Politique Diabolique Nov 3 2011
BLACK ATTACK
Lowdown takes a look under the hood.

Lots of info in this Lowdown published in November 1956, but the prestigious banner position is reserved for a U.S. Supreme Court justice who editors claim was a member of the racist organization the Ku Klux Klan. The man in question is Hugo Black, a career Democrat who served on the high court until 1971, and indeed had been a member of the Klan in Alabama. You probably already know this, but for those few who don’t we’ll note here that the Democratic Party was the more conservative party in the U.S. with regard to racial issues until Democratic President John F. Kennedy endorsed, and his Democratic successor President Lyndon B. Johnson signed, the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This event led to the cementing of Democrats as the preferred party for black voters and the defection of millions of conservative white voters to the Republican Party, radically shifting the political spectrum of 1960s America (though only with regard to race, since both parties have drifted rightward on virtually all other issues since then).

Anyway, despite the KKK’s racist agenda, and the fact that Black’s racist bona fides were pristine (as a senator he once filibustered an anti-lynching bill), his Klan membership may have been more strongly tied to the group’s anti-Catholic agenda. This in turn prompted him to become a leading defender of the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment: i.e., the separation of church and state. In short, his fear and hatred of Catholics led him to do everything he could to keep religion out of politics. Or so certain biographers claim. Much more revealing, perhaps, are Black’s own words on the subject: “I would have joined any group if it helped get me votes.” Uttered near the end of his life, the phrase confirms once again—to us, at least—that a politician is a construct, not a person. Basically, you can never know what any of them really believe, because they’ll say anything to win office. Some of the most successful ones present a mask upon which the various segments of the public can project any face they wish. Maybe that’s why Hugo Black felt so comfortable under a hood. 

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
March 02
1933—King Kong Opens
The first version of King Kong, starring Bruce Cabot, Robert Armstrong and Fay Wray, and with the giant ape Kong brought to life with stop-action photography, opens at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. The film goes on to play worldwide to good reviews and huge crowds, and spawns numerous sequels and reworkings over the next eighty years.
1949—James Gallagher Completes Round-the-World Flight
Captain James Gallagher and a crew of fourteen land their B-50 Superfortress named Lucky Lady II in Fort Worth, Texas, thus completing the first non-stop around-the-world airplane flight. The entire trip from takeoff to touchdown took ninety-four hours and one minute.
1953—Oscars Are Shown on Television
The 26th Academy Awards are broadcast on television by NBC, the first time the awards have been shown on television. Audiences watch live as From Here to Eternity wins for Best Picture, and William Holden and Audrey Hepburn earn statues in the best acting categories for Stalag 17 and Roman Holiday.
March 01
1912—First Parachute Jump Takes Place
Albert Berry jumps from a biplane traveling at 1,500 feet and lands by parachute at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri. The 36 foot diameter chute was contained in a metal canister attached to the underside of the plane, and when Berry dropped from the plane his weight pulled the canopy from the canister. Rather than being secured into the chute by a harness, Berry was seated on a trapeze bar. It's possible he was only the second man to accomplish a parachute landing, as there are some accounts of someone accomplishing the feat in California several months earlier.
1932—Lindbergh Baby Is Kidnapped
The twenty-month-old son of aviator Charles Lindbergh, Charles Augustus Lindbergh III, is kidnapped from the family home in East Amwell, New Jersey. Over two months later the toddler's body is discovered in woods a short distance from the home. A medical examination determines that he had died of a massive skull fracture. A German carpenter named Bruno Hauptmann is arrested, tried, and convicted for the crime. He is sentenced to death and executed in April 1936.
February 28
1953—Watson and Crick Unravel DNA
American biologists James D. Watson and Francis Crick tell their friends that they have determined the chemical structure of DNA. The formal announcement takes place in April following publication in Nature magazine. In 1968, Watson writes The Double Helix, a non-fiction account of not only the discovery of the structure of DNA, but the personalities, conflicts and controversy surrounding the work.
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