And this bird you'll never chaaaaiiiinnnnnn!

What can one say about Alabama? LI spent his molting years in an Atlanta suburb, learning to appreciate poetry, masturbation, and a correctly set up tennis serve – the usual adolescence. The old man worked, for a while, as a consultant on big HVAC jobs throughout the Southeast, so he was often posted to Birmingham. I have a vague memory of going with him to the town, which, back then, was a ironman’s heaven, a coaldust place, with a big statue of Vulcan on one of the many city hills. It was Orc city back then.

Georgians consider ourselves at least semi-civilized, and sniff a great deal at the whole idea of Bama. That’s where the wild west really begins – sullen cotton farmers settling sinister black rivers. Of course, that isn’t true – Alabama isn’t the analphabetic, rickets plagued place of my childhood mythology. For instance, there’s Tuskegee University, which was a steady light in the Dixie darkness for decades. Mencken wasn’t kidding when he claimed that the South of his time – 1917 – was the Sahara of the Bozart:

“Nearly the whole of Europe could be lost in that stupendous region of fat farms, shoddy cities and paralyzed cerebrums: one could throw in France, Germany and Italy, and still have room for the British Isles. And yet, for all its size and all its wealth and all the “progress” it babbles of, it is almost as sterile, artistically, intellectually, culturally, as the Sahara Desert. There are single acres in Europe that house more first-rate men than all the states south of the Potomac.”

Mencken goes on to fling the kitchen sink at Dixie, and then the chairs, the curtains, the lamps, and anything else that he can get his hands on. And he was still short of the astonishing thing about the South, which is not that there are a lot of ignorant people there, but that no place on earth is one’s ignorance more aggressively adored – there is, in Southern tradition, a love for stupidity for its own sake that can only truly be appreciated by those who’ve lived down among the peckerwoods and swapped fleas with em. And if there is one state in which that love is condensed and made into an essence, it is Alabama. There’s a reason George Wallace came from Alabama. There’s a reason Lynyrd Skinner wrote that the “Governor was true.”

Which is why Alabama has turned out to be, much to my surprise, a precursor state in the Bush era. The stupidity-lite of the Bushies, their promotion of ignorance for ignorance sake, has very southern roots. Even Alabama roots. Stealing the election of 2000 in Florida did not begin with Election 2000 in Florida – it began with the Dixie wide attempt, through the nineties, to disenfranchise black males through mass jailing and the use of punitive laws that keep ex felons from voting. It is an old Dixie trick. Alabama, of course, led the way.

However, as we know in these good old states, an astonishing, public crime committed on the black population will rouse not a whimper of protest from the liberal media,. They are, after all, busy encouraging free trade and such. What has happened in Alabama lately even beats the old records – namely, the railroading of the one popular Democratic figure in the state, Don Siegelman, by Karl Rove, a man with deep, greasy roots in Alabama.

Harper’s blogger Scott Horton has tracked this primitive process, which bears comparison with the way Central Asian former Soviet Republics deal with the opposition, with astonishment. And little encouragement from the mainstream media. Finally, though, 60 minutes ran a segment about it. And – it was censored in Alabama! The tv stations in the Peckerwood Kazakhistan are apparently controlled by the usual bevy of corporate criminals, aka friends of the Bushes, and they just suffered an inexplicable outage when the 60 minutes film was a-rollin’. Fancy that!

I’ve wondered when Horton’s reporting was going to get some traction. I’m hoping the time has come. We’ll see.


roger said…
Or is it - chaaange? I always get that art of the song mixed up.
northanger said…
Parts of "60 Minutes" Broadcast Blocked in Alabama

i'm still reading up on this, but... wow.