Carroll Dale Short

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Reaching into the (Electronic) Mail Bag

By Dale Short

Momentous change has just taken place in the field of journalism.

Last week at a meeting in Phoenix, the Associated Press announced that there's no longer such a thing as e-mail. Hereafter, the sainted AP Style Guide will use the term without the hyphen: email.

Email, to me, sounds like the name of a lesser-known Old Testament prophet, but that's neither here nor there.

What matters is that the AP's big news kicks off, with a bang, my new feature: “Reaching into the (E) Mail Bag,” featuring comments from readers about the column. Up first:

“Mr. Short,

“I read in your Daily Mountain Eagle column on March 21 your less than flattering comment on Governor Wallace. Frankly, I would gladly accept the likes of a Governor Wallace in office again.

“His rise in national politics was more due to his stand on self-government, law and order, and, Vietnam than race issues. His strong rhetoric and actions against federal intrusion still ring today--all the way from Reagan to Arizona. The race issue has always plagued the South, overshadowing the far more critical issues mentioned already.

“But, Wallace did repent of these failings. I can say Wallace would have served the country better than Johnson or Nixon. We've yet to recover from Johnson's debacle in Vietnam and Nixon's lies.

“Yes, I would like to have him back, if just to hear his way with words.


* * *

Dear B.C.,

You make some excellent points.

I got to spend time around Wallace when I was a wet-behind-the-ears newspaper reporter. I thought he was a brilliant person, an excellent administrator, and an old-fashioned gentleman. Though I disagreed with him on many political topics, he did a lot of good things for Alabama. For instance, I think he did more for education (junior college system) and medicine (UAB, the Lurleen Wallace Cancer Center, etc.) in the state than any governor we've had before or since.

And for my money, he was one of the most gifted public speakers I've ever heard. Right up there with Billy Graham and Martin Luther King, Jr.

And as you mention, Wallace did repent. I remember our family watching a documentary about him on Alabama Public Television. It showed him on a speaking tour of black churches throughout the state where he apologized, in person, to the people he had wronged with his virulent “Segregation today, tomorrow, and forever!” campaign.

The part of the documentary I recall the best was a scene near the end. The reporter was interviewing some of the church members outside after Wallace's talk, and an elderly deacon said, “When somebody says, 'I'm sorry for what I did, brother. Will you forgive me?', you're talking a Baptist's language, right there.”

I remember looking around and seeing that my Baptist grandfather was dabbing at his eyes with his handkerchief.

“Amen,” he said to himself.

And that was that.

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