Yesterday, I went to the Atlanta History Center to see the new “Atlanta in 50 Objects” exhibit. Most of the choices were predictable, but still interesting: a copy of “Gone With the Wind,” White and Colored signs from the Jim Crow era, the old school Pink Pig that used to be at the downtown Macy’s, MLK’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech, funerary from Oakland Cemetery, etc. However, there was one entry that really surprised and interested me: the “pickrick” (i.e., axe handle turned club) that Lester Maddox used to chase black civil rights protesters away from his restaurant, the Pickrick Cafeteria:
Well, it’s time for MLK Day again, and our friends at the League of the South (known as LoSers on this blog) what to know why we can’t go back to the “good old days” when this weekend was used to commemorate Robert E. Lee’s birthday:
If you celebrate Martin Luther (Michael) King, Jr. Day instead of Lee-Jackson Day, then you are a moral idiot. King was a philanderer, a plagiarist, and a Communist sympathizer (if not an outright Communist). Both Lee and Jackson were both fine, upstanding examples of Christian manhood.
There are a lot of things I could say about this passage, but I’ll leave it to Frederick Douglass to explain, as he had a very intimate knowledge of the behavior of these paragons of “Christian manhood”:
One problem with discussing race with white people (or people in general, actually), is that they take they view that as long as they are personally nice to a small group of black people, they are not being racist, even if they support political policies that disenfranchise black people as a group. To them, racism only exists among a small subset of people that one could call “lifestyle racists”: Klansmen, neo-Nazis, racist heathens, etc. Such a view ignores the fact that “lifestyle racists” are relatively rare in 2015, and most of them don’t live in mainstream society, because these delicate snowflakes can’t fathom the possibility of having to endure even casual contact with those they deem “lesser.” This view also ignores the fact that for a long time, the Klan was considered to be a fairly respectable organization that had the tacit support of the white population.
110 years ago, the Niagara Movement was founded by black civil rights activist (and fellow nonbeliever) W.E.B. Dubois to directly confront racism in American society. Unlike the “accomodationist” tactic advocated by Booker T. Washington, Dubois believed that blacks needed to attack racist laws and customs head-on, and not wait for some far-off day when whites would be prepared to accept them as equals. A PDF of the Niagara Movement’s goals and philosophy can be found here:
While much of what the Niagara Movement wanted seems like common sense (e.g., universal suffrage, the end of peonage in the South, free, compulsory, and integrated high schools for children of all races, equal treatment before the law), it was considered shocking and radical by the standards of the early twentieth century, and even many black leaders thought that Dubois and his followers were being too bold. What is depressing for me, as I read the goals of the Niagrara Movement 110 years after the fact, is that many of the demands it states have yet to be properly implemented in the post-Civil Rights era.
Fans of To Kill a Mockingbird are aghast at the revelation that Atticus Finch, the noble protagonist of that celebrated book, becomes a segregationist and Klansman in his dotage in Harper Lee’s new book Go Set a Watchman:
Yesterday, the always excellent Bill Lindsey asked why the business community in Arkansas didn’t come out against that state’s sweeping anti-LGBT law as it did in other states where similar legislation was proposed (see http://bilgrimage.blogspot.com/2015/02/quote-for-day-itsnotover-backlash-is.html). I wrote a response to this question on the post itself, but I want to expand my thoughts on this matter into a full post.
The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is scheduled to hear arguments on whether there is a constitutional right to same-sex marriage in April. A ruling in the affirmative would strike down the remaining same-sex marriage bans at the state level and allow LGBT people to get married in in all fifty states, even in the Deep South. Given the divided nature of the court, the outcome will be anyone’s guess, but conservatives are pre-emptively preparing for the possibility of state-sanctioned gay marriage. Culture warriors like Mike Huckabee and Bobby Jindal are already talking about resisting any SCOTUS ruling that would legalize same-sex marriage, and it’s safe to assume that their supporters among Tea Partiers, white evangelicals, and white conservotrad Catholics are doing the same. While I expected apocalyptic rhetoric about the advent of same-sex marriage and the intent to keep on fighting even if SCOTUS rules in favor of universal gay marriage, my assumption was that conservatives would realize that continued resistance to same-sex marriage is politically unfeasible. That was until I read about this story: