Friday, August 30, 2013

What My Father Told Me About LBJ and "Niggers"

By Robert Morrow

In honor of yesterday's 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, I would like to give you a little tidbit about Lyndon Johnson as president, his take on civil rights & his attitudes towards black Americans. LBJ called up George Wallace to visit him in the White House. Wallace brought along his right hand man and #1 Alabama political operative Seymore Trammell. His son Warren Trammell is one of my Facebook friends.

Here is how the meeting of Lyndon Johnson and George Wallace went. This meeting was on March 13, 1965. It was the following Saturday after the previous "Bloody Sunday" in Selma. Actually this meeting was highly publicized, but the actual contents of it as relayed by Warren Trammell are not well known. Also, I do not know if the USA was bombing the Ho Chi Minh trail at that time, but I think Trammell catches the unvarnished behind the scenes "flavor" of LBJ quite well.

Go to LBJ's presidential schedule and look up March 13, 1965: http://www.lbjlibrary.net/collections/daily-diary.html

On the diary it says 12:05PM Meeting - LBJ, George Wallace, Seymour Trammell, Katzenbach, Bill Moyers and Burke Marshall.

By the way, like Wallace and the Trammells, I am a native of Alabama so this is of special interest to me.

WARREN TRAMMELL:

On Wed, Aug 28, 2013 at 5:52 PM, Warren Trammell  wrote to Robert Morrow:

"To Robert Morrow: to whom it may concern....my father's (Seymore Trammell) memories of his and Alabama Governor George Wallace's private and not really publicized meeting, with President Lyndon Johnson in his Oval Office, concerning the racial violence in the Southeast in the 60s. It's been impossible to nail down the exact day since it was not well publicized.

 In the mid 1960s in America, white/black racial unrest had reached the most violent levels the South had ever seen in modern times! Alabama Governor George Wallace and his number one adviser my father Seymore Trammell had their hands full "managing" the black/white racial violence all the Southern politicians thought was caused by the Reverend Martin Luther King and his growing crowds of black followers!

 At the same time in a lesser known part of the world, the LBJ's USA was deeply embroiled in a massive war in North Viet Nam over oil (the real reason we know today). America's President at that time, in charge of "managing" these two violent situations, was Lyndon Baines Johnson, affectionately know by his Southern political buddies as just LBJ or just Lyndon. Unknown to the public, Southern politicians privately shared Lyndon's hatred of what he called in private, "niggers". Lyndon hated "niggers'! He called them "niggers" in private. He cussed "niggers" every day, my father said, and called them all kinds of vile names!  He had his hands full with the Viet Nam war and hated being "bothered by those G--damned niggers" my father said Lyndon said.

 To rid his hands of those "G-damned niggers" he called my father and Governor Wallace to his Oval Office officially to have a "friendly informative talk" about the disturbing violence in the South. George and Seymore were very excited! They just knew their buddy Lyndon was going to give the massive help in "managing those niggers" Lyndon said.

However, in typical trickster style, when George and Seymore got into Lyndon's Oval Office, they were shocked! Lyndon began to cuss like a sailor and ask them, "What in the hell are you boys (Lyndon called them boys) doing with those G--damned niggers down there?" Shocked and taken back, the "Guvna" said "Well Mr. President, we're doing the best we can! What do ya want us to do?"

 At that Lyndon began to cuss "niggers" again. They were sitting on either side of a narrow coffee table in the Oval office and big Lyndon with his long strong arms and big powerful Texas rough hands reached over and slapped both Seymore and George hard on their knees and held their legs a moment and said "Now you boys, you gotta get your G--damned asses back down to Alabama and make those G--damned niggers act right and calm the hell down! I am G--damned tired of hearing 'bout those G--damned niggers on the G--damned news every night!  Every night at midnight, I hafta get on that damned Red Phone over there on my desk and give the G--damned orders for the B-52 Bombers to fly over the Ho Chi Minh trail  and all over that G--damned North Viet Nam and bomb the the hell outta the whole G-damned country every G--damned night and this G--damned war is killing me!"

"You boys got it lucky. Hell George (Lyndon called him George and "boy"), all the hell you got is those G--damned niggers throwing rocks and tot'in signs! Hell, here, I had to get the Secret Service to put-up double thick bullet proof glass to the White House windows cause these G--damn niggers and hippies up here are shootin' bullets at me and my wife and 2 little girls are scared to death!  I hate those G--damned niggers and hippies"

At that point my father tried to tell Lyndon something but again Lyndon slapped him hard on his knee and said "Now be quiet boy, here, take this pad and pencil and take some G--damned notes". My father gave me the pad and pencil with the Presidential Seal on them!

