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October 09, 1967 - Image 16

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1967-10-09
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and, from the South:



Apologist for Jim Crow
The smooth cool of George Wallace, the
fluidity of his personality, his easy way of
throwing out what sounds like a legitimate
idea, all are the camouflages of just a
'good ole country boy' from deep Dixie

"Now off the recard," said George
Wallace's legal advisor Hugh Mad-
dox "I think that Senator Edward
Brooke (R.-Mass.) is a lot better
than some of those other Northern
senators. But I'd rather you didn't
quote me on that."
I had been sitting in Governor
Lurleen Wallace's posh office in the
State Capitol building here (where
the Confederate and Alabama flags
grace the dome and the American
flag flies in the backyard) when
cherubic press secretary Ed Ewing
brought in Maddox to minimize po-
litely thefact that I had been wait-
ing to see Wallace for over an hour.
The Governor's office is one of
those rare combinations of function
and glitter. In the center of the,
room there is an immense chande-
lier. But cleverly obscured in the
ceiling over the governor's desk is
a fluorescent light bank. Pink orch-
ids grace the room and the book
shelves are crammed with picture
books, an Atlas, and Raymond Mo-
ley's "The American Legion Story."
On Governor Wallace's desks are
telegrams from Billy J. Hargis (head
of the conservative Christian cru-
side) and Governor James Rhodes
of Ohio.
I was winding up a five week vis-
it to Alabama when I decided that
my trip was incomplete without a
visit to the state's star attraction,
George Wallace. Press Secretary
Ewing obligingly scheduled me in
for a hot Monday afternoon in early
June. And when I arrived I discov-
ered that Northern visitors are more
than welcome. Wallace's pragmatic
staff is anxious to ferret out intel-
Ewing began my visit by cross-ex-
amining me on the- Detroit situa-
tion: "Didn't all the grocers have to
band together and get guns so they
could break themselves from rob-
bers up there? And don't the cab
drivers have wire cages to guard
against theft? That would be a good
issue to use up there wouldn't it?"
Then I was ushered into Mrs. Wal-
lace's xoffice (she was off speech-
making that day) which is one of
four that Wallace darts between
when he has a lot of visitors. Once
he burst into the room only to head
straight for the bathroom. When he


emerged he strode out of the room
apologizing "Sorry to make you
wait but that's part of the game."
Maddox made his exit, Wallace
reappeared and fell back into the
Governor's chair. The 5 ft. 7 in.,
155 pound former Golden Gloves
champion of Alabama in 1936-37 is
an edgy man who comes across in
private like he does in public. The
only new discoveries are that he is
hard of hearing (due to an almost
fatal bout with spinal meningitis in
1942) and that he likes to spit in
the wastebasket. between mono-
Wallace frequently cups his hand
to his left ear to pick up a question.
His answers are instantaneous. And
during the next year the country
will hear all the George Wallace
they want.
That's because Wallace says he is
running for President on an inde-
pendent "Stand Up For America"
ticket. Barring a sudden change in
thinking he says that he will an-
nounce his candidacy "in December
or possibly January." More impor-
tantly Wallace says "We will win the
Here's the way Wallace's mathe-
matics works: "With three parties
running I only need 34 per cent of
the vote to win. I'm sure I could take
enough votes to win." As evidence
he points out' that he pulled in 45
per cent of the vote in the Mary-
land primary and in Iridiana he took
31 per cent of the Democratic vote.
"And I only made a few speeches in
each place."
Moreover Wallace is exuberant
about the potential peace candidacy
of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.,
who used to be pastor of the Dex-
ter Ave. Baptist Church which sits
across the street from the capitol
building. "I hope he runs, I hope
we have six candidates. That'll split
up more of the votes and better my
The "Wallace Campaign' at the 10
High Building a few blocks away
from the capitol is mapping strate-

gy. It can't handle all of Wallace's
speaking invitations. Moreover Wal-
lace talks excitedly about his fan
mail from Cleveland cab drivers,
Gary steelworkers, and Cadillac,
Mich., businessmen."
In Montgomery, Wallace is king.
"Wallace for President" signs are
everywhere and motel marquees
proudly boast "This is Wallace
Country." (The slogan serves a dual
function. It is a not too subtle means
of discouraging Negro clientele.)
Although the political pundits
smirk at talk of a Wallace victory
(he's currently cast as a spoiler)
the raven haired Governor is con-
fident. "The average man on the
street is getting tired of some guy
on a college campus or in a news-
paper office (the Alabama press is
not terribly sympathetic to Wallace
and that includes the Montgomery
papers) telling him what to do. They
tell him he isn't smart enough to
determine what is best. He's not go-
ing to sit around and take that any-
more. The man who fights life every
day can discern things the pipe-
smoking intellectual can't."
For example Wallace says "We
knew Fidel Castro was a Communist
before the intellectuals knew. We
could tell just by looking at him, and
his beard. I was talking to- those
cops who guarded me at Princeton
(this spring) and they told me they
could tell Castro was a Communist
too. It was just instinct."
As for the rest of the Wallace plat-
form he thinks the police should get
tougher with criminals ("not be
hamstrung by the Supreme Court"),
that we should get tougher in Viet-
nam by hitting Hanoi and Haiphong
harder, and jail all draft card burn-
ers and other left-wing students and
professors who don't back the war
Wallace is so confident about his
chances that he's even willing to
get specific about his tenure in the
White House: "I don't think that
J would keep Rusk and McNamara
although I guess they probably

