- The Washington Times - Monday, December 31, 2001

Creating himself
"Forrest Carter was the best-selling author of 'The Education of Little Tree: A True Story,' a literary phenomenon that was published 25 years ago. Carter also wrote another famous book, 'The Rebel Outlaw Josey Wales,' whose eponymous ex-Confederate superhero was played by Clint Eastwood.
"But 'Forrest Carter's' most memorable creation was himself. 'Forrest Carter,' revered author of the beloved 'Little Tree,' was actually Asa Carter virulent segregationist, former Klansman, speechwriter for George Wallace and professional racist.
"That 'The Education of Little Tree' was written by the same man who immortalized [Alabama Gov.] George Wallace by writing his racist manifesto, the famous 'Segregation forever!' speech, is an inconvenient fact that hundreds of thousands of people seem willing to ignore.
"Asa Carter wrote the most famous racist rhetoric of the civil rights era, words that would reach and be remembered by more people than anything published by Forrest Carter. From the steps of the Alabama state capitol building, on Inauguration Day, 1963, Wallace delivered the speech that, for sheer grandiloquence, rivals Martin Luther King's 'I Have a Dream.' 'In the name of the greatest people that ever tread the earth,' thundered Wallace, 'I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny. And I say: Segregation now! Segregation tomorrow! Segregation forever!' Wallace's national reputation was made."
Allen Barra, writing on "The Education of Little Fraud," Dec. 20 in Salon at www.salon.com

No regrets
"The Vietnam War is over. Everything that happened is over. Why bring it up again? I am not at war. I would do the same thing today. Vietnam and the fight [with Zora Folley] concentrating on both could really affect your mind. I had to concentrate on the fight.
"Back then, black people were brainwashed to think white was supreme. But I loved being a black man and talking like this after the weigh-in: 'I am the greatest. I am beautiful. I am bad. I am the king of the world.' That was something to really shock them. I don't miss fighting. You miss me."
Muhammad Ali, interviewed by Catherine Saint Louis in the Dec. 23 New York Times Magazine

Movie myth
"'Nashville' was the culmination of the last mythic period in American movies. The larger fable goes like this: Once we lived in movie paradise, with one bold masterpiece after another engrossing a public finally willing to grow up. Then George Lucas ruined everything by turning the audience infantile again, abetted by a craven industry that turned off the money tap for the visionaries as soon as the receipts for 'Star Wars' rolled in.
"As a product of this era, I can say that just about the only part the myth gets right is that [the 1970s] really was a wonderful time to go to the movies if, that is, you were part of the relative handful queuing up for 'Mean Streets' rather than the hordes waiting to see 'Airport,' 'Earthquake,' 'The Towering Inferno,' or 'The Exorcist.'
"At the time, my friends and I knew we had to catch the movies we were excited about fast, before they flopped. Sure, there were exceptions, but the notion that the '70s rush was a great popular phenomenon is really only borne out by a single, um, franchise the combined artistic and commercial peak represented by the first two 'Godfather' films. Even at that, it's worth recalling that Part II didn't sell as many tickets; in 1974, a lot of 'Godfather I' fans who wanted more crime-family snitch-snitch bang-bang were turned off by what they recognized, correctly, as a rather melancholy, elliptical art film. The reason I know is that we looked down on them."
Tom Carson, writing on "McCabe and Mrs. Kael" in the January issue of Esquire


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