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If you opened your New York Times on this day in 1963, you read that Alabama governor George C. Wallace “stepped aside today when confronted by federalized National Guard troops and permitted two Negroes to enroll in the University of Alabama. There was no violence.”1 And on this day, the two students to whom Wallace so objected, Vivian J. Malone and James A. Hood, attended class. “They strolled across the main quadrangle, talking and occasionally laughing. Three Federal marshals followed unobtrusively in an unmarked car.”2

It sounded very much like the end of something, but of course it was very much the beginning. The next year, Barry Goldwater—who voted against the 1964 Civil Rights Act, who said that a “Supreme Court decision is not necessarily the law of the land,” and who thought politics needed to take into account “the essential differences between men,” carried Alabama, along with Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, and South Carolina. For a Republican to carry this Deep South bloc was a post-Reconstruction novelty. And he did it in part because Wallace voters switched to him; Wallace had run as a Democrat in the primaries and considered a run as [fixed thanks to Ben Alpers] an independent candidate but withdrew in the summer, instantly spawning “Democrats for Goldwater” in much of the South. “Obviously we are thrilled that Governor Wallace is withdrawing,” the Alabama Republican party chairman said. “He … has practically the same views on everything that our presidential candidate has.”

In 1968, Wallace would carry Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia, in addition to Arkansas, on much the same platform—promoting segregation in the guise of protecting property rights, and opposing civil rights in favor of law and order.

If you asked Wallace voters in 1968 who their second choice was, they generally said Nixon. “Democrats voting for Wallace were repudiating the standard national ticket, as many as a third of them for the second time in a row. If Wallace had not run, we can have little confidence that they would have faithfully supported Humphrey and Muskie…. the majority of his votes were from Democrats who otherwise preferred Nixon rather than from Republicans who might have given their favors to Humphrey.”3

For all these reasons, historians often view Wallace as playing an important role in the rise of the Southern GOP. Many white Southern Democrats, fed up with the civil rights policies of Humphrey, Kennedy, and Johnson, defected when they could: first to Wallace and then to Goldwater in 1964, then to Wallace in 1968, and finally, sometime in the 1970s, becoming Republicans.

Recently there have been some studies that muddy this picture. I’ll have more to say about that in a while.


1“Governor Leaves,” NYT 6/12/1963, p. 1.
2“Alabama Campus Retains Its Calm,” NYT 6/13/1963, p. 14.
3Philip E. Converse, Warren E. Miller, Jerrold G. Rusk and Arthur C. Wolfe, “Continuity and Change in American Politics: Parties and Issues in the 1968 Election,” American Political Science Review 63, no. 4 (December 1969): 1083-1105, p. 1091.

(Previous installments of this silliness include Disadventure, Disaddendum, Dismoralized, & Disinsomnia.)

Copyright (c) 1980, 1982, 1983, 2006 Sekocom, Inc. All rights reserved.
SPYWARE VIRUS! is a registered trademark of Sekocom, Inc.
Revision 23 / Serial number 8940726

In Apartment Complex

> go to library website

Before you is the UCI Library website. To your left are the crumbling remains of an ancient civilization.

> really?

No.

> open newspaper database asshole

Firefox will not open crap links to spoofed addresses.

> is library is safe open newspaper database

Firefox declines invitations to virus orgies on principle. Perhaps a more gullible browser would be more to your liking.

> open internet explorer

You feel more vulnerable already. Before you is the UCI Library website. To your left is the a visual representation of what is about to happen to your computer.

> what?

Nothing.

> open newspaper database

YOU HAVE A SMALL PENIS! WOMEN LAUGH AT IT! VIEW PORNOGRAPHY! STAY HARD FOR HOURS! YOU MIGHT ALREADY BE A WINNER!

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The winner, in this case, is: “Yeah, actually there is an interesting story behind this. I like to fuck dolls. See ya Monday.” — David John

So, have you seen this? Probably. Because, as with so much else of great cultural value, I’m way behind the times. But even I know that the New Yorker, on the last page of the book, now runs a weekly contest to come up with the best caption for an uncaptioned* cartoon. Many people find the contest and its results cloying. I am one of those people. So, too, is Daniel Radosh, proprietor of this site. Each week, he runs his own contest: a challenge to submit “the worst possible caption for this [week’s] New Yorker cartoon.” If you don’t mind off-color humor, you might want to check it out. Oh, and here’s a quick meditation on how to win the actual New Yorker caption contest. If that’s your thing. Of course, as Eric points out, the winning answer should always be, “Christ, what an asshole.”

Also: is Daniel Radosh related to Ron Radosh? I bet everyone knows — except me. Because I’m behind the times.

* A word? No, I doubt it. “Blank” would have been better. Whatever. You people need to back off. Or I’ll cut you.

[Author’s Note: Thanks to “anonymous,” who — with revelations of super-cool jurist Alex Kozinski’s public relations troubles in mind? — sent me a link to Radosh’s site. Keep the tips coming people.]

[Update: Ben Wolfson gently reminds me in the comments that I initially saw the Slate piece linked above while reading a post of his over at Unfogged. I regret having not credited him earlier.]

I’m sure some apologist will find a way to claim it isn’t at all racist when Fox News calls Michelle Obama “Obama’s Baby-Mama.”

Predictions for future Fox slogans to tease stories about Obama.

  • On his suits: “Is the Democratic nominee big pimpin’?”
  • On his campaign schedule: “Is Obama hitting the chitlin circuit?”
  • On his urban policy: “Watts up with our cities?”
  • On his close relationship with Tom Daschle: “A profile of Obama’s political uncle, Tom!”
  • On his monetary policy: “Obama is a Negro! A NEEEE-GRO!”

On this day in 1963, an elderly Buddhist monk named Thich Quang Duc climbed from a car stopped at a busy intersection in Saigon. He sat down and crossed his legs as another monk poured gasoline over him and a third lit him on fire. Quang Duc began praying as flames engulfed his body. As he burned, passersby prostrated themselves before this horrifying spectacle of devotion. Quang Duc’s body finally toppled over, his flesh incinerated, leaving only his heart behind.

Quand Duc chose to immolate himself to protest Ngo Dinh Diem’s — the United States’s handpicked dictator in Vietnam — oppression of the nation’s Buddhist population. A bit more than a month earlier, as Buddhists in Hué readied to celebrate the Buddha’s birthday, a local factotum and Diem loyalist had refused to allow them to gather. Several thousand Buddhists then took to the streets for a peaceful protest. Police fired on the crowd. Nine people were killed in the melee.

Buddhists mounted more protests in the following weeks, demanding that Diem punish the officials responsible for the killings. Arrogant and out of his depth, Diem, a Catholic, vacillated between ignoring their entreaties and blaming the entire controversy on the Vietcong. Buddhists countered Diem’s intransigence with a campaign of demonstrations and propaganda: public rallies, high-profile hunger strikes, and coordinated interviews with foreign journalists. Tri Quang, one of the uprising’s leaders, suggested to American officials that, “The United States must either make Diem reform or get rid of him. If not, the situation will degenerate, and you worthy gentlemen will suffer most. You are responsible for the present trouble because you back Diem and his government of ignoramuses.”

True to form, those ignoramuses ignored pressure from Washington as well. It was against that backdrop that Quang Duc killed himself, generating international outrage. Newspapers worldwide published stories headed by a stark image of the immolation. Buddhists had tipped off an AP photographer, Malcolm Brown, about their plans. At the event itself, they handed out biographical sketches of Quang Duc, revealing that he had been sixty-six years old at the time of his death. His last words were a plea to Diem for compassion and religious toleration.

