I am a native Georgian who came of age during the Civil Rights struggles of the 1960s. During the first 25 years of my life, politicians seeking public office in Georgia had to declare support for “segregation today, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.” Discrimination against blacks was a way of life.
The personification of this normalcy reached its zenith in Lester Maddox. He owned a restaurant in Atlanta. One day, a group of African-Americans sought entrance to his restaurant under provisions of the Civil Rights act of 1964, granting equal accommodation to all citizens. Maddox showed his opposition to the law by arming his employees with ax handles to block the blacks from entering.
The ax handle became a potent political symbol of Maddox’s opposition to de-segregation, and he used it to win election as governor in 1967.
I never thought that within my lifetime I would see a governor of Georgia worse than Lester Maddox. Brian Kemp has proven me wrong. Kemp has succeeded in boosting Maddox’s ranking.
I would demean myself by even bothering to write a rational criticism of Kemp’s decision to authorize the reopening of certain businesses, even as coronavirus gains strength in Georgia, and the state totally lacks the tools needed to allow a gradual relaxation of social distancing without creating an even worse pandemic than we have now.
I simply cite those who have already made the case.
From Sunday to Monday evening, 86 people in Georgia died of Covid-19. There is no widespread testing for the virus in the state, which epidemiologists say is necessary for safe reopening.
And even more ominous: