In Alabama, a 'Wizardess' Disputes Her Title

Neo-Confederates

The rift between the Wizardess and the governor of Alabama started even before the Christmas card arrived last December.

Patricia Godwin, a hard-line neo-Confederate activist from Selma who is engaged in a crusade to block any acknowledgement of the Selma-to-Montgomery civil rights march on the Capitol grounds, had been a supporter of Republican Gov. Bob Riley, according to an Internet essay she posted.

But the woman who denounces the 1965 march as "The Mother of All Orgies" said in the same essay that she was miffed with Riley because he ignored a "report" she sent him criticizing the Alabama Historical Commission.

Then came the Christmas card.

All it took was one word to turn the governor into the Grinch. Riley's card addressed the avid admirer of Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate general and the first "grand wizard" of the Ku Klux Klan, with the formal title of "Wizardess."

Godwin, who often refers in E-mails to her majority-black hometown as "Zimbabwe on de Alabamy," boiled over.

"I am highly offended," Godwin huffed to the Montgomery Advertiser. "Nothing about my life warrants such an attack on my character and my reputation as a defender of my Southern heritage."

Responding to the story shortly after New Year's Day, Riley's staff sent a two-sentence letter to Godwin apologizing for the apparent snafu. But that wasn't enough. Godwin, saying she'd been "defamed" and victimized by a "hate crime," publicly demanded a meeting with Riley and the firing of the staffer who'd addressed the greeting card.

None of that happened. In fact, the governor's staff added insult to injury by restoring a sentence about slavery causing the Civil War to a proclamation from which it had been inadvertently removed, enraging Godwin all over again.

The governor's noncompliance may be due to the fact that it didn't take staffers long to discover that Godwin, her cries of outrage notwithstanding, frequently signs her E-mails as the Wizardess. The Intelligence Report provided copies to the governor's office.

That wasn't all, according to what Riley spokesman Jeff Emerson told the Advertiser for a follow-up story. "My understanding is that she said, 'You can refer to me as the Wizardess,'" Emerson reported. "She said this to several people. She said it verbally. We don't make this stuff up."