Instead, the Diem administration replied with scorn and crackdowns. As police raided Buddhist temples, Madame Nhu, Diem’s sister-in-law, referred to Quang Duc’s death as a “barbecue”. Less than six months later, a coup — if not supported by the CIA then certainly tolerated by the Agency — toppled Diem’s government. He and his brother, Ngo Dinh Nhu, were killed. Madame Nhu went into exile.

Seriously, the golf stuff on his website begs to be mocked. I mean, I have nothing against golf (that’s a lie). But isn’t the game linked in people’s minds with rich, old coots? Forget that Tiger Woods fellow. He should get off my private club television (damn Negroes are everywhere these days) lawn. Not to mention, golf despoils the environment. McCain might as well run an “I Heart Palm Springs! And Sprawl, Too!” banner across the top of his website and be done with it. Also, he could accept ads from Centrum Silver and Sunsweet prune juice. Oh wait, we’re not supposed to make fun of McCain’s age. Well, in that case, let me just say that while I would never allow a candidate’s advanced years to keep me from voting for her or him, I’m not sure that America is ready to elect Methuselah. There, is that better?

Anyway, even if fossilized McCain’s not trolling America, America appears to be trolling him (here, here, here, here, here, here, and here). You go, America. Tell the angry sweet old maverick what you think. And remember, you need to yell into his ear trumpet. But not during his backswing. Because that would be rude.

Via the comments at unfogged.

Last weekend, while scurrying around the Tubes looking for historical anniversaries, I noticed that on this day in 1935, “two recovering alcoholics, Bill W. and Dr. Bob S., found[ed] Alcoholics Anonymous in Akron, Ohio, to help each other stay sober.” So I said to myself, “Self, that’s pretty interesting. I’d like to know more about AA. More than I learned from Fight Club, at least, or back in my DJ days, when I spun the wheels of steel at a Narcotics Anonymous dance in 1986.*”

And so, earlier today, I started looking for good sources. I didn’t find much. Most of the histories of AA floating around on the Web are, for what I assume are very good reasons, of the internalist variety and thus lacking in distance from the subject at hand. They’re extraordinarily laudatory; they border on mythology. And they’re often preachy, uncritically asking readers to accept the existence of a higher power. None of that’s too surprising, of course. AA literally saves peoples lives, including, it seems, the people writing these histories. More power to them, I say.

So then I turned to this book, written by my former colleague Sarah Tracy. But it stops before AA starts. That was when I decided that there must be a good history of AA** out there, but I wasn’t going to find it. Or at least I wasn’t going to find it in time to write my usual dazzling take on This Day in History. To make my deadline***, I had to choose another This Day for this day. Pondering my next move, I clicked over to Unfogged, planning to kill some time. I found this post.

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A university near us is celebrating its centennial this year. Someone thought it would be a good idea to ask a historian to write a short piece, principally for alumni, about America’s place in the world at 1908. So here’s a draft of that.

Let’s take for granted (1) it is insufficiently generous to the South; (2) it needs more details on the kinds of ships; (3) it is part of a left-wing echo chamber plot to destroy teh world!!!1!!!!1! (4) it needs more paralepsis and less anaphoresis.

Beyond that, I’d be interested to know what you think.

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… is what I imagine David Carlton writing to Stephen Colbert right now.1

Vodpod videos no longer available.


1If anyone comments that Colbert is not a Yankee, well.

[Editor’s Note: Vance Maverick — range-rider, blue jeans model, American hero — is back to let us know how the NEH works for all of us (suck it, Newt). Thanks for sending this along Vance. And for keeping us safe. And clad in dungarees. We appreciate everything you do. Also: Readers, if you want your name to appear in lights pixels, all you have to do is send good stuff our way. We reserve the right not to post what you send. But we’ll thank you nevertheless. Remember: Ask not what your blog can do for you; ask what you can do for your blog. Stirring!]

