<img alt=”A ring of men in white hoods standing around a fire holding torches.”> *
Perhaps it’s wrong to reuse a title. When I first coined this on The Wet Bank Guide it was to taunt both then-mayor of New Orleans Ray Nagin and the white ring that binds it.
The phrase came back to me completely out of that context after spending Thursday afternoon watching the Tennessee legislature. In the original sense I meant the old white money men of New Orleans and in some part the white suburbs. In this new context it is the City surrounded by white suburbs circled by the rural counties. There is a siege underway.
I am about of an age with the concept of a New South: the Civil Rights era was my infancy; I was old enough to be aware of who and what the Black Panthers were and that Chief Giarrusso had a tank; my first political experience was being dragooned into dropping literature for Moon “The Coon” Landrieu around Robert E. Lee Boulevard; I voted Socialist Workers Party but Jimmy Carter was my first president.
When I jumped from journalism to politics 37 years ago because I wanted to take a turn in the great game, I was handed a thickish folder of all the clippings and legal proceedings against the Reagan-era Republicans trying to suppress the black vote in Atlanta and told to be ready to help our candidate reply when it was his turn.
Bill Clinton was the last gasp of that New South, the last man to rally the disaffected white and the Black vote into a coalition across that South, even as the Dixiecrats slipped over into the GOP but kept all the money in town. He repaid the Dixiepubs handsomely by continuing Reagan’s work of plucking out brick by brick the New Deal.
After the dreary decades of Reagan Bush Clinton Bush, Obama was a briefly flaring bright light. I got up to vote early before going to work and found the line of impeccably shined shoes and glorious crowns of the people who used to pass my house on 4th Street NE in Washington DC when I live next block to a twice-on-Sunday Black Baptist Church, spotless unhappy children included.
I remember the tableau at Serio’s Restaurant on St. Charles on Inauguration Day, the old men who I’m sure no longer lived in the city hunched up against the counter opposite the TV, leaning backwards and aghast as at some Renaissance horror. Behind them was the Black woman who packed and served the lunches, the only one working, smiling beatifically.
I was reminded Thursday that the Dixie-pubs did not go away but grew stronger with their torchlight crusades. They have roused the entire countryside against the cities, where their grandfathers wisely trapped the unruly foe. And the South shall rise again, bolstered by the West the Missouri Compromise once denied them.
I may have a black flag for a heart but it is not a dark heart, not after hearing those two young gentlemen from Tennessee. Justin Jones was an unabashed razor and Justin J. Pearson gave them Holy Hell chapter by verse with a stick much thicker than his thumb. And then pointed out to his oppressors that expulsion for their alleged offense was not even in the House rules.
Tally Ho, Motherfuckers!
Here in Louisiana we watch the news from Florida and contemplate our own Orbán-obsessed madman leading for governor. The pathetic Democratic nominees wants to build bridges to people who only blow them up and everything on the other side as well.
I think I’ll close with a quote from one of my favorite movies: Bulworth; a thought to carry us through the days ahead.
“…you got to be a spirit; don’t be no ghost.”
— Rastaman the Griot
* Gboard dictation and WordPress conspired to turn “ring of men” in the alt text above to Orangemen. How Odd.
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