Sunday, July 12, 2015

The Dream World of the Southern Republicans


UNLIKE previous Alabama governors, Robert J. Bentley is not a fount of oratory. Nor is he a champion of “kinder and gentler.” His dyspeptic refusal to accept federal funds for Medicaid expansion, in a state where more than one million of 4.8 million residents depend on the program, betokens a stunning indifference to the Hippocratic oath. (The governor is a dermatologist.) Yet Mr. Bentley recently took a page from the Obama playbook and used a surprise executive order to remove four Confederate flags from the Alabama Capitol grounds, not far from the very spot where Jefferson Davis was sworn in as president of the Confederacy.

On the morning of June 24, Mr. Bentley had the flags, and the poles they flew on, removed before either the public or the state’s famously retrograde legislators had time to protest. George C. Wallace — who placed the flag on the Capitol dome in 1963 as a sign of contempt for a visiting integrationist, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy — himself never did a better job of bumfuzzling the lawmakers. In South Carolina, where nine congregants were murdered at a historic black church in Charleston, the flag didn’t come down until Friday, following action by its Legislature.

It was not the first time Mr. Bentley, a two-term ultraconservative with a broad base among Sheetrock hangers and country-club grandees, has bowed to the zeitgeist. He has done so while assuring his white supporters that not much will change in Alabama except the industrial boom represented by Mercedes, Hyundai and Airbus factories and, it was announced last month, a $600 million Google data center near Huntsville. In 2011, for example, Governor Bentley spoke magnanimously at the funeral of Birmingham’s civil-rights lion, the Rev. Fred L. Shuttlesworth. In 2013, he denounced the University of Alabama’s snootiest sororities for rejecting black rushees.

(More here.)


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home