The short meeting was over and Lyndon lastly said "You boys go back to Alabama and get them G--damned niggers quiet! And I don't want to hear nothin' else on the news about them G--damned niggers!"  At that point Lyndon said to the "Guvna", "Come-on boy we gotta go outside, wave at the press and tell'em we had a very productive meeting 'bout them G--damned niggers!" As they stepped up to the mic, Lyndon said kind words about the blacks in the South and indicated that the "Guvna" agreed with him and was going back to Alabama to help them get their justice.

Lyndon grabbed George by the arm before he could speak, turned him around and with his huge hand on the Govna'a back, pushed him back into the Oval Office and out the door to get on one of the Presidential Planes back to Alabama! The "Govna" and Seymore were sadly disappointed and grumbled all the way back to Alabama, the Guvna angrily chewing on his cigar and Seymore clutching his blank Presidential note pad with great frustration.
---

More from Morrow

From Ronald Kessler, Inside the Whitehouse, pp. 33-34:

During one trip, Johnson was discussing his proposed civil rights bill with two governors. Explaining why it was so important to him, he said it was simple: “I’ll have them niggers voting Democratic for two hundred years.”

That was the reason he was pushing the bill,” said [Robert M. MacMillan, an Air Force One steward], who was present during the conversation. “Not because he wanted equality for everyone. It was strictly a political ploy for the Democratic party. He was phony from the word go.”

 MacMillan said Johnson’s younger daughter, Luci, then seventeen, was a “wretched witch.” On one stopover in Florida, she was having a tantrum because she did not know where a servant was. She blamed MacMillan for it.

“She said, ‘Damn you. You go find my nigger right now,’” MacMillan said. Playing dumb MacMillan asked for a description of the man.

 “She screamed again. ‘Find my nigger.’ People around were smiling. She drew her hand back as if she was going to slap me. I said, ‘Miss Johnson, I don’t think that would be a good idea.’ She said, ‘Dammit, I’ll find him myself.’ This was the attitude of these people who were championing civil rights.”

5 comments:

  1. While this is obviously a cautionary tale of politicians, I think the second snippet is a great story of the benefits of competition: Here we have an odious man serving his fellow human beings out of self-interest.

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    1. as we see from the outcome of the 'competition' between the parties and their outdoing each other in search of votes at somebody else's expense,I think we could do with less competition in this sphere.

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    2. As Hans Hoppe often says, competition in production of goods (economics) is great. Competition in production of bads (politics) is a scourge.

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    3. Given the Great Society has destroyed the independence and prosperity of the black community, I don't see your sentiment as being anything reasonable. Before it, in the post-war period, black wealth grew at a tremendous rate (that is what underlined the Civil Rights era, a class of people who had made gains who had grown less tolerant of constraints), after the Great Society programs came into effect much of that initiative and drive in the black community succumbed to the misbegotten deal. Negative life style choices reinforced by being non consequential for those who make those choices such a teen pregnancy is at the heart of that trend of black prosperity being reversed. it encouraged it to the point that illegitimacy is the norm. that was by design. The Great Society's War on Wealth Creation reinforced bad socials mores by encouraging many of the most talented and educated among blacks through Affirmative Action to join the public sector thus becoming invested as a class in the growth of government over theirs and our general welfare.

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  2. Another nugget on LBJ's racism: Nicholas Katzenbach on LBJ’s racial attitudes and his telling of “nigger jokes”

    “After that he would get on an old fire engine that some admirers had presented to him and drive me around – me sitting beside him in my Brooks Brothers suit and tie, LBJ driving in his ten-gallon hat, flannel shirt, and blue jeans. He would point out sights of interest, and when he saw one of his black workers in a field he would stand up (the fire engine still moving), wave his hand, sound the siren, and shout, “Come over here, boy, and meet your attorney general.”
    I would cringe beside him. It was almost as if he did not associate any of his workers with the civil rights leaders he regularly met with in Washington, although I am sure in fact he did. It was just a southern way of life that he was used to and felt comfortable with, just as he often did with the stories and jokes he told about blacks. They made me feel uncomfortable, but this president who did so much to secure equal rights saw no impropriety and no inconsistency between his stories, where blacks were the butt of a joke and his convictions about racial equality.”


    [Nicolas Katzenbach, “Some of It Was Fun: Working With RFK and LBJ,” p. 207 ]

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