NPR story on Geo Wallace’s apology and redemption is message to Israeli racists

Israel/Palestine
on 27 Comments

Yesterday NPR’s All Things Considered aired a devastating story on the 50th anniversary of then-Alabama Governor George Wallace’s speech, “I say segregation now, segregation tomorrow and segregation forever.” The heart of the story was the effect Wallace had on John Lewis, the civil rights leader who was born in Alabama and later became a Georgia congressman– when Wallace gave the speech, and when he regretted it in years to come.

Lewis on the speech:

I took it very personal. My governor, this elected official, was saying in effect, you are not welcome, you are not welcome… Words can be very powerful. Words can be dangerous. Governor Wallace never pulled a trigger. He never fired a gun. But in his speech, he created the environment for others to pull the trigger in the days, the weeks and months to come.

And Lewis on Wallace’s redemption:

A few short years later, after I got to Congress, Governor Wallace heard that I was going to be in Alabama. He said, John Lewis, will you come by, talk with me? And I remember the occasion so well. It was like someone confessing to their priest or to a minister. He wanted people to forgive him. He said, I never hated anybody. I never hated any black people. He said, Mr. Lewis, I’m sorry. And I said, well, Governor, I accept your apology.

Does it hurt me? No. In the end, I think George Wallace was one of the signs on this long journey towards the creation of a better America, toward the creation of a more perfect union. It was just one of the stumbling blocks along the way.

NPR host Audie Cornish delivered the last lines of the story:

In his later years, George Wallace reached out to civil rights activists and appeared in black churches to ask forgiveness. In his last election as governor of Alabama in 1982, he won with more than 90 percent of the black vote.

This story had one takeaway for me: The racists in Israeli politics must also be humbled– they will be humbled. 

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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27 Responses

  1. Avi_G.
    January 15, 2013, 11:23 am

    This story had one takeaway for me: The racists in Israeli politics must also be humbled– they will be humbled.

    No they won’t because Zionist Jews in America and in mass media like NPR continue to provide them with cover.

    Zionist American Jews like to pretend that they are hardcore liberals,

    Why look at our track record on civil-rights, on women’s rights. We know what freedom and equality look like. The fact that we are not criticizing Israel should be an indication that it’s the Palestinians who are at fault here because we KNOW what justice looks like. And our track record on US domestic issues proves it.

    Incidentally, a couple of years ago I attended a lecture/discussion about the ramifications of the Arab Spring and developments in Israel. In the row in front of me sat a Jewish woman from NPR with a notepad and a pen in hand.

    The Israeli occupation of the West Bank was discussed, she didn’t write anything.
    The siege on Gaza was discussed, she didn’t write anything.
    The rise of religious fanatics in Israel was discussed, she didn’t write anything.
    The rise of the Moslem Brotherhood in Egypt was discussed, she took a few notes.
    The relationship between Christian Copts and Moslems was discussed, she was writing every word. I bet her headline screamed: “Moslems are persecuting Christians”.

    • MRW
      January 15, 2013, 11:52 am

      Good one, Avi. The Neocon Public Radio, as I read somewhere.

    • seafoid
      January 15, 2013, 12:19 pm

      Her kids will do the job she can’t. The hatred the Zionists have for the Palestinians can’t be transmitted successfully to the next generation.

    • Dan Crowther
      January 15, 2013, 12:50 pm

      Avi For The Win. Cheer my brother!

    • Chu
      January 16, 2013, 1:12 pm

      NPR is always guilty of soft-pedaling zionism and steering clear of the racism that pervades Israel.

      ‘Zionist American Jews like to pretend that they are hardcore liberals’
      Important to state this. What is the disconnect here? Many NY Jews claim
      that they are so righteous with leftist causes, but will not even have a conversation
      about Israel’s problems – they shut down the discussion. It’s likely because they will lose any debate. Colleagues and friends more often take this similar stand, saying ‘well, my family is Jewish’ or ‘don’t you talk about Israel’. What a joke. I’m embarrassed for them.

