I think Dan Abrams has jumped the gun on calling Alabama racist. Dan assails the state for voting down a constitutional amendment that would have stripped clearly racist language from the Alabama Constitution. The defeat of the amendment was very narrow. I think racism may have played a party, but I think taxes played the largest role.
Alabama recently went through a very rough battle over tax increases. The governor lost the fight and will probably lose in 2006, due to the wounds that still have not healed from that fight.
When the amendment was debated in the Alabama General Assembly it was not controversial. But, State Representative Ken Guin, a Democrat from Carbon Hill, AL, amended the proposed language to add the line about guaranteeing public education in Alabama.
The anti-tax reformers, still suspicious that the Governor wanted to raise taxes in some way, became increasingly paranoid that putting the language in the state constitution would lead to a backdoor, court ordered tax increase as some states have seen.
The tax advocates (though, no doubt, with some closet racist support) campaigned against that language — though they never campaigned against taking the Jim Crow language out of the constitution.
The measure failed in a close vote and the Republicans in the legislature are already redrafting the amendment without the controverted language.