My wife and kids came to Alabama on an overnight train to Birmingham, something she really wanted to do. We met them downtown, near the train station.
The freeway drive up from Montgomery is worth doing, if only for a large sign reading “America, Love It or Leave It” right across I-65 from a giant Confederate flag. It’s only ironic if you assume that the author of the America sign had no problem with the secessionist flag and didn’t want to secede.
Maybe that assumption is wrong! He could be making a profoundly anti-racist statement!
Well, we can find out! Turns out the gentleman who put the sign up was named Billy Newell, a former construction magnate. He also put up a nearby sign reading “Go to church or the devil will get you.” In most of the country that would pin him as a major-league Republican. But this is Alabama! Going to church from fear of the devil puts you right in the median.
Billy Newell, many will be surprised to find, was a big backer of Lucy Baxley in her 2006 gubernatorial race. Baxley, a Democrat, campaigned in a losing race for a one-dollar raise in the minimum wage and went on to become the last Democratic elected statewide official in Alabama during her stint on the Public Service Commission. In other words, he had some serious liberal leanings that seem incongruous to those of us from the parts of the country that have never tried to secede.
So you know, I can’t discount that the sign really was intended as a giant eff you to the backers of the traitorious slaveholders’ banner. Which would include the governor who defeated Ms. Baxley. Take that, America-haters!