  2. seafoid
    January 15, 2013, 12:34 pm

    Israel is going to fall apart. Burston has good one today.

    link to haaretz.com

    “But many American Jews are already distancing themselves in word and deed from a government it sees as arrogant and short-sighted, enslaved to a runaway train of settlement, dismissive of the rights of Palestinians and other non-Jews, cold to the concerns of a sinking middle class and the drowning disadvantaged, contemptuous of the concerns of the larger Jewish world.

    The catalysts: settlement expansion – especially as it strikes at Israeli-Palestinian peace prospects and mocks Washington – and backhanded insensitivity to the rights and ritual of non-Orthodox Jews.

    Now, as Israel’s election campaign nears its home stretch, the heavily favored Likud-Beiteinu party, which encompasses the principal authors of nearly all of the anti-democratic legislation of the last four years, offers fresh voices and perilous new avenues for alienating American Jews from Israel.

    There is, for example, Moshe Feiglin, who will enter the Knesset following the January 22 election. Something of his political philosophy can be gleaned from a 2004 article on radical settlers, in which Feiglin spoke to Goldberg, then writing in the New Yorker:

    “Why should non-Jews have a say in the policy of a Jewish state?” Feiglin said to me. “For two thousand years, Jews dreamed of a Jewish state, not a democratic state. Democracy should serve the values of the state, not destroy them.” In any case, Feiglin said, “You can’t teach a monkey to speak and you can’t teach an Arab to be democratic. You’re dealing with a culture of thieves and robbers. Muhammad, their prophet, was a robber and a killer and a liar. The Arab destroys everything he touches.”

    American Jews want to know what is being done in their name. In the name of Judaism. And if they think that it is self-destructive, oppressive, blockheaded and wrong, it stands to reason they would want it to stop.
    American Jews are tiring of being told that opposing Israel’s policies puts Israelis in danger. Blackmail is not persuasion. If the hard right is so certain that it can get along without American Jewish support, it may all too soon get the chance to find out.

    • john h
      January 15, 2013, 9:04 pm

      “American Jews want to know what is being done in their name. In the name of Judaism.” These are not synonymous. Far from it. It’s part of Zionism’s legacy to muddy those waters. But then, you already know that!

  3. sardelapasti
    January 15, 2013, 12:49 pm

    There’s way worse. John Lewis, the guy who “took personal” being excluded from the racist system in Alabama, later became an apologist for the Zionist entity.
    He must have cost a lot to buy.

    For those who want to google this former Freedom Fighter turned white Racial Supremacism supporter, do not confuse him with the John Lewis stores in the UK, that commendably stopped stocking Ahava after a boycott demo.

    • mondonut
      January 15, 2013, 5:23 pm

      sardelapasti says: For those who want to google this former Freedom Fighter turned white Racial Supremacism supporter,…
      ==================================
      John Lewis of Georgia is a supporter of White Racial Supremacists? Is there no end to the venom for those who do not share your opinions?

      • sardelapasti
        January 16, 2013, 3:23 am

        Venom? Opinion?
        Just fact. Do your homework before you react. Just google Joh Lewis Israel and take the very first or any random link, provided it’s not about the UK John Lewis stores.

        So, first page that comes up (right from the Zionist ass’ mouth):
        link to jacpac.org
        “Rep. John Lewis, a pro-Israel, pro-choice member of Congress, has been a friend of JAC since the PAC’s early days. ….he has been a steadfast ally when it comes to the US-Israel relationship and other concerns of the Jewish community. He often speaks at Jewish events about the importance of these relationships.
        …He votes and speaks for Israel and Jews and the bond between the Black and Jewish communities.”
        If you weren’t paying attention in these last 20 years you have a lot to catch up with, so start reading.

      • mondonut
        January 19, 2013, 11:50 am

        sardelapasti says:Venom? Opinion? Just fact. Do your homework before you react.
        ———————————
        Nonsense. I live in Atlanta and John Lewis is my Rep. I have seen him speaking a dozen times and I have shook hands with him. To state that he is a supporter of White Racial Supremacism is an evil lie and contrary to everything he has done in his adult life.

