Letter from Alabama AG to head of the KKK: "Kiss my ass"

This succinct note from Bill Baxley, Attorney General of Alabama in 1970, to the Grand Dragon of the KKK, is admirable in its brevity, forcefulness, and clarity. Letters of Note tells the story:

In 1970, shortly after being elected Attorney General of Alabama, 29-year-old Bill Baxley reopened the 16th Street Church bombing case — a racially motivated act of terrorism that resulted in the deaths of four African-American girls in 1963 and a fruitless investigation, and which marked a turning point in the Civil Rights Movement. Baxley's unwavering commitment to the case attracted much hostility, particularly from local Klansmen, and in 1976 he received a threatening letter of protest from white supremacist Edward R. Fields — founder of the "National States' Rights Party" and "Grand Dragon" of the New Order Knights of the Ku Klux Klan — in which he was accused of reopening the case for tactical reasons.

Kiss my ass (via Neatorama)


          1. Modern chiropractors get much better training in anatomy than their predecessors did, and I’ve been to some who are seriously good at physical therapy and balance-related problems.  That doesn’t mean they don’t also get training in woo-woo nonsense, or think that shining blue laser lights at your skin can reduce underlying muscle pain by mechanisms that sound much more scientific than “the placebo effect”, but to say that it’s “never” medicine is highly incorrect.

      1. Is it just my tiny field-of-view, or are a lot of so-called “alternative medicine” practicioners, uhm, more “conservative” in their political views than the average recipient of “alternative” treatment?

  1. Very nice, and quite appropriate for the context, but I’m afraid for sheer genius it still doesn’t quite top:

    Attached is a letter that we received on November 19, 1974. I feel that you should be aware that some asshole is signing your name to stupid letters.

    1. Apparently “Dr.” Fields is “Not Dead Yet”, is still pushing hatred against Jews and other people, and in the early 90s renamed the remains of his NSRP as the “America First Party”.  (It’s not the same as the 1940s isolationist “America First Party” or the 2002 Reform-Party-leftovers “America First Party”, which is also fairly right-wing and isolationist but not a hate group.)

  2. Pretty brave, too. This was back in the day when the KKK was still out actively murdering people instead of mostly just hosting annual get-togethers for cranky old bigots at run-down hunting lodges.

  3. I’m still not sure I understand the KKK. They wanted African Americans to be their slaves again? Or they just wanted them dead? I should read up on it I guess.

    1. According to their current leadership, they don’t hate ethnic or religious minorities at all… they just love white people!

      It’s like how you show a girl you really like how you feel by burning crosses on the lawns of all the other girls in the neighborhood.

    2. I think the motives vary from one individual to another. Some want African Americans to be slaves again, hence the acts of violence intended to prevent African Americans from becoming “uppity”, and some want the population of the United States (if not the world) to be exclusively Anglo-Saxon and Protestant.

      In the early 1980’s a Nashville, Tennessee journalist named Jerry Thompson went undercover to investigate the Klan by becoming a member. His investigation was kind of a bust, actually, because he discovered the Klan was not monolithic, it was poorly organized, and even though they held some pretty offensive views the Klan members he met didn’t do that much. What had once been a very dangerous and very powerful organization was surprisingly toothless.

      1. What had once been a very dangerous and very powerful organization was surprisingly toothless.

        Often literally as well as figuratively.

        1. I’m quoting this from memory. Does anyone know who said it?

          “The Klan’s membership consists of FBI agents and gas station attendants, and you can tell who the FBI agents are because they pay their membership dues.”

        2. Reminds me of a documentary on neo-nazi groups in America. It was a parade of dudes who hung out in their plywood trailers, with a dozen dogs and one or two really dumb women in the background, talking tough and offering ‘guidance’ of some sort to younger dudes with equally exciting lives. It ended up being absolutely hilarious.

          1. Still, do not underestimate the power based on their belief. Even a single Nazi might carry in him/herself the f**cking germ to infest a people with dumbf*cked ideas about (e.g. racial) superiority. And do not underestimate the level of stupidity in yourself, and your neighbors (including me),  when dealing with a thread like that. It needs a very different “Stand your ground” policy to interfere with an angry mob or even single radicals when encountering them in everyday life.

          2. Oh I don’t underestimate the damage this nonsense does to the world, but you’d have to be made out of stone to not crack at the juxtaposition of the word ‘superiority’ with dirty wife-beaters and strays eating out of trash cans. I laughed because my face would have been black and blue from facepalming.

          3. I think I saw that one too.
            To me it was just sad and pathetic.

            I almost wanted to reply, “Look around you!  Do you think your master plan is going well??”

    3. Think of a person who is passionate about states rights, but is against a state’s right to allow gay marriage or medicinal marijuana. Think of a person who insists he’s not racist, but who believes America is threatened by multiculturalism and changing demographics. Think of a person who believes Obama is Muslim, but also believes he has a black supremacist United Church of Christ pastor. Think of a person who believes America is a Christian nation, and people of other religions belong in other countries. Think of a person who views any challenge to that worldview as an attack warranting “self defense.”

      They’re still around, but without the sheets and the license to kill.

      1. Think of a person who is passionate about states rights, but is against a state’s right to allow gay marriage or medicinal marijuana.

        I think a lot of these types are cool with medicinal marijuana. It is after all how your neoconfederate types (Paul, Johnson etc.) look “hip” and “cool” to confused voters and ideally peel away votes from Democrats, rather than Republicans.

        1. I forget who it was, but somebody a couple of years back who was writing about the right-wing hate group movements said that crazy right-wingers like their recreational marijuana just as much as left-wingers do.  Gets you wasted about as well as moonshine, easier to grow and make money with, and if the Federal Revenuers don’t like it, you can still shoot them the way grandpa did when they came for his still, or you can at least shoot the bull with your buddies about how you would shoot the Feds if they came for your stuff.

        2. You’re entirely mischaracterizing the Libertarian movement.  That’s not to say that we don’t have our share of right-wing crazies, because if you’re a disgruntled third party movement you’ll always get crazies who think they like you, or that Republicans haven’t been getting way too much influence on the party, especially since 9/11 turned a lot of previously sane people crazy.  But the origins of the party were in people like classical liberal John Hospers and some of the former YAF Goldwater kids, and legalized marijuana and opposition to the draft and most wars have always been core values for the Libertarians.  (To some extent you’re getting confused because the young hippies who started the party are now old cranky hippies who don’t always bother complaining about how the Randroids aren’t any fun, because we’ve all had those same debates over and over again.) 

          I worked on Ron Paul’s campaign back in the 80s (but wasn’t going to join the hopelessly corrupt Republican Party to support him this past election.)  He was always a bit more Republican than most of the LP, never did agree with the rest of us on immigration as a core freedom, and as far as I can tell he hasn’t really been following economic trends since the early 80s and is becoming increasingly concerned about how people need to get off his lawn.  But as a medical doctor, he thinks anybody who wants to restrict the use of medicines for reasons of political correctness is evil, and he’s also said that Prohibition was bad and the Drug War was worse for as long as I’ve been around him. 

          I haven’t paid as much attention to Gary Johnson, but he first became nationally known as a Republican governor who thought marijuana should be legal, which is the kind of independent leave-me-alone attitude you expect to find in the Mountain States, and too bad if the Reagan/Bush-type Republicans didn’t like it.

          1. Yes yes, we all know the Libertarian movement is about the freedom to dispense large blocks of verbiage.

    4. They wanted and want minorities to “know their place” via different means, most that involve some form of violence and control.

      They also want money, and to make a living off the hicks. The two are not at odds.

    5. actually they want the union to come through and whoop their Neanderthal asses again since we didn’t bother to finish them off the first time and since then they live like rats

    6. Who says both goals must be mutually exclusive?

      It was more of an, “African Americans are stupid and ignorant sub-human ‘animals’, who deserve no rights and are not equals.  They are constantly plotting to destroy descent society, rape white women, steal and murder.  The natural order is for them to be subservient and under tight control (through fear, violence and intimidation) all the time, or preferably, sent back to Africa.”

      Now add a generous helping of communist conspiracies and alleged Jewish control of the government and media.

      I am sure I have missed a few things, but that pretty much encapsulates a large proportion of how the Klan viewed the world back then.

      The current generation are not (usually) that blatantly violent and extreme. A ‘kinder… gentler’ Klan, you could say. Today they usually espouse views that they do not hate minorities, but rather, they simply do not wish to associate with them and want to express the great pride they have for the white race. (And I have a bridge I can sell you if you believe that.)

      While their communist and Jewish conspiracies still remain in the back of their minds, the Klan has lost nearly all of the power and influence they once had. Their stench remains however, and society should never grow complacent that new iterations will not show up once again. Getting large numbers of people to completely lose their empathy for others is all too easy.

  4. The scare-quotes around “Dr” are great. I think I’d going to use them every time I quote an author who feels the need to put “PhD” after his name.

    1. You share with Mr. Baxley the ability to type sarcastic punctuation. It appears, however, that your sense of when to do so is not quite as astute.

    2. Yeah I enjoyed that too… however I did not enjoy it very much when a professional journalist used it incorrectly. The National States Rights Party, and the Grand Dragon are both real things, and that’s really what they are called – therefore no need for quotes. I love it when this construct is used correctly, and in particular when correct usage is also humorous, but it’s being used way too often these days, and all too often incorrectly.

    3. My father was a research chemist, and in his field the only people who got called “Dr.” were actual medical doctors or people who’d gotten their PhD recently enough they still insisted on it (though the older chemists who also all had doctorates would them to get over themselves if they kept it up too long.)  Using the title when you wanted to intimidate bureaucrats was fine, of course, but it didn’t work very well for the company’s own bureaucrats.

    4. There was a Wall Street Journal article quite some time ago about how physicians arrogated the title “Doctor” from their teachers in college. You might need to look up the word “arrogated.”

      1. Certainly in Britain the vast majority of medical doctors are only called “Doctor” by courtesy, as the degree that allows you to practice medicine is an MBBS which is a bachelor’s degree not a doctoral degree (though some have earned a PhD or MD so have the right to the title). In fact, consultant surgeons traditionally are called “Mr.” (or other titles if female) not “Dr.”

        On the other hand, I know people with (non-medical) PhD’s who deliberately don’t use the title, as they don’t want to be expected to help if they’re on a plane, someone has a heart attack and the crew see “Dr. so-and-so” on the passenger list.

    5. I used to repair computers out of my home and once got an answering machine message from a guy who led off the call with a really self-important “This is Doctor Smith”, and when I returned his call, couldn’t resist saying “This is Computer Repairman Vosburg returning your call”…

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