Paul V. Coates -- Confidential File, June 17, 1959
June 17, 2009 | 2:00 pm
Orval Faubus Adds to the Ad AbsurdumI know I'll hate myself in the morning. But right now, I can't resist the temptation to confess that I really admire Gov. Orval Faubus.
Can't help it. I just do.
You've just got to like a lad who pulled himself up by his own meager bootstraps. In a way, he's actually an inspiration for all of us.
He's irrefutable proof that there's still a chance in this world for everybody. If he could make it to the top, any of us can.
Old Orval wasn't one of them "privileged" people. He's just a boy from back in the piney woods of Arkansas. Never had a silver spoon in his mouth or a humane thought in his head.
But he made it clear to the Arkansas executive mansion. And he did it by dint of sheer, blinding ignorance.
Now he's a famous man. His name is known around the world. He's interpreted, inaccurately, but widely, as a typical example of American thinking.
His vicious spouting has made him secretly loved by Communists everywhere.
And the other day he outdid himself.
In a speech down there in Dixie he announced that if desegregation goes through in the United States the best thing that could happen to us would be for the Russians to drop an H-bomb on our country.
And, if that don't rate ole' Orvie a party card, I'd like to know what does.
On the other side of the ledger, there's the case of P.D. East.
You remember him.
Last April, I chronicled his troubles as editor of a struggling Mississippi weekly newspaper.
Unquestionably, the troubles were his own making. he questioned the stylishness of bed sheets worn over the head.
It was five years ago when, stricken by pangs of principle, editor East made the printed observation that his fellow townsfolk were becoming overly emotional on certain race issues.
In face of their insults, threats and boycotts, he continued to hammer away at their bigotry until his local circulation plummeted from 2,300 to zero.
Today, through out-of-state circulation, he's managed to build it up again to a degree.
He's also built a reputation among the people who don't hate him as a courageous one-man army in the battle for common sense.
Although he lives surrounded by the sheets of the Ku Klux Klan, he's kept up a running attack on the callous indecency and insanity of race hatred.
He's done it without venom, but with the sharper weapon of satire.
An example is the "ad" on the front page of East's latest edition:
"Since it's the policy of this paper to provide service, once again we have a special offer to make.
"Don't suffer from the summer heat using your regular uniform of a muslin bed sheet.
"Be modern! Inquire about our complete stock of cotton eyelet embroidery designed especially for summer wear in Mississippi.
"Klanettes may enlarge the holes for arms, but your heads will fit nicely through the eyelets as they are. Keep cool this summer on your night rides of mercy...
"Address all order to: Big Brother, Degradation, Miss, Don't wait! This is election year and a ride may be necessary any night now."
Put East, the struggling country editor, and Faubus, the successful politician, side by side -- and tell me, if you will, how such things happen.