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Esquire Gets Patriotic About... George Wallace?!

black and white photo of George Wallace wagging his fingerCharles P. Pierce's already obnoxious "36 Reasons it's (Still) Good to be an American Man" slide show for Esquire (Steak! Highways! Football! The word "self-evident"! These things are for men!) crosses the line into offensive territory by listing George Wallace as reason #34. Wallace, if you'll recall, was the Alabama governor and presidential candidate in the 1960s best known for being pro-segregation. USA! USA! Wait—what?

I know this is probably just link bait, and that Pierce quasi-justifies his choice by saying "George Wallace was one of us, too, goddamn him," but including George Wallace in a list of reasons to get a patriotic boner for the US is not cool. You know what else isn't cool? Listing him RIGHT AFTER Martin Luther King, Jr. I'm no "American Man," but this kind of flippant racism certainly doesn't make me feel "proud to be a part of it all."

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Comments

12 comments have been made. Post a comment.

Errr, I don't think Pierce

Errr, I don't think Pierce was exactly lobbing high praise at Wallace there...

Praise or not...

Whether Pierce is overtly praising Wallace or not, he included him on a list called "36 Reasons It's (Still) Good to Be an American Man," a list that includes things like butter and Willie Nelson (two things that I, along with American Men, find to be awesome). Even if he's trying to be controversial with that particular entry it still implies that Wallace is a reason why the US is great—and it's giving Wallace a pass that he doesn't deserve.

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Pierce

and that Pierce quasi-justifies his choice by saying "George Wallace was one of us, too, goddamn him,"

Is this really what Pierce said? Did you ask him?

It is.

The words "George Wallace was one of us, too, goddamn him" appear with Wallace's picture in the slideshow Pierce made, so yes, he said that.

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Unless Palin or Bachmann have

Unless Palin or Bachmann have started blogging at Bitch, I expect a better grasp of history. Please start here. http://www.neh.gov/news/humanities/2000-03/wallace.html

Wallace travelled a path similar to many white southerners, ending it by repudiating his former pro-segregation views. He was most certainly one of us.

And Wallace is not listed directly after Martin Luther King. Please also try to get your facts straight.

While the author didn't write

While the author didn't write about some of the more positive aspects of Wallace, she may not have found them particularly redeeming. (I'd agree) What written about him was incorrect? That he is best known for being pro-segregation seems pretty accurate. While he may have attempted to make amends, I'm willing to bet that won't be what comes to mind for most Americans when they're asked what they remember about George Wallace (If they even know who he is.) Whether you agree or not, I imagine you can see why people might find it distasteful to list someone who "makes a conscious decision to give up his ideals and embraces racism" among the reasons it's great to be an American man.

I do agree with you that it would have been more accurate to say he was listed alongside or among M.L. King rather than right after. However, I don't feel having James Madison as a buffer between the two made the contrast any less significant.

I understand this view coming

I understand this view coming from Portland. But come to Alabama and ask African Americans what they think of Wallace. Obviously everyone knows who he is, and you will get an overwhelmingly positive response. It is not well known outside the South that Wallace repudiated his segregationist views while still in office (he essentially returned to his roots) and his last term as governor saw many progressive measures introduced. Out of office, Wallace regularly spoke out on behalf of these causes. Maybe Southerners, or at least Southern African Americans, are just more forgiving than other Americans.

Sure, Alabama is the whipping boy of northern liberals. But the way I took the column was that Wallace was one of us because he travelled the path that many white southerners did. The blogger's short-sighted snarkiness detracts from what is indeed a great American story.

Ask some other Alabamians

Ask some other Alabamians (especially those of color), and they will tell you that they detest George Wallace. I don't know what Alabama you live in, but, as an Alabamian and a student at the University of Alabama, I can say that the legacy of racism that he perpetuated is still alive and well today. Just this year an African American student had racial slurs shouted at him while walking down Sorority Row.

If opportunistic displays of racism makes the writer of the article proud to be an American man, it only proves that we still live in a very racist culture.

Blacks LIKE wallace NOT

I'm black, I'm from Alabama. I know wallace, I'm repulsed by wallace. As is every black person I know here in Alabama. No blacks in Alabama even like him a little. I don't know where you are getting your info that blacks in Alabama think positive of him. How could we, hell the man wanted us dead! Sure we forgave him, but forgiving the man's dirty deeds towards us in not the same as liking him. We are not that dumb, we don't cuddle with positive thoughts and fond memories this man who wanted us destroyed. And did destroy by proxy so so many blacks.

Do not feed the trolls!

Do not feed the trolls!

It's pretty easy to see where

It's pretty easy to see where this writer was coming from. If Esquire can't think of ONE extra good reason other than a (positive OR negative) mention of a famous bigot, that's page bait or just plane ignorant of just how detestable racism is. Or, did they forget to add "white" before American?

Anyway-- I don' t understand men's magazines' fascination with validating men by these lists. The people/things listed don't validate men any more than they validate women, because the readers didn't actually do anything. And that Designing Women comment just can't be forgiven. ;)

Pierce/Esquire/George Wallace

Your comments, as well as the Esquire web posting, were brought to my attention by Alex Alvarez at Mediaite. I was surprised to learn that excerpts from a 2001 list I complied for the print edition of Esquire had been included, edited and added to in a recent web slideshow. The list, a post 9/11 reflection, was complied with input from other Esquire writers and editors and was promoted on the December 2001 cover as “162 Greatest Things About America.” It included not only celebratory but ironic observations. Anyone interested in the original piece can find it here http://www.esquire.com/cover-detail?year=2001&month=12# and here http://www.esquire.com/ESQ1201-DEC_AMERICA?click=main_sr