RICHMOND, Va. (Nov. 2)
Elements seeking to promote anti-Semitism in Southern States “are not friends of the South” and are harming the cause of states’ rights, Governor J. Lindsay Almond Jr., said in an exclusive interview here with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
The Governor declared that Virginia will tolerate no threats or violence against public buildings, “religious or otherwise,” and those guilty “will come to know that the state government is arrayed against them without any compromise.”
Gov. Almond invited Milton Friedman, JTA Washington Correspondent, to Richmond for an interview because of the Governor’s concern over the injection of religious prejudice into the current school integration crisis.
Gov. Almond served notice that “if some misguided fool” attempts bombings, “I am going to throw every resource of this state into tracking down the offender who will be tried and punished according to law.”
He revealed that he is looking into existing legal statutes to determine their adequacy to inhibit and punish terrorism. If necessary, said the governor, “I will ask advice from the Attorney General of Virginia on adoption of broader criminal statutes to punish vehemently those who threaten or do violence to any public building, religious or otherwise.”
He said Jewish citizens of Virginia may rest assured that their government in Richmond will tolerate no anti-Semitic fanaticism. He recalled “the profound contributions of citizens of the Jewish faith in this state to our common society in the areas of charity, civic betterment, culture, business, and industry.”
DENIES ‘PHILOSOPHY OF TRUE SOUTH’ COULD SUPPORT ANTI-SEMITISM
According to Gov. Almond, the use of the name “Confederate Underground” by anti-Semites is “a desecration of the Confederacy and could only emanate from a polluted mind.” He said that “no philosophy of the true South could support” anti-Semitism or “such conduct as bombing houses of religious worship.” He added that nothing in the history of the Confederacy, in which Southerners of the Jewish faith participated, “could ever lend encouragement to acts or even thoughts” along lines demonstrated by attackers of synagogues.
Gov. Almond expressed gratification that bombings have not taken place in Virginia. The Governor considered anti-Semitic violence so alien to Southern tradition that he speculated as to whether it was to some extent being brought into the South by totalitarian fanatics from other parts of the country in an attempt to exploit present tensions by inflaming religious strife. He saw anti-Semitic agitation inspired by elements hostile to the true values of Virginia.
“I can think of no Virginia citizen of sanity and influence who, officially or unofficially, would not be revolted” by anti-Semitic terrorism, said the Governor.
Gov. Almond called attention to section 16 of Virginia’s Bill of Rights, a part of the State Constitution. This section states “that religion or the duty which we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and, therefore, all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love and charity towards each other.”
The Governor said the word “Jewish” could be used as well as the word “Christian” in the Bill of Rights description of the qualities of forbearance, love and charity.
Gov. Almond also cited section 15 of the Bill of Rights as timely and vital in defining the qualities necessary for preservation of free government. He read aloud its provision “that no free government, or the blessings of liberty can be preserved to any people, but by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality and virtue, and by frequent recurrence to fundamental principles.”