The New York Times reports in depth today on a letter signed by 67 former state attorneys general, including Steve Clark and Jim Guy Tucker, calling on political leaders to unequivocally condemn hate.
The letter referenced a famous 1976 episode in Alabama:
In February 1976, that attorney general, Bill Baxley, received a threatening letter. It was from Edward R. Fields, a grand dragon in the Ku Klux Klan, who was furious that the state had reopened an investigation into the Birmingham church bombing that killed four young girls in 1963.
He demanded a response, and Mr. Baxley obliged.
“Dear ‘Dr.’ Fields,” he wrote. “My response to your letter of February 19, 1976, is — kiss my ass.”
Mr. Baxley did not publicize his letter. (“For one thing,” he recalled in an interview on Tuesday, “I would have been worried about what my mother would say about me using that language.”) But the K.K.K. quickly released it, thinking it would hurt him politically.
It did not quite work out that way.
The letter this week is signed by people of both major parties and is not addressed to Donald Trump. It didn’t quote Baxley directly, but said his action then served as an inspiration for “all who seek to equivocate in times of moral crisis.”
I note it appeared the same week Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge was boasting of a court filing aimed at protecting the ability of business people to discriminate against gay people.