      • sardelapasti
        January 21, 2013, 2:27 pm

        mondonut re John Lewis:
        “To state that he is a supporter of White Racial Supremacism is an evil lie and contrary to everything he has done in his adult life.”

        Spare us that bull. He supports Zionism, quite conspicuously. No better White Racial Supremacism than Zionism. In fact, that is explicitly what it was conceived as, when Herzl and Smuts gave birth to, respectively, “Israel” and Apartheid South Africa. That is exactly what it still is, and that is what makes support for it by the great John Lewis such an unspeakable horror.
        Or do you think the Ostjiddish and urban Germans were seeing themselves as Blackamoors at that time? That they very much do not now, in “Israel” or Crown Heights, we know! So you should perhaps come back with your “evil lie” stuff after you realize what Zionism is.

        “I have shook hands with him”. Is the fact that you choose to keep such company enough whitewash –pardon the word?

  4. chris_k
    January 15, 2013, 1:14 pm

    I’ve read some accounts that say Wallace wasn’t personally a hardened racist, that he liked Africans at first, and then started grandstanding on desegregation to gain political advantage in the South. In that respect I don’t see anything different from him and Hillary Clinton, who played the white card against Obama in 2008 saying “hard working Americans” etc. A lot of pro-Israel figures really hate Muslims, like Bloomberg. But pro-Israel figures can pose with both African-Americans and Muslims who aren’t outraged against the I-P conflict etc.

    • pineywoodslim
      January 17, 2013, 11:07 am

      Yes, that’s correct. There’s an excellent book by a Birmingham native, Diane McWhorter, “Carry Me Home” which details Alabama politics, racism, labor, and just about everything in between, from the 30s through the 60s

      Wallace was basically a New Deal democrat whose base was blue collar whites and labor (back in the 30s, Birmingham was an industrial giant–it even had a sizeable Communist Party).

      He turned to bigotry when push came to shove in the 50s after losing an election to some greater bigot.

      Still, as governor he pushed education–started Alabama’s community college system and laid the foundation for a great university, UAB, as well as pro-labor policies and other blue collar interests.

  5. weindeb
    January 15, 2013, 3:33 pm

    Avi_G, you write that “Zionist American Jews like to pretend that they are hardcore liberals…”. They do? I don’t know many card-carrying Zionists, but the few I do know I would hardly think would so pretend, even those who drop a few charity bucks here and there in the right places. I suspect most of them, at least the ones I know, would be alarmed if tarred with the word “liberal”, which they likely associate with lefty Antisemitism either of the self-hating kind or the more traditional sort.

    • Avi_G.
      January 15, 2013, 4:24 pm

      I agree.

      In reading my own comment again I myself am confused.

      What I meant to write was that American Jews who on domestic issues are staunch liberals often hold the opposite view on issues related to Israel. And then there are the so-called Liberal Zionists that figure into this equation, as well.

  6. mondonut
    January 15, 2013, 5:25 pm

    This story had one takeaway for me: The racists in Israeli politics must also be humbled– they will be humbled.
    ===========================================
    I hope you feel the same way for the racists in Palestinian politics.

    • eljay
      January 15, 2013, 7:27 pm

      >> This story had one takeaway for me: The racists in Israeli politics must also be humbled– they will be humbled.
      >> I hope you feel the same way for the racists in Palestinian politics.

      Racists in all politics must be humbled. Leave it to a hateful and immoral Zio-supremacist to:
      – deflect attention away from the hateful and immoral racist politics he defends, supports and advocates for; and
      – to take away nothing about the hateful and immoral racist politics he defends, supports and advocates for.

