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“But For Birmingham…” A Dissent On The Birmingham Church Bombing After Fifty Years
VDARE.com note: In case you missed our January 2013 VDARE.com webinar, or you want to relive its glory, DVD recordings are FINALLY ready and available! The DVDs come in a set of 2, divided into the morning and afternoon sessions. They offer a meaty sampling of some of VDARE.com’s favorite topics : the Birmingham bombing and racial realities of America’s urban decline (Paul Kersey), how guns, race and immigration really relate to each other (James Fulford); the critical significance of the white a.k.a. American vote (Steve Sailer); and, unforgettably, Our Job Is To Combat ‘Anosognosia’ BY SQUIRTING ICE-COLD WATER INTO SOCIETY'S LEFT EAR by John Derbyshire ). All for $50 (tax-deductible!). You can donate in the usual way, just alert office@VDARE.com with your snailmail address.
We post tonight an adaptation of Paul Kersey’s January 19 address “But For Birmingham” which was prescient in several ways, given this year’s debate, and is the only dissent you are likely hear on the fiftieth Anniversary of the Birmingham Church bombings, September 15, 2013.Paul Kersey’s book The Tragic City: Birmingham 1963-2013 was reviewed on VDARE.com here.
Time Magazine described Barack Obama as the “Architect of a New America” when it crowned him Man of the Year.
It's certainly an apt description for a man who just won a closely contested victory over Mitt Romney in the 2012 election.
Conservatism Inc. would have you believe it was a blowout, but the truth is that Barack Obama relied almost exclusively on a coalition of post-1965 Americans, with the significant addition of the monolithic black vote. The GOP also sabotaged itself because of its inability to get the white working class to show up at the polls.
Only VDARE.com discussed the important truth behind the 2012 elections. Conservatism Inc. has swept aside any real discussion about voting behavior so as to better welcome the “inevitable” Hispanic tide. As for Barack Obama, he's hard at work cobbling together a mostly anti-American coalition and still telling us it is the same country as Norman Rockwell's. “Electing a new people” indeed.
Few men of courage exist in Obama’s America—as Peter Brimelow has correctly observed, this is an occupied country. However, Brimelow himself and the writers and staff of VDARE.com are among the few who express cutting edge political opinions. Unfortunately, this places them squarely in the crosshairs of the trigger-happy Obama Administration.
2013 is an auspicious year for a resurgent authentic American nationalism—the kind of real patriotism VDARE.com has championed since I first found the site more than 13 years ago.
2013 is, after all, the 50th anniversary of the events in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963: the year Bull Connor, water cannons, and vicious dogs were packaged as the last vestiges of dying way of life—the American way of life.
Think about it. But for Birmingham, would we have watched Watts, Rochester, Detroit, and Newark go up in flames as a result of what Life Magazine dubbed the “Negro Revolt”? Had the events of Birmingham transpired differently, would the Western World have capitulated?
It is this one city, and the events of 1963 in particular, that have been used to promote the radical transformation of America to conform with racial egalitarianism. The specter of Birmingham haunts America, providing the justification for the “Architect of a New America” to socially engineer the country out of existence.
Any politician who dares question the mass immigration of non-European immigrants into the United States (or Europe for that matter) will instantly be denounced as preparing to unleash the hounds and water cannons, a la Bull Connor. After all, illegals are just “people seeking a better life.”
But for Birmingham, would this be happening?
Theologian Bruce Metzger, in his 1997 book, The Canon of the New Testament: Its Origin, Development, and Significancee, claimed that the famous “Letter From a Birmingham Jail” by Martin Luther King, Jr, was actually considered by some ministers a worthy addition to the Bible. Metzger states:
“Shortly after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1968, a group of ministers seriously proposed that King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” be added to the New Testament. All will appreciate that this letter, written in April 1964 after he had been jailed in Birmingham, Alabama, for participating in a civil-rights protest, conveys a strong prophetic witness, and interprets God’s will in the spirit of Christ. At the same time, however, most will recognize that the differences as to age and character between it and the books of the New Testament are far to great to warrant its being added to the canon, and today few if any take the proposal seriously.”
Does such a proposal sound so outlandish anymore?
Much has changed since 1997—a statue of MLK now rests just off the Mall in Washington D.C. President Obama will take the Oath of Office Monday on not just Abe Lincoln’s Bible, but MLK’s travel Bible as well.
