Forwarded from Chris Kromm
lnp3 at SPAMpanix.com
Wed Jan 10 12:50:11 MST 2001
Wednesday, January 10, 2001 - Issue #5
FACING SOUTH is a progressive Southern news update, brought to you by the
Institute for Southern Studies and Southern Exposure magazine. To join the
Institute and get a year's worth of Southern Exposure, use the order form
below or go to http://www.southernstudies.org
IN THIS EDITION OF FACING SOUTH:
> INSTITUTE INDEX - New year, same old economy
> DATELINE: THE SOUTH - News around the region
> DID "WEST WING" SWING THE ELECTION? - The West Virginia connection
> COMMENTARY: STEVE EARLE - A Death in Texas
> COMMENTARY: GOV. ZELL MILLER - Why Georgia should remove the
> GET IN TOUCH - Turn in your friends; contact us; join the Institute
INSTITUTE INDEX - New year, same old economy
> Percent of U.S. residents in families making under $25,000 a year who
feel the economy is "going in the right direction": 26
> Percent of those in families making $50,000 or more who think this: 50
> Percent increase in amount of debt held by the average U.S. family
between 1995 and 1998: 42
> Factor by which CEO pay is higher than that of blue-collar workers: 475
> Number of President Bush's 36 economic advisors who contributed money in
the 2000 elections: 31
> Percent of African-Americans nationally who feel the 2000 elections were
a "major crisis for the country": 84
> Percent of Southerners (all races) who think this: 49
All sources on file at the Institute.
DATELINE: THE SOUTH - News around the region
> CONFEDERATE FLAG BATTLES BREW ACROSS THE SOUTH
Symbols of the Old South are haunting Georgia, Mississippi and South
Carolina, as each state faces bitter battles over the Confederate flag in
*** GEORGIA: Flag fight hangs "like Damocles' sword" over new state
*** MISSISSIPPI: Lawmakers vote to put flag re-design up for referendum
*** SOUTH CAROLINA: Hundreds protest removal of Confederate flag from
> "JUNKED" WORKERS GIVE NAFTA ITS FINAL TEST
They're called "junkeados" -- the junked ones -- workers so sick they're
given special jobs. But despite their complaints that companies on the
U.S./Mexico border routinely violate health and safety laws, the officials
charged to enforce NAFTA's labor side agreements refuse to act. (Pacific
> "GUESTWORKER" BILL FOR FARM LABORERS DEFEATED
In a significant gain for farmworker advocates, a controversial bill to
import farm laborers from Mexico and other small countries -- without wage
standards and other job protections -- was defeated last December.
(Sarasota Herald Tribune)
*** Related News - Florida farmworkers organize January march for better
*** Visit the Institute's Farmworker Justice Project for more on farmworker
> CLINTON PARDONS WOMAN; A "SYMBOL" OF NEED FOR SENTENCING REFORM
Although she never sold or handled drugs, in 1994 Kemba Smith was sentenced
to 24 years in prison due to newly-enacted mandatory sentencing laws. Smith
was pardoned by President Clinton just before Christmas, but her concern
about sentencing reform remains. (NNPA)
> WINN-DIXIE DRAWS BOYCOTT FOR FIRING "CROSS-DRESSING" EMPLOYEE
Last January, New Orleans resident Peter Oiler was fired from a Winn-Dixie
grocery store after telling a supervisor he cross-dressed off the job. Gay
rights activists and the ACLU have launched a national campaign to get
Oiler's job back. (Southern Voice)
> GEORGIA POLITICIANS CROSS POLITICAL LINES TO PRESERVE AFFIRMATIVE ACTION
In 1960, the Georgia state legislature promised "massive resistance" to
integration. But today, Democratic and Republican state leaders are joining
together to fight for affirmative action at the University of Georgia.
