the amenities, and never used swear words. I abided by this world’s rules as best I could on those occasions when I found myself caught up in its doings with no way to escape. The other world was that of Snookie Bates: the poor blacks and the poor whites of South Austin who eked out a living chopping cedar, making charcoal, and doing menial work; a world that did not involve churchgoing and observing social amenities; a world outside the bounds of respectability. Faulk’s writing gets much of its satirical and emotional energy from its permanent recognition of the gulf that divides and connects these two worlds,’ class-divided and class-bound. The pieCes collected here, whether lightly humorous character sketches or scathing satires of racism and tyranny, always sustain a perspective that includes the two worlds yet the voice itself arises from the underside, from the viewpoint of those who live, literally or figuratively, “down on the creek.” Sometimes it is directly, as in “Old Man Moss,” when the dignity and taciturnity of the county centenarian defy all attempts of the local bigshots to make a spectacle of him. More often it is indirectly, condemning the “respectables” out of their own mouths, as when Miss Effie McDoo’s husband explains the real consequences of desegregation: He said, “Don’t you know there are no more Uncle Cy’s? That Supreme Court has gone and passed laws about people voting and having to go to school together and drinking from the same water fountain. But we know it ain’t got nothing to do with people going to school together. It’s got to do with not being able to get darkies to work for seventy-five cents a day no more.” I do not expect to discover a more eloquent exposition of real foundations of racism and contemporary oppression than the tale of Miss Effie McDoo. Faulk has a reputation for somewhat gentle humor, but the selections here that deal directly with racial hatred, particularly “A Glorious Fourth,” a vigilante’s account of his brutal participation in a raid on a black community, are as unforgiving and unforgettable as sections of Huckleberry Finn. Faulk touches on many topics in this book: the usual Texas anecdotes and foibles, LBJ and Vietnam, Nixon and Watergate, nuclear state terrorism, and on all he is delightful and eloquent. But he reserves special attention and satiric anger for the persistent American curse of racism, honoring well the memory the world of Snookie Bates. In addition to the comic and fictional pieces, the book collects as well several more straightforward essays on favorite topics: nuclear waste, American history, the Bill of Rights. Here also are two black church sermons recorded long ago by Faulk for his master’s thesis one hears their rhythms elsewhere in his own writing and an extended journal-essay of a recent visit to Cuba. The latter is one of the most interesting and illuminating pieces, especially valuable in the current atmosphere of jingoistic antiCommunism and Reaganite propaganda, and it confirms Faulk’s most important ideological principle: an open mind. Even when swept up in the fury of McCarthyism, he reminded his lawyer, Louis Nizer, that the law protects all opinions, whatever their political origin. This was my greatest gift from the struggle I had gone through. I under stood why James Madison conceived the First Amendment as the jewel in our crown, written and nailed into the basic law of the land, the guarantee that opinions we loathe and despise would be defended and protected with the same force as those we cherish and love. No other nation had ever dreamed of this. This is our genius. Faulk paid very dearly and undeservedly for that proudly honored “gift”; he finds it unremarkable that his experience should have left him no bitterness, but such equanimity is exemplary evidence of a large and generous spirit. Texans, prone as we are to the braggadocio of Cousin Ed Snodgrass, can claim him as our genius; could he be bottled he would soon become the real National Beer of Texas, rich and burnished as Shiner Bock. Readers will have to settle instead for this too-short collection of his work, which together with Fear On Trial, his chronicle of his battle against the blacklist, is an indispensable document of the real American heritage he honors so well. AFEW WEEKS AGO, during the annual “Round-Up” Parade which marks the close of the spring term at the University of Texas, a group representing the Gay and Lesbian Students Association was jeered by the crowd, and then assaulted with bottles, cans, and other debris. Luckily, although one person required treatment, no one was seriously injured, in part because the driver of the gay students’ car quickly left the parade. The president of the U.T. Students’ Association denounced the mob attack, as did the Daily Texan, and the letters column was filled with charges, counter-charges, and flagrant bigotry for several days thereafter. But as of this writing, there has been no official response none from university officials, and no investigation of the incident but that of a task force set up by the gay students themselves. One wonders, of course, how the university might have reacted had, say, the Texas Cowboys been the victims of a similar attack no doubt with the vigor one associates with the City of Austin’s defense of the Ku Klux Klan. But then it seems that the university administration would like gay students simply to disappear, as it isn’t willing to acknowledge they exist: when asked to comment about proposed anti-discriminatory legislation which will eventually reach his desk, U.T. regent Robert Baldwin responded, “I don’t believe in gays and homosexuals.” Such is the dominion of classical knowledge at the University of the First Class, where “Greek” means neither Socrates nor Sappho, but fledgling good ol’ boys who believe in Coors and cattle prods. I was reminded of the significance and Some People Have More Rights Than Others By Michael King THE TIMES OF HARVEY Directed by Robert Epstein STREETWISE Directed by Martin Bell Based on material by Mary MILK and Richard Schmiechen Ellen Mark THE TEXAS OBSERVER 17
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