    • Cliff
      January 15, 2013, 7:42 pm

      im sure he does, nut

      but israelis are the movers (literally) in this conflict

      you only want equality in a rhetorical debate on a website

      you dont want equality in reality

      do you want the US to arm the Palestinians so that their ‘racist politicians’ can act on their beliefs just like your racist Israeli political counterparts?

      i think we should arm the PA to the teeth so that your pretentions melts away like white phosphorus

  7. hophmi
    January 15, 2013, 5:52 pm

    You hear a story about George Wallace, you think Israel. Like I said, obsession.

    • Annie Robbins
      January 15, 2013, 8:24 pm

      i think the trigger was john lewis, not wallace. i can not hear lewis’s name without recalling how he co-opted martin’s name in support of the zionist movement.

      link to electronicintifada.net

      • Hostage
        January 16, 2013, 1:09 am

        i can not hear lewis’s name without recalling how he co-opted martin’s name in support of the zionist movement.

        That’s not very hard to do, since MLK and the members of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference were ardent Christian Zionists in the first place. Stokely Carmichael and other leaders of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee SNCC spoke out against White Supremacy and Zionism in the same context and accused Israel of committing atrocities against Arabs, e.g. See SNCC Draws Fire For Zionist Charge link to news.google.com

        The SNCC and other civil rights groups thought that Ashkenazi rule over the Arabs was simply another example of white minority rule over people of color.

        MLK labeled them “young militants” and suggested they were anti-semites. He spoke about the necessity of security and territorial integrity for Israelis, but like Netanyahu, he claimed that Arabs only needed security on another, economic, level that would end their hunger and illiteracy. He repeated the usual hasbara talking points about transforming the desert into an oasis and called Israel an example of democracy and brotherhood.
        — See A testament of hope: the essential writings and speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr, Harper Collins, 1991, Martin Luther King, Martin Luther King (Jr.), James Melvin Washington, pages 670-671 link to books.google.com

        Electronic Intifada: Finding direct and published utterances by Dr. King about the modern Middle East and Zionism is extremely rare. A cursory review of dozens of books on and by the civil rights leader turned up nothing.

        Then use the link above and look again.

    • amigo
      January 15, 2013, 9:10 pm

      If wanting to end IsraelI colonialist obsession Is an obsession then I am a proudly obsessed.

    • eljay
      January 16, 2013, 8:23 am

      >> You hear a story about George Wallace, you think Israel.

      Shame, isn’t it? One can only hope that, one day, Israel – rather than remain an oppressive, colonialist, expansionst and supremacist state – will become a secular, democratic and egalitarian state of and for all Israelis equally, and stories about George Wallace will no longer apply.

    • seafoid
      January 16, 2013, 9:46 am

      “You hear a story about George Wallace, you think Israel. Like I said, obsession”.

      I always think “Lassie” when I hear Israel. Or else Shirley Temple.

  8. dbroncos
    January 15, 2013, 7:11 pm

    Great piece Phil. In accepting Wallace’s apology, Lewis recognized the importance of not humiliating a humbled man. Likewise, Mandela provides another great example. When he was released from prison and met with De Klerk for the first time he didn’t bring a list of accusations and demands as De Klerk had expected. In his first words to De Klerk he asked, “What are your fears?” De Klerk was speechless and humbled by the question.

    Important lessons for those who will live to see Zionism abolished.

  9. thetumta
    January 15, 2013, 10:47 pm

    I was there. I survived the Jim Crow South somehow. They were pikers compared to the Zionists. George Wallace would have been ashamed to be associated with the Jewish Zionism of today if you can believe that. Any rational person even in the 50’s would not be willing to go down this road without being extremely well paid. Just too much killing required. At some point, you have to do all the killing yourself, all of it. Up close and personal against another human being. No voting involved and no one cares about your opinion unless you have steel in your hand and not even then. The Israeli Zionists know this and always have. They will debate you until the cows come home, but when necessary, they will slaughter everyone they need to. I know, you didn’t know.

    This is what the Pals have been living with for a long time because of us. Most of us never have had to deal with anything remotely resembling Jewish Racism and you still want to have a discussion about it?

    Hej!

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