But for Birmingham…
In the recently-released book 1963: How the Birmingham Civil Rights Movement Changed America and the World, Barnett Wright writes:
On January 1, 1964, the Birmingham News published a nearly 6,000 word front-page editorial reflecting on the “Trials and Blessings of 1963,” in which the newspaper asked future generations:
“Did the older folks make the tough but right decisions in 1963—did they carry them out in year after year that followed? Did we serve you youngsters—our children—by putting you ahead of our personal wishes or prejudices or desire? Did we pay the price for your future?
Fifty year later, the verdict is in.
Since 1963, Birmingham has elected four black mayors, appointed three black police chiefs, and installed seven black school superintendents. Still, much work remains to be in the city according to Edward Shannon LaMonte—retired Birmingham Southern College professor—and others.
“Prejudice and social injustice still exist in this city, and they play a role in terms of the opportunities people enjoy today,” said Jefferson County Circuit Judge Helen Shores Lee. “Jim Crow laws may not exist anymore, but the spirit of Jim Crow is alive and well, primarily due to institutional racism, which often make it difficult for us [sic] recognize it and root it out.
[2013 in Birmingham opens year of commemoration of 1963 civil rights events, By Barnett Wright AL.com January 01, 2013]
Judge Lee is right—but not in the way she thinks. Prejudice and racism do exist in Birmingham. But it’s not the kind people want to discuss.
Birmingham today is 74 percent black. The Birmingham City Council—where 7 of the 9 members are black—busies itself by banning Title Loan and Payday Stores from opening in the city. They also found time to entertain Trayvon Martin’s parents and make him an honorary citizen.
It was in 2010 that Winnie Mandela, wife to former Communist and international media hero Nelson Mandela, compared the struggle in Birmingham to the struggle against Apartheid rule in South Africa. Luckily, the former Mrs. Mandela hasn't brought the practice of “necklacing” to Birmingham (yet).
It was in 2003 then National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, a native of the city, used Birmingham to attack any critics of the neoconservative war to remake the Middle East in the wonderful image of democracy:
“Like many of you, I grew up around the home-grown terrorism of the 1960s. The bombing of the church in Birmingham in 1963 is one that will forever be in my memory because one of the little girls who died was a friend of mine. Forty years removed from that tragedy, I can honestly say that Denise McNair and others didn't die in vain. They and all who suffered and struggled for civil and human rights helped to reintroduce America to its founding ideals. And because of their sacrifice, America is a better nation and a better example to a world where difference is still often taken as a license to kill.
But knowing what we know about the difficulties of our own history, knowing what we know about how hard it is to build democracy, we need to be humble in singing freedom's praises.
But we should not let our voice waver in speaking out on the side of people who are seeking freedom. And we must never, ever indulge in the condescending voices who allege that some people in Africa or in the Middle East are just not interested in freedom, they're culturally just not ready for freedom or they just aren't ready for freedom's responsibilities.
We've heard that argument before, and we, more than any, as a people, should be ready to reject it. The view was wrong in 1963 in Birmingham, and it is wrong in 2003 in Baghdad and in the rest of the Middle East.”
Address to the National Association of Black Journalists convention, August 7, 2003.
What does “freedom” mean in a three-fourths Black city, dominated by a black political class since the 1979 election of Mayor Richard Arrington? Mayor Arrington, I might add, tried to implement an even more progressive and radical Affirmative Action plan to create an artificial black middle class through government jobs than his fellow black Mayor Maynard Jackson in Atlanta.
Let me present to you some recent headlines from The Birmingham News, which has been running front page articles highlighting the evil past of white racism in the city and the righteous Civil Rights movement that supplanted white rule:
The Birmingham city accountant fired twice on allegations of racism and incompetence today slapped the city with a federal lawsuit saying it was Mayor William Bell's administration that was the true perpetrator of racial discrimination.
Virginia Spidle's federal lawsuit alleges that the city has a pattern of discrimination and retaliation against white employees.
Much of the 49-page lawsuit recounts the testimony heard in days of hearings at the Jefferson County Personnel Board, where Spidle was ultimately cleared of her initial firing charge.
"We are celebrating 50 years of progress in civil rights. In the year we are celebrating that, good people of Birmingham would not approve of mistreating a person because of their race," Spidle's lawyer, Gayle Gear told AL.com/The Birmingham News in an interview. "The foot soldiers—those who have worked diligently on behalf of race relations for this city—what happened in 2010, 2011 and 2012 is not a step forward in race relations. It is a step backwards. And that is why the lawsuit had to be filed."