The National Endowment for the Humanities has initiated a new program, Picturing America, to promote American art in the classroom. (I learned about it from Margaret Soltan, reporting on a lecture by John Updike at the launch; a version of his text is here.) The heart of the program is a virtual exhibit, distributed to schools as a set of reproductions, and also visible online in a well-designed chronological gallery.

Some caviling aside – the “wall text” for the images isn’t great, and the selections of sculpture and architecture are fragmentary compared to the paintings – the “exhibit” is really impressive: substantial but digestible, “link-rich” without distraction, and consistently strong in selection without sacrifice of breadth. You may not come away knowing what’s American about American art (neither, as Soltan points out, does Updike), but you’re sure to be surprised. A few surprises for me: Whistler’s “Peacock Room”, a cinematic Hopper , a challenging Romare Bearden collage. Check it out.

Some of us don’t have tenure yet. This is completely uncalled for:

In Connecticut Yankee, Twain warns the reader that the United States is already following the lead of the European imperial powers, a message he would repeat with growing volubility in his anti-imperialist writings from 1898 to 1905, most of which require little interpretation. (Literary Culture and U.S. Imperialism, 139, emphasis mine.)

You are an evil liar, John Carlos Rowe. You may have total recall. You may be right charming. I may even respect you mightily. That changes nothing. This is beyond the pale. Don’t believe me? Ask anyone without tenure and brace yourself for a brutal what for. Fact:

Everything requires loads of interpretation. All of it. (Even that.)

Just because you have tenure doesn’t mean you can give up the gig. Some of us still have to slog through six sets a night.

(X-posted to my place because I love my mother and she has problems with links.)

I’m embarrassed to admit I never considered visiting the myth-making factory before my friend Todd offered a guided tour. (Cheap shots on the house!) As often as conservatives bemoan the liberal media’s manipulation of plain fact — there are only so many scare quotes in the world, no need to waste them all in one sentence — you think they’d know better than to house their dishonest edits in an online terrarium. But you know what would be awesome? If the person who kept deleting the passage in which Obama is vindicated was the son of a conservative icon like Phyllis Schlafly.

What!?!

On this day in 1954, Senator Joseph McCarthy played a game of guilt by association. He attacked Joseph Welch, special counsel to the United States Army, suggesting that an associate at Welch’s white-shoe firm, Hale and Dorr, had ties to a Communist organization. McCarthy referred to Fred Fisher, who had, while in school, joined the Lawyers Guild, a group devoted to protecting civil liberties. In this case, though, unlike many other episodes during McCarthy’s reign of terror, somebody powerful pushed back. Welch replied to McCarthy:

Let us not assassinate this lad further, Senator. You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?

Television cameras captured the moment, reducing the jowly, sneering McCarthy in size. By refusing to back down, Welch unmasked McCarthy as a fraud and thug, a bully without any decency at all. The confrontation between the two men turned out to be the apogee of the 50s Red Scare.

Asking a question is not the same thing as giving a speech.

The set of things you find interesting is not necessarily coterminous with the set of things relevant to the topic under discussion.

The longer a meeting continues, the less value any question can add; as a corollary: past a certain point in a meeting the only thing of value anyone can say is, “Move to adjourn.”

If you want people who hold stupid ideas to agree with your nonstupid ideas, there are better ways to start than calling their stupid ideas stupid.

Ari and I are already humming “Hatikvah,” while Eric’s in the corner being racist.* But seriously, when I read that a Ron Paul supporter was cross-posting anti-semitic material to Obama’s social networking site, I reacted as anyone who had just watched him deliver a speech before AIPAC, i.e. l thought things like:

There’s something deeply wrong with a presidential candidate who attracts so many of these hateful psychotics.

Don’t let the fact that Charles Johnson — a man who doesn’t run a site hateful psychotics find attractive — wrote those words fool you.** It may seem like the Obama’s anyone-can-contribute-a-post community embraces antisemitism, socialism, Marxism, and poetry of questionable provenance, but it’s only because it does. Once Obama‘s in power, Ari and I will be whistling the Israeli national anthem from a cushy relocation camp.***


*Did you know the melody of “Hatikvah” is based on a Romanian folk-song called “Carriage with Oxen”? I didn’t. But it’s appropriate. In my ancestral bones, I hear the kvetching: “What you want horse for? To pull carriage? Who are you to want being pulled by horses? What’s good for plow is good for prom.”****

**Ari and Eric invited me to contribute because I troll observe, anthropologically, conservative sites.

***I’ve already requested I be imprisoned vacationed in Happy Camp Canyon.

****I know what you’re thinking: Scott, shouldn’t there be a space between your footnotes? I know. But all the HTML in the world won’t put one there, so there won’t be one.*****

*****Yes, one of the conditions of my posting privileges is, and I quote, “Be it said that each post contain no fewer than five footnotes, one of which must originate within another footnote like the incestuous spawn of a digressive mind.” That said, they’re dangerously addictive.

I wonder: if we give them Arnold Schwarzenegger, do you think they’d give us Jennifer Granholm? As a one-time thing, I mean. Don’t just react; think it over for a minute. Amending the Constitution (see here and here) is really a big pain. And we need more Canadians* in high office. It’s just a thought.

* Relax. This is not the first step in a Canadian fifth-column conspiracy. Because the first step has long since been taken! Mwa-ha-ha-ha-ha!**

** I’ve always wanted to write, “mwa-ha-ha-ha-ha.” It wasn’t nearly as satisfying as I had hoped. Sometimes life is a series of small disappointments.

In his chapter on “The Last Act” of the Pacific War, Max Hastings uses the word “contemptible” twice within four pages, describing the suicides of Japanese commanders.1 Throughout his book he makes absolutely clear that once Japan had clearly lost the war—which was certainly before 1945—the invocation of bushido and the determination to choose death before dishonor is itself not only delusional but morally discreditable.

It differs slightly from the view of Japan in Clint Eastwood’s Letters from Iwo Jima, in which it’s clear that we should find Lieutenant General Tadamichi Kuribayashi and Lieutenant Colonel Takeichi Nishi admirable characters. In Eastwood’s film, neither is at first aware that the defense of Iwo Jima is per se an act of mass suicide in a lost cause; both discover it over the course of the film as they learn the Empire is in a parlous state and has sent them to die without the intent or ability to support or evacuate them. Under the circumstances, they appear to believe they should fight to defend the island as best they can, short of obviously suicidal attacks, and they repeatedly try to thwart the more zealous of their officers who seek to kill themselves and their men in futile assaults. Yet both of them choose suicide for themselves.2

Hastings spends a fair bit of his book teasing out the parallel between the Japanese imposition of suicide on soldiers and American tactics—he at least airs out the idea that many American officers, particularly General Douglas MacArthur and Marine Lieutenant General Holland Smith, were too willing to sacrifice too many men to achieve too little, and that perhaps there is a certain uncomfortable similarity between the Japanese and American willingness to fling soldiers, sailors, and Marines knowingly to their deaths when other alternatives might have saved their lives. (Hastings specifically remarks that it was not necessary to take Iwo Jima as an airbase, though he concedes it was “implausible” that American leaders should have resisted it.) Eastwood achieved a similar parallelism with Flags of Our Fathers.

In Eastwood’s two films, (as in perhaps all his films over the past several decades), the possibility of honor seems to exist only at the personal level; institutions are inevitably corrupt and institutional violence always immoral. Individuals can make honorable decisions to die; they can also make honorable decisions to survive—Kuribayashi’s suicide is not depicted as dishonorable, but neither is Private Saigo’s survival. (Indeed, Kuribayashi tells him at one point, noticing how Saigo seems to survive a variety of desperate maneuvers, that he is a good soldier.)

