In An Alternate Timeline, I am Still Working On this


I like that the pattern is “You’ll get your goddamn ruffle but man, it took forever to do. Now all I need is to wash it and get the ribbon. I’m going for a dark gray, because I want it to have a tiny gothy edge, but I think you could do a really lovely turquoise ribbon and give it a kind of Miami in the 50s vibe. I’m also glad it’s as pink as it is. When I was working on it, it felt like a lot of white, but here you can see there’s not that much.

A thing I realize as I’m working on the project (sorry, I’ve switched topics here) is that the fandom analogy is going to be a lot more useful for me in organizing my thoughts than I realized. Because I don’t ever want to say that the bombings aren’t connected. At heart, they are all about integration.

But the Hattie Cotton bombing and the Looby bombing–at least as far as I can tell at this point–are much more similar to each other than they are to the JCC bombing. The Hattie Cotton bomb and the Looby bomb seem put together by someone who knows about dynamite with the intention of destroying the building (and in Looby’s case, killing people). The difference in the Hattie Cotton bombing and the Looby bombing is that the Hattie Cotton bomb got inside the building. The Looby bombing failed because the bombers who tossed the bomb missed the picture window, so the bomb blew up in the wrong place.

This–at this point, very early on–suggests to me a knowledge of explosives in the making of the bomb (maybe the same person?) but a less careful approach to the placing of the bomb (and this may be because a white person in a neighborhood where white people live nosing around a mostly white school is going to stand out a lot less than if a white person got out of a car in a black neighborhood to break a window and properly place a bomb. The placement of the Looby bomb may indicate a different bomb-placer than the Hattie Cotton bombing or it may indicate that the plan for escaping undetected was very different. But I suspect both of these bombings can be linked to local opposition to school integration. (Though national racists would also have been happy to see Looby dead.) And probably linked back to the same group.

The JCC bombing is different. The bomb was not as powerful and didn’t seem to be well-designed. There were also a lot of phone calls bragging about the bomb, giving credit to the Confederate Underground. And it took place at the very same time a Miami…and now I can’t remember if it was a synagogue or another JCC…but a Jewish building was bombed and in a two-week span where Jewish buildings throughout the South were bombed or had bomb threats made against them, many of which the Confederate Underground laid claim to.

This was probably JB Stoner’s group. And how much overlap would there have been with the group(s) behind the other bombings? Probably some. But I think there’s a slight philosophical difference in the approach. I think–and again, this is all very early speculation, just me trying to make sense of the facts as I know them–the first and third bombing were local people responding to the local integration situation, even if they were egged on and praised by national figures.

But the JCC bombing, that may have been part of Stoner’s regional campaign against Jewish people. Which, yes, also had strong roots in his racism toward black people. They’re not unentwined threads.

But the amount of people here in Nashville who would have had direct ties to Stoner–who wasn’t from here and wasn’t making regular appearances here (like Kasper was)–has to be pretty small. If the KKK had 200 people and Donald Davidson had 50 people (obviously, these are not real numbers, just an illustration), and the other “acceptable” anti-immigration groups had another 50, and John Kasper’s white citizens council had 15, Stoner’s group may have been 10, maybe 5. He allegedly had five people do the Atlanta synagogue bombing. He allegedly helped 4 people with the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham.

That’s how he worked–he had a handful of people he trained and directed and then, when they got caught, he was their lawyer.

So I’m not sure at this point how to do it, but linking Stoner to people in Nashville should be possible.

On a side note, after the JCC bombing here, the rabbi who was called afterwards and threatened and had the group tell him they were the Confederate Underground specifically said here’s the escalation. They’ve been burning crosses and bombing empty schools and now they’ve moved up to religious institutions. They will bomb a protestant church.

And they did. Stoner’s group specifically.

This is also why I look askance at claims that James Earl Ray was not part of some racist plot. Who eventually came on as his lawyer?

And who had a habit of coming on as a lawyer for people whose actions he’d encouraged or led?

But if we can know that this dude killed King, can’t we know who bombed us?