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Dan Carter, author, on
Wallace's opposition

Dan Carter Q: Can we hold Wallace accountable for the violence in this period?

A: George Wallace always insisted that he was opposed to violence. Every time that he spoke in a public platform, he said he was. But in 1963, I think we can see the way in which his public insistence that he was against violence conflicts with his private action. George Wallace had always thrived on confrontation. He had opposed Frank Johnson in 1959. He opposed Kennedy in the Spring of '63. But in the Fall of '63, when the integration of public schools began, Wallace once again tried to stage a confrontation. And although publicly he insisted that we had to maintain law and order, privately he began giving a kind of wink and a nod to some of the most, I mean, sociopaths is the only word to describe them: Ed Fields, the American Nazi Party, right-wing Klan elements, working through Bull Connor and some of his supporters. What he really wanted to do was to raise a little hell -- enough of a disturbance, mini-riots in Birmingham -- that he could use this as an excuse to intervene and stop the integration of public schools. Well, the problem is, you can't give a wink and a nod to these people and then really control them. These are not controllable nutcases. They're uncontrollable nutcases; that's the very nature of these right-wing violent elements in southern society. You certainly can't say that George Wallace wanted anybody to be hurt. He showed this kind of extraordinary callous disregard for the consequences of his own action.

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