We previously reviewed the three 50-year historical periods since the Civil War's 1863 Gettysburg battle and the Emancipation Proclamation. The first 50 years culminated in the 1913 Gettysburg great encampment of Union and Confederate Civil War veterans blessed by Democrat Woodrow Wilson, our progressive-segregationist president. It was a time when white males North and South advanced or accepted Jim Crow “separate but equal” laws that kept blacks “in their place.”
In the post-Civil War's second half-century’s second half, 1938 to 1963, America went from 0 to 60 to bring blacks into the national mainstream: Eleanor Roosevelt hosted black opera singer Marian Anderson’s concert on the National Mall (1939), Jackie Robinson integrated baseball (1947), Truman integrated the armed forces (1948), the Supreme Court integrated education (1954), Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King integrated the Montgomery, Alabama bus system (1956), Congress passed its first civil rights legislation since Reconstruction (1957), and Eisenhower sent troops to integrate Central High School, Little Rock, Arkansas (1957).
Civil rights progress roared through the 1960s, 100 years after the Civil War, with sit-ins integrating Southern lunch counters (1960), Freedom Riders enduring violence and Southern jails to integrate interstate bus travel (1961), James Meredith, backed by Federal troops, integrating the University of Mississippi (1962), and after police violence against children in Birmingham, Alabama drew national horror, 200,000 people marched on Washington to hear Martin Luther King proclaiming “I have a dream” (1963), leading to King becoming “TIME Man of the Year” and receiving the Nobel Peace Prize (1964), followed by King’s Selma, Alabama march (1965). The civil rights floodgates opened with passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Fair Housing Act of 1968.
From 1965 onward, with blacks having achieved equality before the law, liberals began pushing a more-controversial “affirmative action” black preference agenda that generated significant white backlash. Meanwhile the nation politically and culturally was welcoming blacks into the mainstream. Edward Brooke, a Massachusetts Republican, became the first black U.S. Senator since Reconstruction (1966), Martin Luther King’s life and assassination (1968) elevated him to national stature alongside our greatest presidents, and under Republican Ronald Reagan, he received his own national holiday (1983), as one after another, blacks attained appointive and elective office formerly reserved for whites, culminating in Barack Obama’s election as president (2008).
And how American culture changed in the ‘60s! The Supremes became America's most successful vocal group ever with 12 number one singles (1964-69); the Supremes at that time rivaled the Beatles in worldwide popularity. “In the Heat of the Night” won the Oscar for best picture and director in the same year (1967) that “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?” was nominated for best picture and won the best actress Oscar. Finally came Elvis Presley, the “good old boy” Southern icon, whose his hit song “In the Ghetto” (1969) demonstrated how fully blacks had won their place in the nation’s heart.
All this progress seems forgotten by Kilgore’s Washington Monthly article. Instead of facts, Kilgore falls back on loaded phrases. Such as
“ancient history,” as in:
just 49 years ago Jim Crow was very much alive and as pervasive a feature of southern life for both races as fried food or hot weather or going to church on Sunday. Is 49 years ago ancient history? Well, I haven’t headed off to the nursing home just yet, and I can certainly remember Jim Crow quite vividly.Comment: Of course “49 years ago” isn’t “ancient history,” but it’s proven to be way more than enough time to bring about the racial equality we currently enjoy.
Kilgore then uses the loaded phrase
“wandering attention,” as in
The entire history of race relations in the South has been a story of racists taking the long view and outlasting the wandering attention span of those demanding change—who out of fatigue or competing priorities or their own prejudices “got over it” and left the South to its own devices.Comment: Kilgore’s “wandering attention” is a grossly inaccurate reference to white Democrats’ deliberate embrace of Jim Crow Southern segregation in the Civil War’s aftermath, 1865-1938, an embrace that earned them a solid Southern base but mostly minority status nationally as white Republicans generally maintained control elsewhere (see V.O. Key’s Southern Politics in State and Nation).
Kilgore finally uses the loaded phrase
“beyond a doubt,” as in
Can I prove beyond a doubt that such contemporary phenomena as the refusal to accept an almost completely federally financed expansion of Medicaid by all but one state of the former Confederacy is mainly about race? No, but anyone who claims it’s not at all about race is either willfully ignorant or has succumbed to the anti-racism-is-the-real-racism brain fever that is today’s version of “separate but equal.”Comment: Race? Medicaid non-participating states include 8 from the South, plus Alaska, Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Maine, and Pennsylvania--19 total. 5 Southern or border states are participating in some fashion. No, Kilgore, you can’t prove in any way that opposition is race-based; it’s about opposition to Federal mandates.
Kilgore, as you say, “get over it.”