Spidle is seeking a jury trial where she will ask for compensatory damages, additional back pay and related economic losses.
"The city instigated and condoned a race-based hostile work environment in the city's finance department," the lawsuit reads. "The discriminatory animus was severe and pervasive altering the terms and conditions of employment."
"Despite protestations by plaintiff and other Caucasian employees, a racially charged hostile work environment was instigated, encouraged and condoned by top city officials, specifically Mayor Bell and Chief of Operations, Jarvis Patton," the lawsuit states.
Spidle claims the entire process that resulted in her termination was biased and part of a culture of hostility toward a white minority in her department at City Hall.
"During the period that plaintiff was being subjected to race-based discrimination, other supervisors, who are Caucasian, were reporting similar discriminatory treatment altering the terms and conditions of their employment."
“Birmingham appears on a list of the worst run cities in America published by 24/7 Wall Street.
Birmingham is the 13th-worst-run city in the nation, the site declares. Crime is a problem, with 14.83 violent crimes per 1,000 people, the nation's fifth-highest rate. And unemployment is relatively high, with the city's rate having been above 10 percent as recently as August.
The city is also criticized for its high sales tax, which at 10 percent is tied for the nation's highest rate with nearby Montgomery. That high rate is especially problematic because sales taxes are regressive—they hurt poor people disproportionately—and Birmingham's poverty rate is among the nation's highest.
The nation's worst run city is San Bernardino, Calif., according to the rankings, followed by Miami; Stockton, Calif.; and Detroit. The nation's best run city is Plano, Texas, followed by Madison, Wis.; Irvine, Calif.; and Lincoln, Neb.
Birmingham has a high sales tax because it has few other ways to raise revenue to run the city. You might be asking, “What about property taxes?” Well, according to an article from the "Which Way Forward?" series published by the Birmingham News in 2007, you can't have those in a neighborhood that goes from white to black: “Blight: 'It was a real nice neighborhood,” by Thomas Spencer, from the March 11, 2007 edition of the Birmingham News. I quote:
In 1965, Virgia Wallace’s parents paid $10,000 for their piece of the American dream, a two-story, four bedroom house in then-predominantly white Fountain Heights. Perched on the hill just north of downtown, the Wallace home had a view of the city skyline and beyond to Red Mountain. Wallace remembers her father walking to work at Loveman’s department store. “It was a real nice neighborhood,” Wallace said.
But the retail jobs left downtown, nearby industries shut down and the drain left holes in the community.
As years passed, Wallace, now 66 and an English teacher at Huffman High, watched families move away. Between 1980 and 2000, the census tract that includes her home lost 39 percent of its population. Paint peeled on the abandoned houses. Windows were broken. Porches slumped. The house across the street burned and wasn’t rebuilt, leaving a vacant lot of scraggly privet and tall winter-brown grass littered with wind blown paper and plastic bags.
An apartment complex up the street began renting to “a different kind of people,” Wallace said. They weren’t invested in the community. They sold drugs. The neighborhood became plagued with burglaries and violence. The older generation that stayed kept their houses neat, their yards trimmed, beds planted with flowers. But they also ornamented their windows and doors with burglar bars. In the early 1990s, Wallace fled the crime and blight that became the standard in neighborhoods across the inner city. She bought a house in Roebuck. After she left, the old home was broken into several times. Windows were broken, replaced with plywood. There didn’t seem any sense trying to sell it. “There wasn’t anyone interested in buying it,”she said.
Today, Wallace still owns the home. It has an assessed value of $11,300, just $1,300 above the price her parents paid 42 years ago,
Of course, this doesn’t take inflation into account. Because most journalists have no financial acumen, they can be forgiven for this transgression. Since the majority-white Fountain Heights went all-Black, we are told the house only appreciated in value by $1,300. But according to "The Inflation Calculator": what cost $10000 in 1965 would cost $65,085.24 in 2007. Also, if you were to buy exactly the same products in 2007 and 1965, they would cost you $10000 and $1553.07 respectively. To retain its value, that same house should cost over $65,000 today.
You are looking at an 83 percent drop in value from the days when Birmingham was still under white control, as compared to the value of the home in the post-civil rights era of Black government in The Magic City.
