Look: I am eager to learn stuff I don't know--which requires actively courting and posting smart disagreement.

But as you will understand, I don't like to post things that mischaracterize and are aimed to mislead.

-- Brad Delong

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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Why I Have Hope

Lyndon Baines Johnson had a checkered record on the civil rights issue. But ultimately he imposed integration on a nation that was, at best, only semi-willing.  Johnson was not above political expediance, but he knew this activity would drive southern white racists into the open arms of the Republican party.

As Clarence Page reported:
Southern Democrats played the race card to win and hold the South against the party of Abraham Lincoln. Conservative Republicans played the race card in the name of "state's rights" to win the South in 1964. On the night President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, he told his young aide Bill Moyers, "I think we just delivered the South to the Republican Party for a long time to come."

We can see now, almost 5 decades later, the harvest of what Johnson sowed.  On the one hand, the Republicans held the white house for 28 of the 40 years from 1968 through 2008, a legacy of political divisiveness, fiscal elitism, and economic irresponsibility from which the country may never recover.

On the other hand, we now can find pictures like the one above.  To hate, you must dehumanize.  And you can't dehumanize after you are given the opportunity day after day, in the classroom, the playground, and musical performances to see and appreciate the fundamental human dignity of those who do not look like you.

Make what you will of this counterpoint by kevinearick posting at Naked Capitalism.  I have no idea what the connections might be between the comments and the picture in the post.

1 comment:

BadTux said...

The problem is that pictures like the one you post are the exception, not the rule. I noted on my own blog recently that our schools are by most measures as segregated, or more segregated, as when LBJ signed the 1964 Civil Rights Act, though now it's related to housing segregation and manipulation of school district boundaries to make sure "those" people -- generally people of a lesser socio-economic class, not skin color, nowadays -- aren't within the boundaries of desirable school districts. (Thus why East Palo Alto's mostly-Hispanic children are bused to Redwood City for high school, rather than walking across the freeway overpass to Palo Alto's mostly-Asian and white high schools).

So yes, there is progress, but it is agonizingly slow, and mostly occurring in areas of the country other than the so-called "heartland", where anybody with non-white skin is automatically assumed to be a criminal. I think I told you about the relative from the "heartland" who came here and we were walking in a neighborhood of San Francisco where the homes are all $1M+ and he was freaking out because all the people walking on the street were brown-skinned. "Let's get out of here, this is a bad neighborhood!" he told me. I looked at him like he was crazy and said "You gotta be kidding, every person here on this street makes more money in a month than you make in a year, they probably think *you* are the criminal, acting all shifty like you're going to mug them." Didn't reassure him though, because in the Republican "heartland", "brown" = "criminal". I was afraid he was gonna have a panic attack and stroke out right there in the middle of one of San Francisco's most exclusive neighborhoods... because Fox News tells him every day that brown people want to kill him and take everything he has, and of course he believes them because how would he know any different? After all, the only brown people in his area live in shotgun houses in the slum. Or with his daughter-in-law as the father of her children, but hey, that's different, because that's a brown person he knows personally as a "good n*****", somehow he manages to keep the two notions ("brown people bad", "daughter-in-law's husband good") together in the same head without the two ever rubbing together. Odd, hmm?

- Badtux the "Aren't humans strange?" Penguin