explosion.

A true Fascist demagogue of the worst kind, he actually gained five states and 46 electoral votes as a third party candidate for President in 1968.  Then, while running in 1972 again, he was shot and paralyzed for life by an assassin, a tragic event for sure, but brought on by his notoriety and demagogic nature.  Wallace’s story is well covered in Chapter 11 of my new book mentioned above.

And then we had Patrick Buchanan, an aide to President Richard Nixon and President Ronald Reagan, who promoted nativism and racism and antisemitism, including Holocaust denial,   as he campaigned against President George H. W. Bush in the 1992 primaries; against Bob Dole in the 1996 primaries;  and then ran as a third party candidate of the Reform Party in 2000.

Due to confusion in Palm Beach County, Florida, Buchanan gained 4,000 votes that were intended by voters for Al Gore, but mistakenly, these elderly, mostly Jewish voters punched the wrong hole on the “butterfly” ballots, and by doing so, caused the election of George W. Bush statewide, officially by a total of 537 votes, sadly denying Al Gore the Presidency, despite his national popular vote lead of 540,000!

Buchanan clearly was and is a Fascist demagogue, who, however, has become someone ignored, and no longer has a major media presence in his later years, as he once did on cable television as a political commentator on MSNBC and CNN, although he still is on Fox News Channel and PBS.

And now we have, at the least, two Fascist demagogues, now considered the front runners in the Republican race for President—Donald Trump and Texas Senator Ted Cruz!  Again, the fight against right wing Fascism and its elements–racism, nativism, misogyny, antisemitism—remain a battle decent people must fight with every ounce of their energy!

50th Anniversary Commemoration Of Birmingham Baptist Church Bombing: A Time For Reflection

50 years ago today, in the most segregated city in America, led by the most divisive Governor in America at the time, hate and racism combined to lead to a horrific bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama.

Governor George Wallace had already become the symbol of the worst in America, having stood in the door of the Registrar’s Office at the University of Alabama, trying to prevent two black college students from attending the state university based upon their race, but with President John F. Kennedy sending in the National Guard to insure their entrance and security.

Four young black girls were killed in the bombing, an incomprehensible event committed by the Ku Klux Klan, against a house of worship.

This event galvanized the civil rights movement, although it took decades to prosecute and convict the perpetrators of this slaughter.

C Span today is spending much of the day on American History TV commemorating this tragedy, and reflecting on how far we have come in fifty years, and how far we have progressed. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was a direct result of this tragedy, helped along by the brilliance of President Lyndon B. Johnson, who overcame the Senate filibuster to accomplish what seemed like impossible odds to overcome opposition.

Congress awarded Congressional Gold Medals in honor of the four girls, in a recent ceremony, and bronze replicas are available for purchase through the US Mint, a great suggestion for a wonderful gift to remind the younger generation of the sacrifices of those involved in the civil rights movement.