> KILLED IN THE COALFIELDS
Since 1993, over 94 coal workers have died in Kentucky's mines. Yet
reporter Ralph Dunlop, in a three-part investigation, finds that the
Kentucky Mine Board, charged with regulating the industry, has yet to take
action in 98 cases in which people were convicted of safety violations.
> GEORGE BUSH'S DEMOCRATS
The Democrats supporting George W. Bush all have a similar cast: they're
conservative, and they're Southern. Jesse Jackson, Jr., argues that
"bi-partisanship" follows a long history of conservative Democratic
politics. (The Nation)
DID "THE WEST WING" SWING THE ELECTION? - The West Virginia connection;
While analysts continue to unravel the mystery of the 2000 elections,
reporter Laura Lippman of the Baltimore Sun may have come up with the most
novel explanation for George W. Bush's presidential victory.
In a December 31 piece for the New York Times, Lippman points the finger at
Josiah (Jed) Bartlet. Yes, he's the fictional Commander-in-Chief on NBC's
Emmy-winning TV series, "The West Wing." But while the show trumpets the
"reliably liberal" values of pretend-President Bartlet, played by actor
Martin Sheen, in real life the show may have handed the presidency "to a
Republican opposed to everything [Bartlet] holds dear."
Here's why: In a dramatic episode last fall, President Bartlet was shot,
struck by a bullet intended for his African-American aid. According to
Lippman, "The fictitious hate group that engineered this hit was named West
Virginia Pride, and the slight did not go ignored in West Virginia. A state
senator encouraged an NBC boycott, and The Charlestown Gazette ran a rueful
item in a Nov. 6 column the day before the election."
"West Virginia had gone Republican in the presidential race only three
times before in the 20th century," Lippman continues. "This time, Mr. Bush
easily won the state's five Electoral College votes. If Mr. Gore had
carried West Virginia, he would have won the presidency."
Sounds about as good as any other theory.
COMMENTARY: STEVE EARLE - A Death in Texas
Prison may have made a new man out of Jonathan Nobles -- but death row only
has one exit. Singer-songwriter reports from the killing fields of Texas.
"Hey, man." Jonathan Wayne Nobles grins at me through inch-thick
wire-reinforced glass, hunching over to speak in a deep, resonant voice
through the steel grate below. A feeble "Whats up?" is the best I can
manage. The visiting area in Ellis One Unit is crowded with other folks who
have traveled, in some cases thousands of miles, to visit relatives and
correspondents on Texas Death Row. They sit at intervals in wooden chairs
surrounding a cinder block and steel cage that dominates the center of the
room. There are cages within the cage as well, reserved for inmates under
disciplinary action and "death watch" status. Falling into the latter
category, Jon must squeeze his considerable bulk into one of these
Its an awkward moment for both of us. In the 10 years we have
corresponded, we have never met face to face. The occasion is auspicious.
Jon and I will spend eight hours a day together for the next three days and
another three days next week. Then the state of Texas will transport Jon,
chained hand and foot, 11 miles to the Walls unit in downtown Huntsville.
There he will be pumped full of chemicals that will collapse his lungs and
stop his heart forever. This is not a worst-case scenario. It is a
certainty. Jonathan Nobles has precisely 10 days to live. And I, at Jons
request, will attend the execution as one of his witnesses.
For the rest of the story, visit:
COMMENTARY: GOV. ZELL MILLER - "Give Bigotry No Sanction"
Why Georgia should remove the Confederate emblem from the state flag
In 1993, then-Governor Zell Miller opened the General Assembly session with
an impassioned plea to change the state flag and remove the Confederate
emblem. The speech was met with little applause, although it drew praise
for its eloquence by editorial writers and political commentators. His
effort to change the flag failed and a strong backlash nearly cost him
re-election. Here are excerpts from that speech:
"Of all the arguments that have been made for keeping this flag, the most
infuriating to me is the contention that if we don't, we will somehow
forget the sacrifices made by those who fought for the Confederacy.
