For the past month or so, I’ve been working on a class on medieval Christianity and before that I was dealing with a full load of four courses. It was my intention to do a number of posts on various aspects of the medieval church, but recent events have caused me to change my plans.
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.
While same-sex marriage in all fifty states may appear to be a foregone conclusion, a group of what this article calls “a high-profile alliance of conservative Catholics and evangelical Protestants” is convening to issue a new call to arms against what they consider to be a “graver threat” than divorce and cohabitation:
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: