Monday, March 14, 2011

Governor Pierce, the KKK, and a Poem for the Wave and the Lost

Governor Walter Pierce was supported by, and might in some sense be considered a friend of, the Klan.

On Wednesday at 7pm in Loucks Auditorium at the Library, John Ritter will be giving another talk, "The Klan (KKK) in Salem."
Historian John Ritter takes a look back to the days in the 1920s when the Ku Klux Klan was a powerful force in Salem and in Oregon, highlighting an era in which The Klan was a viable political and social force that dominated state politics and Salem’s social life. The program is free and open to the public. More information is available from John Ritter at
Here's a couple of relevant bits from the Governor's message to the Legislature, January 1923:
I have been saddened many times by finding that prominent men of this state behind closed doors are breaking the prohibition law. I ask for a higher sense of moral duty and for an awakening of the public conscience. We must one and all determine to drive liquor from our midst by making it so hard for the bootlegger to thrive that he will be glad to leave our state and take with him his nefarious business. Liquor venders cannot do business alone. I ask you for assistance in a continued effort to enforce the law. I do not want a state constabulary but I do want sufficient police agents to eliminate as far as possible violation of the prohibition act. I also ask that one-half of all the fines collected through enforcement of the state prohibition and narcotics laws be turned into a special fund, such fund to be used in enforcing the laws.
We should enact a law prohibiting the selling or leasing of land in Oregon to the Mongolian and Malay. European and Asiatic civilization can not amalgamate, and we can not and must not submit to the peaceful penetration of the Japanese or other Mongolian races.
Give a big f-u to the bigotry of Peirce and the KKK, and tip a pint of yummy, intoxicating beverage to the survivors and rebuilding effort in Japan.

As we write, a nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station appears to be a very real possibility. There's lots of other craziness, misfortune, and hate in the world. So create, and do not destroy.

Here's a misreading (your mileage may vary):
Sea Girls
by A. E. Stallings

for Jason

"Not gulls, girls." You frown, and you insist—
Between two languages, you work at words
(R's and L's, it's hard to get them right.)
We watch the heavens' flotsam: garbage-white
Above the island dump (just out of sight),
Dirty, common, greedy—only birds.
OK, I acquiesce, too tired to banter.

Somehow they're not the same, though. See, they rise
As though we glimpsed them through a torn disguise—
Spellbound maidens, wild in flight, forsaken—
Some metamorphosis that Ovid missed,
With their pale breasts, their almost human cries.
So maybe it is I who am mistaken;
But you have changed them. You are the enchanter.

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