Hastings’s book does seem to go a bit further: there is not personal honor, either. There is wisdom and folly, based principally on cost-benefit and risk analysis. You can die, or send men to their death, if it seems likely to gain worthy goals. Once such goals are no longer attainable, dying or sending men to their death becomes wicked and despicable. (The trick of course lies in making those cost-benefit and risk analyses correctly.)

Both Hastings and Eastwood are right-of-center political figures, yet their critique of war and especially their critique of honor, seems at odds with much right-of-center discourse. Compare their analyses with George Will’s angry dismissal of David Kennedy’s suggestion that Americans’ conduct of, specifically, the Pacific War (among other things) might have caused “some discomfort”:

Well, yes, they might have “reflected with some discomfort” on that coagulation of late-20th-century academic conventional wisdom. They preferred — silly them — simply to say: We won, and a good thing, too.

Do not read this book. And if any of your children wind up at Stanford, where Prof. Kennedy teaches, tell them to shun his classes.

I suppose it’s possible, here, to conclude that Eastwood and Hastings are simply more honorable conservatives than Will. But perhaps also the intervening eight years have made it possible to say different things about war.


1In one case—that of Vice Admiral Matome Ugaki—it’s possible that Hastings finds a method of suicide contemptible because it entails the near-certain death of others; in the other case—that of General Korechika Anami—the suicide is a traditional, personal act.
2According to Hastings, it remains unclear whether Nishi actually shot himself or not, though in the film he does.

[Editor’s Note: Teo, frequent commenter and outstanding history blogger in his own right (see here and especially here), joins us today for a weekend edition of This Day in History. I’d tell you more about Teo, but I don’t really know much about him. Other than this: I’ve been begging him to get a PhD in history for months now, preferably here, at UC Davis. But no matter what I’ve tried — even a Camaro leased in his name — he has spurned my advances. Which really is too bad. Because he’s already a great historian. Seriously, check this out. See for yourself.]

On this day in 1692, a massive riot broke out in Mexico City. The ultimate cause of the riot seems to have been the failure of both the wheat and maize crops the previous autumn and the resulting shortage of grain, but to call this event a “corn riot,” as many have done, is to simplify things overmuch. The viceroy of New Spain, the Conde de Galve, did in fact go to great lengths to supply the city with grain, often at the expense of outlying areas.

The problem, however, at least for the urban poor, was how to get that grain. While supplies in the city were not severely impacted by the overall shortage, prices certainly were, and they climbed dramatically throughout the course of the spring. The system of grain distribution in Mexico City at the time was based on a public granary (pósito) and accompanying grain exchange (alhóndiga). As supplies came in from the agricultural hinterland they were deposited in the posito, which the government put a high priority on keeping stocked. Consumers could then come to the alhóndiga to buy grain from the pósito.

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This is the image on the Barack Obama campaign’s homepage just now.

Clicking “show your support” takes you here. The Obama campaign really knows how to show good grace and high-mindedness, in a way that truly astonishes me and almost gives me, er, hope—especially combined with today’s other show of class. It also seems overwhelmingly at odds with the prevailing political discourse in this country.

To me, the image to the right looks an awful lot like an anthropomorphic chimpanzee (sorry for the lousy screen cap). But that’s silly, of course, because it’s Barack Obama! Brought to you by the New Yorker! Right on the magazine’s home page! Actually, the image is a tease for a video about drawing the presidential candidates, including a meditation on Obama’s efforts to cast himself as post-racial. Still, it strikes me that this caricature — and perhaps the video as well — suggests one or more of the following: 1) I’m too sensitive. 2) Editors at the New Yorker aren’t sensitive enough. 3) Having an African-American man run for president will present extraordinary, and likely salutary, challenges for our culture. To be clear, 1, 2, and 3 are in no way mutually exclusive.

This is officially an award-winning blog

HNN, Best group blog: "Witty and insightful, the Edge of the American West puts the group in group blog, with frequent contributions from an irreverent band.... Always entertaining, often enlightening, the blog features snazzy visuals—graphs, photos, videos—and zippy writing...."