So you can't have taxes collected from business and corporations. Remember, this is a city that is banning one of the only growth industries it has—Title Loan or Payday stores. In 1999, Birmingham was home to six Fortune 500 companies, comparable to Los Angeles or Boston. Today, Birmingham is home to only one, Regions Bank.
Here is what is left unsaid: Retail jobs left downtown Birmingham because the source of capital, white people, left the city. Since the remaining Black population had no purchasing power—or credit (thus the need and reliance for payday and Title Loan stores instead of banks)—the commercial viability of the new, shiny, post-civil rights Black-run Birmingham was nonexistent.
But for Birmingham…
Let's look at a third article,
Birmingham is again a crime leader nationally, ranking 11th in homicide rate among cities of more than 100,000 people, and second overall in total crime rate.
The only city with a higher crime rate last year was St. Louis, Mo.
The city with the lowest crime rate in Alabama last year was Trussville, followed by Helena, Vestavia Hills, Mountain Brook, Pelham and Pleasant Grove.
Vestavia Hills, Mountain Brook and Pelham are where Birmingham’s “white flight” refugees settled and recreated the city they had lost.
But for Birmingham…
Let's look at a fourth article:
Carnella Greene Norman wins Jefferson County District Court Judge Place 3 race, Birmingham News, November 6, 2012.:
Carnella Greene Norman, who had resigned her job as a Birmingham municipal court judge a decade ago as part of a settlement in a racial discrimination lawsuit, won the race for Jefferson County District Court Judge Place 3 in today's general election.
Norman, a Democrat, defeated W. Davis Lawley, a former Birmingham drug court judge.
With nearly 98 percent of the votes counted, Norman had 143,531 votes or 52.5 percent, and Lawley had 129,977 votes, or 47.5 percent.
Norman was a Birmingham Municipal Court judge from 1991 to 2002, but resigned as part of a legal settlement in a racial discrimination lawsuit brought against her by a white employee.
Let's wait a second. Why was Judge Greene-Norman forced out in the first place?
According to Black Judge Sued For Reverse Discrimination [by Val Walton, Birmingham News, January 10, 2002]:
Birmingham Municipal Judge Carnella Norman, accused of ignoring a legal settlement requiring her to quit, has stepped down, according to a letter from her attorney included in federal court records. “Judge Norman has now retired and she is in compliance,” Birmingham lawyer Howard M. Miles wrote to plaintiff lawyer Susan Reeves in a letter dated Tuesday.
“As of January 7,2002, Judge Norman's employment with the City of Birmingham ceased, effective December 28, 2001,” Miles wrote.
In a sworn statement, one black court employee, the bailiff mentioned above, said Judge Norman made it clear to him that she did not like white people and did not want white employees working near her. He said he feared to be friendly toward white employees in Norman's presence, for fear of turning the judge against him.
A white lawyer stated under oath that she knows other white lawyers who charge their clients extra if they have to appear before Judge Norman, "because of her abusiveness."
Before she was forced to resign… the majority black Birmingham City Council passed a resolution praising Norman for "ensuring the dignity of the administration of justice."
Now of course, she’s back.
But for Birmingham…
You see, all white Americans, regardless of when or where they were born, bear the mark of Birmingham. Whites lack the moral authority to defend America when it comes to issues like immigration—legal or illegal—because of what happened in the city of Birmingham.
2013 will be an endless celebration of Birmingham, despite the fact that black citizens of the city are regularly featured on A&E’s show “The First 48” in ways the almost exclusively white citizens of, say, the white-flight suburb of Mountain Brook never are.
It’s funny—back in 2007, the initial bid to showcase the high (almost exclusively black) crime rate in Birmingham on the A&E’s hit show was shot down by then Mayor Bernard Kincaid. After all, why embarrass a city as symbolic as the so-called “Magic City” by showing the crime?
“Plans to feature Birmingham police officers in a cable TV reality crime series were pulled Tuesday afternoon at the last minute by Mayor Bernard Kincaid who said cameras could jeopardize ongoing investigations.
'It is not a go,' he said.
Crews were set to start filming today for segments of the A&E series "The First 48."
The mayor said Police Chief Annetta Nunn exceeded her authority when she agreed to allow crews to follow and film her officers. The show chronicles police work during the first 48 hours of a homicide. Kincaid said only the mayor can sign documents binding the city to agreements.
'The law department advised me that the police chief does not have that authority,' he said. City Attorney Tamara Harris Johnson said her office initially approved the contract, but a second review and concerns from Jefferson County District Attorney David Barber changed her mind.
