Why Honor Memory Of John Lewis When You Can Frolic At Klan Amusement Park?

White Nonsense

There's a pleasing fantasy that racism will finally end when the last withered segregation-era bigot breathes his last, but Alabama state Rep. Will Dismukes is proof that racism's a renewable resource.

Last weekend, the body of American hero and genuine patriot John Lewis returned to Alabama, the place of his birth and where his life could've ended on a bridge in Selma. Like a common Donald Trump, Dismukes couldn't be bothered to pay his respects. He was otherwise engaged in the land of cotton at Fort Dixie, which is not an actual military base so Trump doesn't have to worry about the woke mob renaming it after Al Sharpton.

Kyle Whitmire, a columnist for the Alabama Media Group, wrote about Dismuke's Lost Cause weekend. It's more absurdly racist than you could imagine.

Where to even start? Fort Dixie belongs to Butch and Sundance Pat Godwin, and there's no law against calling them Confederate sympathizers. They're proud of this shit, especially Pat Godwin, who's described the majority Black Selma as "Zimbabwe on de Alabamy." She considers the 1965 voting rights march a debauched "Mother of all Orgies." I don't mean to kink shame — everyone's free to do their thing — but white racist cops beating Black folks with clubs is my least favorite kind of orgy.

Godwin has fought against the Alabama Historical Commission even acknowledging the Selma march, and that's strange because with all the Confederate iconography on display at Fort Dixie, you'd think she'd be big on preserving history. She's also described herself in emails as a "Wizardess." Cate Blanchett could really do something with this character.

Every year, Godwin throws a birthday bash for Nathan Bedford Forrest, who is 200 years old and dead. He was also racist as fuck, even for the "necessary evil" days of yore. He led a massacre of hundreds of Black US soldiers, committing what we'd consider today war crimes.

Forrest was a Grand Wizard of the Klu Klux Klan and although he later resigned, you got the idea it was because of a disagreement over the length of the white hoods and not any meaningful racial epiphany.

WHITMIRE: At the event according to announcements, her organization, Friends of Forrest, gives away a small cast bust of the KKK founder as a door prize and has offered, among other food options, a "Pickaninny Freeze Watermelon Stand."

I had to Google that last thing to understand how racist it was.

I didn't have to Google “pickaninny," a racist term for a Black child, because I'd heard the term more than once growing up in 1980s South Carolina. Regardless, here's the "freeze."

So, was this a Klan rally? They're celebrating a Klan leader. Multiple Confederate flags are plastered everywhere. And there are the needlessly racist treats. It seems to have a Klan rally shape.

The irony is compelling: Forrest was an early member of a terrorist group that violently suppressed the vote of Black people in the aftermath of the Civil War. John Lewis peacefully protested for the reinstatement of those voting rights. Dismukes chose to honor Forrest.

Dismukes claimed in a now-deleted Facebook post that his visit to Fort Dixie wasn't intended to disrespect Lewis. He wasn't even thinking about Lewis, and that's the whole problem. Lewis is a major part of the Southern heritage Dismukes claims to honor. He continued to miss the point during an interview with local media.

DISMUKES: I guess, with the anti-Southern sentiment and all, and the things that we have going on in the world today, there's a lot of people that are seeming to be more and more offended, We live in a time where we literally are going through cancel culture from all different areas and people are even more sensitive on different issues and different subjects. This was just one of those times that it didn't quite go the way I expected, and I never intended to bring hurt to anyone, especially my own family with everything that's been said.

Opposition to racism isn't “anti-Southern sentiment." The Klan doesn't own the South. The Confederacy didn't just lose a war against the Northern states. It lost the first in a long series of battles against the Black people who had just as much a claim to the South as any white person. Dismukes, the Godwins, and everyone enjoying a nice cold racist snack at Fort Dixie deliberately embrace the soldiers who fought and died for white supremacy. Decent people of all races and from all parts of the country chose instead to honor a leader on the right side of this ongoing war.

Alabama's Democratic Party has pushed for Dismuke to resign over his previous racist shenanigans, and this latest one is no exception. However, Dismuke's weekend Klanbake managed to embarrass state Republicans, including Alabama House Majority Whip Danny Garrett and House Speaker Mac McCutcheon.

GARRETT: I cannot fathom why anyone in 2020 celebrates the birthday of the 1st KKK Grand Wizard. And while the body of a civil rights icon beaten by the Klan lies at state Capitol being honored by GOP/Dem leaders from all over the state. This mentality does not rep my party or my faith.

Dismukes turned 30 in February. He's just a few months older than "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" TV series. The first presidential election when he could vote was 2008, but I doubt he cast a ballot for Barack Obama. I also think he knows his constituency and is secure in his position. Our racist past isn't yet history. It's not even past.

[AL.com / Washington Post]

Stephen Robinson on Twitter.

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle. Tickets are on sale now for his latest Nordo collaboration, "Curiouser and Curiouser," an adaptation of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass." It promises to feel like an actual evening with SER (for good or for ill).


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