We will not forget. We cannot forget. Our graveyards, our literature and
many of our own family histories will forever keep alive the memory of
those who died for the Confederacy -- and the memory of those whose freedom
from slavery depended on the Confederacy's defeat.
I certainly cannot forget my own Confederate ancestors. I will never forget
my great-grandfather, Brantley Bryan, who was wounded while fighting with
Stonewall Jackson at Chancellorsville, then wounded again and more severely
at Gettysburg in the same battle that took his brother's life.
But I also cannot forget the many millions of Georgians, my ancestors and
yours, who also made sacrifices in other wars both before and after the War
Between the States.
And in reverence to their memory, I cannot accept the idea that the brief,
violent and tragic period of the Confederacy is the only part -- the only
part -- of our long history that defines our identity and our traditions.
For 43 of those years, we were a British colony; for 11 years a sovereign
state under the Articles of Confederation; and for more than 200 years a
member of the United States.
For four brief years -- that's 1.5 percent of our state's entire history --
Georgia was a member of the Confederate States of America. Yet it is the
Confederacy's most inflammatory symbol that dominates our flag today.
We all know why. And it has nothing to do with the bravery of the
Confederate troops. You may quibble all you want about who said what in 1956.
It is clear the flag was changed in 1956 to identify Georgia with the dark
side of the Confederacy -- that desire to deprive some Americans of the
equal rights that are the birthright of all Americans, and yes, the
determination to destroy the United States if necessary to achieve that goal.
The legislators who voted to change the flag in 1956 were prepared to defy
the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution. They were prepared to
eliminate our public schools and even prohibit our college football teams
from competing in bowl games -- in order to maintain segregated schools,
segregated public transportation, segregated drinking fountains and
segregated recreational facilities.
We have long since repudiated every element of those shameful 1956 days of
defiance -- except for the flag they created.
We now proudly send our sons and even our daughters abroad to defend the
United States of America.
Yet we maintain as a symbol of our state a flag that challenges the very
existence of the United States of America. And a flag that exhibits pride
in the enslavement of many of our ancestors. There is one, and only one,
argument for maintaining the current flag: the polls. The polls say it is
I submit to you that this one issue, by its very nature, transcends this
particular session and this particular climate of opinion. It goes to our
identity as a state, and it goes to our legitimacy as public officials.
Very probably this one vote will be the only one for which this General
Assembly is ever remembered, and the one vote for which each and every one
of you will be held accountable, not just by your constituents, but by
posterity and history.
You will have to live with this one decision far beyond the next election
-- 10 years from now, 30 years from now, to the end of your public career,
to the end of your life. If you don't believe me, think about those
congressmen who followed the polls of their day and voted against the Civil
Rights Act of 1964. Some were ruined, and the rest forever regretted it.
I submit to you that you cannot escape this individual decision. You cannot
hide in the crowd.
This issue will not go away, and I do not believe a single one of you in
this chamber really believes that the present flag will survive for very
long into the future.
So, that brings it down to a matter of sheer guts. Will you do the easy
thing, or the right thing? When your grandchildren read about this in
school and ask you how you voted, will you be able to answer in a
forthright manner, or will you say, "Well, you see, the polls looked bad
back then"? Or, "I wanted a referendum first"?
Will you proudly act as an individual, or will you just go along with the
crowd? . . .
Since 1789, Georgia's motto has been: "Wisdom, Justice, Moderation." There
is nothing wise, just or moderate in a flag that reopens old wounds and
perpetuates old hatreds.
Our battlefields, our graveyards, our monuments are important reminders of
our history, both the proud and the painful. They will and always should be
there. That's history.
But our flag is a symbol -- a symbol of what we stand for as a state.
I want to see this state live by the words of George Washington to the
sexton of the Rhode Island synagogue: "Ours is a government which gives to
bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance."
If you're truly proud of the South, if you're truly proud of this state,
and all its 260 years, if you look forward and want to play a significant
part in what Georgia can become, then help me now to give bigotry no
sanction, and persecution no assistance."
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