Friday, November 9, 2007

NaBloPoMo Day 9: Six Degrees of Segregation

Arthur Bremer was released from a medium-security prison in Hagerstown, Maryland this morning.

Who's Arthur Bremer? He shot Alabama Governor George Wallace in 1972, in my newly adopted hometown of Laurel, Maryland, during a campaign stop for Wallace's unsuccessful bid for the Democratic nomination for President.

Governor Wallace is famous (or perhaps infamous) for having stood in the schoolhouse door in 1963 to keep black students from enrolling at the University of Alabama. A fiery segregationist who once vowed "Segregation forever," Wallace had backed away from his racist views by 1972, although he continued to denounce busing of children to integrate schools and pledged to "restore law and order." That phrase is regarded as a coded appeal to white racists.

According to the diary of Arthur Bremer, which was found in a landfill in 1980, his attempted assassination of the governor was motivated by a desire for attention, not a response to Wallace's political views. Bremer also stalked President Nixon.

Here's what interesting to me, though: the character of deranged Travis Bickle in the movie "Taxi Driver" was based in part on Arthur Bremer. John Hinkley was obsessed with "Taxi Driver," and in 1981 shot President Ronald Reagan in an attempt to impress Jodi Foster, who co-starred in the film.

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