ALABAMA GETAWAY: The Political Imaginary and the Heart of Dixie

By Stewart, William H. | American Studies, January 1, 2013 | Go to article overview

ALABAMA GETAWAY: The Political Imaginary and the Heart of Dixie


Stewart, William H., American Studies


ALABAMA GETAWAY: The Political Imaginary and the Heart of Dixie. By Allen Tullos. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press. 2011.

Allen Tullos, a professor of American Studies at Emory University, is Bama-born and writes with great passion about the state on which he focuses here. Tullos finds little good in the Heart of Dixie and his chapter titles reflect this. Examples include "The Sez-You State," "In the Ditch with Wallace," "Oafs of Office," and "Invasions of Normalcy." The book contains some catchy phrases (the origins of which the author unfailingly cites when they are not of his own creation). When Roy Moore was re-nominated as Alabama chief justice in March 2012 (a position from which he had been removed nine years earlier) the voters were clearly adopting a "sez you!" stance toward federal Judge Myron Thompson as well Moore's own colleagues who had removed his offending Ten Commandments monument from the state judicial building. Surveys showed overwhelming support for public commandments displays and voters, although rejecting him in two runs for governor, were looking for just the right opportunity to say "sez you!" when Moore made the bid to get his old job back.

Tullos devotes more space to deplorable conditions in Alabama's lockups than any other policy arena. He wrote his undergraduate honors thesis on this subject at the University of Alabama in 1972. Alabama has been fined for the overcrowding of its jails-a problem that persists in a chronic way. Deaths in Alabama prisons are significantly higher than they would be if inmates had adequate medical care. Assaults also occur with intolerable regularity because of the large number of prisoners that each guard must supervise (a lower warden-to-inmate ratio than in any other state). When and if cons become ex-cons-Alabama is shown to be number one in the nation in meting out life sentences-their reintegration into society has been limited by many restrictions, including massive denials of the right to vote. …

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