Immigration, Segregation, and How a White Supremacist Changes
My birth year was 1978. I’m no history buff, but I thought I knew the important facts on former Alabama Governor George Wallace.
I saw the pictures and the video of Wallace as he stood in the school doorway. I heard his catchphrase: “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, and segregation forever.”
What else is there to know? To me, George Wallace is one poster child of racism, white supremacy, and segregation.
George Wallace started out as a racist but took it to an explicit level after he lost a campaign. George Wallace then made segregation the centerpiece of his platform. He played on the resentment and racism of the white working class to win again and again.
And, Donald Trump has done the same with immigration. One of Trump’s famous lines is about people from Mexico and what he says they bring to the United States.
Immigration is Donald Trump’s segregation. Trump’s border is another form of segregation to keep brown people away.
The cries to “build that wall” are the current day version of keep ‘Alabama white’ and segregation.
George Wallace and Donald Trump also have an affinity for fights.
Wallace was a former boxer and Trump has said how he liked to fight from childhood. Wallace too was a combative counterpuncher in the way Trump describes himself.
Wallace had a tough guy approach to politics and media relations too.
His appeal to white voters came from his ability to speak like the everyday white person. Wallace said what they wanted to hear and spoke to their racial fears.
Both Trump and Wallace were “law and order” candidates.
But some say Wallace is the founder of “backlash politics.” Wallace learned to code his policies in terms that didn’t scream about race. And, much of what we see in Trump are the watered down and trickle-down ideologies and talking points of George Wallace.
George Wallace was power hungry, he would say and do anything to win. The cheers from the crowds were irresistible to him.
Of Wallace, it’s said he wanted little to do with governing and administration. You could say Wallace loved to campaign but had a weak stomach for the details. And that’s what we see in Trump, a president whose briefings are bullet points and beyond brief.
Trump’s no political wonk and neither was Wallace, but both understood white voter fears about race and played them for wins.
Wallace’s speechwriter Asa Carter was a well-connected and influential klansman. In the Trump administration, Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller taken together are an amalgamation that amounts to Asa Carter.
While Trump claims to be a winner, Wallace wasn’t always a winner in politics. Wallace had many political losses but his voters didn’t care. It mattered to them that Wallace stood up for them and gave a fight.
And, someone could say the same of Trump voters. It doesn’t matter if Trump wins, or if he’s right about his fights. Trump voters just want Trump to fight, fight, fight.
History tells us that Wallace never became president, but he became so influential that he ran for president three times. Wallace terrified former President Nixon. Nixon did what he could to slow Wallace’s growth.
But Nixon didn’t have to work too hard or too long on Wallace. In 1972, George Wallace became paralyzed when he was shot five times.
For the rest of his days, Wallace was in pain and moved by wheelchair. His first wife died, his second wife divorced him, and he lost future bids for presidential office.
It was during his pain and suffering that Wallace drew into his faith and he changed. He called his enemies and his former punching bags to apologize.
Congressman John Lewis says Wallace apologized and confessed to him like Lewis was his priest.
Wallace had such a turnaround he renounced his segregationist ways and asked for forgiveness. And Black people believed Wallace! He became the Governor of Alabama again in 1983 with the Black vote.
And that’s where the similarities between Trump and Wallace end.
Wallace’s repentance is no small deal. Wallace is the man who Dr. King said had blood on his hands for the deaths in Alabama.
With Wallace, it was time, his faith, and his personal suffering that spun him around. Those are the elements that took a racist from a lot to a little.
Is any of that possible for Donald Trump?
Trump says he’s a man of faith but he’s never asked his God for forgiveness. Trump has yet to suffer any loss in a public and significant way to bring him to his knees like Wallace.
Trump, who is unapologetic, lacks a conscience, any conviction, or empathy.
As a person, George Wallace is better than Donald Trump. That’s the state of the presidency today. A man with less moral aptitude than George C. Wallace is in the White House.
And while it may be unthinkable to have George Wallace as a President of the United States, we have pieces of him in Donald Trump.
George Wallace is still in power today, except it’s not the George Wallace that’s capable of change. Donald Trump is George Wallace without an evolution or any recognition of his faults and flaws.
And, that George Wallace in the White House is very dangerous.
Black civil rights lawyer, J. L. Chestnut said he forgave George Wallace, but he’d never forget. In 2000, Chestnut asked how a demagogue, like George Wallace, who insulted millions of Black people on television daily, could rise like he did.
That’s a good question, and we must ask ourselves the same. But, I guess we know the answer to that question.
So, the only question that remains is what will we do? And whom will we choose in our next elections?
Often the options before us are bad and we feel forced to pick the lesser of the evils.
But, we need less evil in the world. We need a world with less bad character and characters. We need a world with less suffering. And, we need a world with less harm.
We need the lesser of the evils.
Take note— there’s nothing wrong with choosing less evil.