wouldn't want to stay under me." He.
says that as commander in chief of
the armed forces he would "lean
heavily on the joint chiefs of staff
for military policy."
Wallace is frank to admit that
he hasn't given much consideration
to how he'll handle a number of
issues when he becomes President.
For example he "doesn't know what"
he'll do on the 27 per cent oil deple-
tion allowance. He wants to grad-
ually reduce taxes and cut back
foreign aid but he isn't exactly sure
how hell do it.
While Wallace is confident he can
win, some of the men who know him
best figure he doesn't have a chance.
Richmond Flowers, Wallace's former
Attorney General who was soundly
trounced by Mrs. Wallace in the 1966
gubernatorial election says of the
prospect of Wallace becoming Presi-
dent: "God would never visit a sin
like that on the country."
Flowers has his law offices up
five floors from the Wallace Cam-
paign in the 10 High Building.
"George should know from Gold-
water's eperience that there's not
enough votes to, get him in."
Of course Wallace is willing to
discuss the possibility that he may
be defeated. -If he loses then he
plans to go back to "a private law
practice." He has "no intention of
running for Governor again. By
1970 my wife and I will have had
eight years in office and we will
have started most of the programs
we wanted to get going"
But as he chomps away like Ed-
ward G. Robinson on a big cigar
you find it hard to believe such talk.
Like Richard Nixon, 48-year-old
Wallace is addicted to politics, and
dreams of glory.
While Wallace has many defects,
stupidity is not one of them. He has
become the segregationist spearhead
because he plays the game best. He
knows that the best way to defend
the obscenities of the Southern way
of life is to point up north.
If you ask him about Mrs. Viola
Liuzzo, the Detroit housewife who
was gunned down during the 1965
Selma march his answer is, "Did
you know she wasn't even on the
voting roles in Detroit."
If you inquire about segregated

The Governor of Alabama's desk and husbt

schools he says, "None of our schools
have to have any policemen inside
like they do in Detroit."
Wallace naturally has "never ad-
vocated violence." He deplores the
brutal civil-rights killings. And he
would have you believe that he is
doing his best to preserve law and
order in the South.
Nothing could be farther from the
truth. The reason why Wallace is
champ in Alabama is that he knows
how to intellectualize the sound of
the Klan.
When he gets up and proclaims
that "we don't want any outside
agitators telling us how to run our
lives," when. he declares that "the
federal government should stop in-
terfering here," when he says that
'we take care of our Negroes and
they love us" there isn't a function-
ally illiterate redneck in the state
who doesn't know what he means.
What Wallace is really doing is
preserving the right of the white

Southerner to harass the Negro into
submission. For years Wallace had
been denouncing moderate Federal
Judge Frank M. Johnson Jr. as an
"integrating carpet-bagging, scala-
wagging, race-mixing, bald-faced
Judge Johnson's crime had been
a consistent series of decisions rec-
ognizing Negro civil rights. Taking
their cue from Wallace, rednecks
bombed the Montgomery home of
Judge Johnson's 69-year-old mother
in May.
Governor Wallace and his wife
were quick to denounce the bomb-
ing and to offer a reward for cap-
ture of the culprit. But who can
doubt that it was Wallace's tough
talk that helped prompt the bomb-
When the hour-long Wallace show
is over the Governor politely ushers
you out into the waiting room where
half a dozen of his aides are joking
and reading magazines. In a big

booming voice he tells his men "I'd
like you to meet a visitor from the
University of Michigan."
And en masse the men jumped up.
My first reaction was to duck. For
here are his 220-pound bodyguards,
his redneck lieutenants and under-
lings who have that roughhewn
country look. Several of them ob-
viously weren't lucky enough to have
orthodontia. And somehow they all
seem like they would fit right in to
a Klan rally.
As I shook hands with them one
by one I began to understand what
a Montgomery friend had told me
earlier, 'It's not Wallace that scares
me so much. It's his henchmen."
Wallace hadn't bothered me much,
either. He was well dressed, articu-
late, and relatively easy to take.
Even when he said something dis-
agreeable he had a way of making
it palatable. And I kind of half-
admired him for his political finess.
But as I talked to his aides I be-

came jum]
George Wa
At heart he
these bigot
real differ
managed t
Wallace c
his racist p
tellectual s
But for
a shield foi
tier-the d
ceeded in h
has manag
life the a
country bo
on exploita
the Negro.
As I was
Governor c
ingly, "Nov
this story s
you out wh

ROGER RAPOPORT, editor of The Daily, was in the South
this summer working for The Southern Courier. A journal-
ism major, he has worked for The Wall Street Journal and
has had articles published in numerous periodicals.


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