'In light of being cautious, I think the citizens of Birmingham would not be served by entering into this arrangement,' Johnson said. 'With the homicide rate being as it is, the police should be allowed to do their job unfettered.'”
Reality denied for local police, by Joseph D. Bryant and Carol Robinson, Birmingham News, February 14, 2007
Viewers of “The First 48” know that the Birmingham city government—under embattled former Mayor Larry Langford—eventually relented and allowed the cameras to roll. Unfortunately, Birmingham detectives have found it hard to solve murders when a policy of ‘no snitching’ dominates the majority black culture.
Life in Birmingham in 2013 is far cry from that of notorious Police Chief Bull Connor’s Birmingham in 1963. Gone are the German Shepherds and water hoses to stop black Freedom Riders. In their place, a desperate effort to cut down on black crime on New Year’s Eve:
New Year's Eve is always a busy night, and last night was no different. Birmingham police arrested 13 people during "Operation Crackdown," an operation meant to curb celebratory gunfire in the city, according to the Birmingham Police Department.
Between the hours of 7:30 p.m. and 3 a.m., Birmingham police received 631 citizen reports of gunfire, and received 560 gunfire calls for service from the Shot-Spotter gunfire detection system. The Shot-Spotter system also logged 543 fireworks calls, according to the Birmingham Police.
More than 100 additional officers were on the streets of Birmingham last night to respond to those calls, and to discourage gunfire.
During a similar effort last year, Birmingham police responded to 2,441 calls for service between 7 p.m. Dec. 31 and 3 a.m. Jan 1.
Birmingham Police arrest 13, receive 600 citizen gunfire reports during New Year's gunfire crackdown, by Madison Underwood, Birmingham News, January 1, 2013
Sadly, extra police weren’t out in full force on November 30, 2012, when Mayor William Bell and his security detail were involved in a drive-by shooting on the streets of Birmingham [Investigation into shooting of 2 people involving Birmingham mayor's security detail now in ABI's hands, Birmingham News, November 30, 2012].
Yes, Mayor Bell and his security detail happened to be on the scene of yet another “random shooting” in Birmingham—nearly 75 percent black Birmingham—which isn’t that out of the ordinary, because this type of violence is just another day in the Magic City [Birmingham Mayor William Bell said he was not the target of a wild interstate shooting Friday night (video), Birmingham News, December 3, 2012]:
“This was not so much an event directed at me, just a random event that took place on the street. We just happened to be at the wrong place, at the wrong time," Bell said at a press conference at City Hall. "My person and my vehicle were not a target at all."
We believe you, Mr. Mayor.
After all, we’ve watched the many episodes of “The First 48” in Birmingham. We know just how common “random” violence is in contemporary Birmingham.
Still, although the Birmingham is one of America’s most violent cities, don't worry! Mayor Bell has a plan to make the city streets as safe as those before the revolution of 1963
Mayor William Bell has a plan. Rather, William Bell has an acronym:
He will battle crime throughout the city through project SAFE. He said so in a press conference this week, so it must be true. His plan is to make Birmingham and its citizens safe through interaction with police and fire departments, mainly through use of the words ...
Birmingham 'crime plan' is just an acronym looking for a life, Birmingham News, January 4, 2013
The key word in the acronym “SAFE” is the last one: ‘empowered.”
That perfectly describes black America since the events of Birmingham 1963.
But “empowerment” hasn’t led to new glory for the city of Birmingham. Or for Detroit, Baltimore, or the descendants of “The Great Migration” in Chicago, where the murder rate between 2003 and 2012 outpaced the number of killed in action in Operation Enduring Freedom (the war in Afghanistan) by more than double.
Yet we all live in this shadow of this anniversary.
Was it worth it?
So celebrate “Moving Forward” with Birmingham in 2013—City Hall even has a third-floor board room painted in a civil rights theme in honor of 1963! But please, please don’t actually ask for some proof of progress.
And certainly, don't speculate whether things are actually worse.
After all, in the post-Birmingham era, some questions must be left unasked.
Paul Kersey[Email him] is the author of the blog SBPDL, and has published the books SBPDL Year One, Hollywood in Blackface and Escape From Detroit, Opiate of America: College Football in Black and White and Second City Confidential: The Black Experience in Chicagoland. His latest book is The Tragic City: Birmingham 1963-2013 .