Friday, September 29, 2006
Southern Freemasonry shown as last bastion of institutional racism as Gov. Bob Riley story goes national after Bush visit
One day after Pres. George W. Bush stumped around the state on behalf of Alabama Gov. Bob Riley, the story we've been covering for weeks — that Riley is a member of a whites-only Masonic blue lodge in Alabama which operates under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Alabama — is now splashed across the world's televisions, webpages and newspaper front pages.
An Associated Press story by Jay Reeves moved on Sept. 29 and has been heavily published across the world, including by ABC News, the Washinton Post, Salon.com, TownHall.com, and various TV stations. So far in my research, it seems that al.com has published Reeves' article with the least editing and deletions, as it contains several paragraphs about Masonry not in some of the other publications.
The story was first brought to the public's attention by the radio talkshow hosts Russ and Dee Fine, who for the last six years, until Monday of this week, were on the air each weekday morning on Birmingham, Ala.'s WYDE radio station.
The Fines were fired in mid-show on Monday. No explanation was given them, but they have since indicated it was definitely related to their pronounced anti-Riley rhetoric almost daily on their show. With the addition of the "Riley's a Masonic racist" on August 29 (which we first wrote about while that show was on the air), it was inevitable this issue would eventually come to national attention. It has been suggested that the major news outlets have been sitting on the story, waiting until after Pres. Bush's daylong appearances in Alabama yesterday had passed, so that he wouldn't be asked questions about it during the campaign stops.
Russ and Dee Fine are no strangers to controversy. Like many radio personalities, they've been fired before for angering station management and local powers that be. A story in the Birmingham Business Journal dated May 5, 2000, announcing their then-recent hiring at WYDE, tells of some of their previous employment brouhahas.
A letter from Russ Fine on their website, the Voice of Alabama, today closes with:
There is only one conclusion that can be drawn: The Grand Masonic Lodge of Alabama is racist. The Governor is a member. Is the Governor a racist? You decide. He hasn’t resigned. Oh, and by the way, I’m worried about the President (for whom we voted twice and to whose re-election we contributed more money than we could afford). Could President Bush have possibly have known this about ‘Brother Riley’ before he came to Birmingham? Of course he knew. Now, assuming the President knew … and you know his advance people were made aware of the information on our site, you have to wonder why Riley hasn’t resigned from the Grand Lodge? And you have to wonder, why the President didn’t change his travel plans — or at least tell him to get out of the Grand Lodge or he wasn’t coming to Birmingham.
Like I said: It’s not rocket science — but it is a shameful disgrace. All Alabamians and most of all, all Masons should be very ashamed. I am.
We agree that all Masons should be ashamed... not ashamed to be Masons, but ashamed to have allowed the continued segregation of men based on nothing but race, in an organization that holds itself aloft as a group dedicated to the "Brotherhood of Man." Our fellow bloggers have for months now called upon M.W. Bro. Frank Little, the Grand Master of Masons in Alabama, to allow African-Americans to join regular Blue Lodges in Alabama.
And the Burning Taper has several times, including as recently as Sept. 19 called upon M.W. Bro. F. Ray Jackson, Grand Master of Masons in Georgia, to issue an edict immediately recognizing Prince Hall (black) Masons as true Masonic brothers, or to explain why he will not. We have offered to publish his response here on this blog. To date, we have not heard from Bro. Jackson or anyone from the Grand Lodge of Georgia. (I keep referring to Georgia because I, the Widow's Son, editor of this blog, am a Mason in good standing working under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Georgia.)
The Grand Master of Georgia's email address is [email protected] Other Grand Lodge officers' email addresses are listed on the Grand Lodge of Georgia's webpage.