Saturday, May 22, 2010

In America, Jim Crow Rides Again

America's racist past is being revived today by the country's far right.

Lincoln may have freed the slaves but Republican Rutherford Hayes sold them out in exchange for the presidency in 1877, an event known as the Great Compromise. With that, the federal government abandoned all efforts to protect the civil rights of southern blacks facilitating everything from lynchings to institutional segregation. Miscegenation laws passed by some states banned interracial marriage and blacks were widely disenfranchised.

The Civil Rights movement that took hold in the 50's culminated in the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 under Lyndon Johnson. The bitter slave state south has been fiercely Republican ever since.

A lot of progress was made over the past half-century. However the election of president Barack Obama has sparked an ugly, racist backlash in America even to the point of pundits and pols defending racial discrimination. is fighting back. Here's an excerpt from their latest e-mail campaign:

On Wednesday, Rand Paul, the GOP’s US Senate candidate for Kentucky repeated his claim that a central piece of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was wrong, and that businesses should be free to discriminate against whomever they please.1

Paul and his supporters don’t seem to care that without federal intervention, Black people might still be second-class citizens in many aspects of American life: where we eat, where we work, even where we live.

Then, on Thursday, FOX anchor John Stossel went even further, calling for the section of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that applies to business to be repealed. And he’s refused to back down.

While Paul may have started this outrage, he can be taken care of at the ballot box — FOX News can’t.

Stossel’s position is an affront to Black America and everyone in this country who believes in racial progress. It’s one thing to be a candidate with backwards views. It’s another to be employed by a supposed news network and to use that platform to push hateful ideas that our nation repudiated decades ago."

Fox News, of course, is the fetid nest of that other bigot Glenn Beck who proclaimed that Obama hates white people. Beck freely peddles racist diatribes.

And then there's Rush Limbaugh. Here, for your entertainment and illumination, are a few gems from Limbot:

"I mean, let's face it, we didn't have slavery in this country for a hundred years because it was a bad thing. Quite the opposite: slavery built the south. I'm not saying we should bring it back; I'm just saying it had its merits. For one thing, the streets were safer after dark."

"You know who deserves a posthumous Medal of Honor? James Earl Ray [confessed assassin of Martin Luther King]. We miss you James. Godspeed."

"Have you ever noticed how all composite pictures of wanted criminals resemble Jesse Jackson?"

"The NAACP should have riot rehearsal. They should get a liquor store and practise robberies."

This is the ugly face of America, its increasingly vocal far-right. The far right in Canada isn't really any better, it's simply running behind.


LK said...

I saw an great compilation of clips recently via Lewis Black on Stewart. Glenn Beck is so far gone--the Nazi props, film running behind him of Germany while he calls his fellow citizens "Brown-shirts"!! And clip after clip of his shows where he uses Nazi references like a mantra, it's sick. A disease of the soul. Racism. They never got over the fact, that they LOST the first Civil War. They (Beck, Palin, Levant, O'Reilly, Limbaugh, Coulter, and name-a-Republican-or a CPC-mouth-piece--they've stirred up some nation-wide shit, now, eh? I will never stand for or be a part of their belief system, even though they 'claim' to be Christians. Giving us all a bad name, they are.

The Mound of Sound said...

"A disease of the soul" - that nailed it LK. I'm pretty sure that a large segment of the American public is undergoing a mental illness similar to the condition described as mass psychosis.

Their country is in the throes of a gradual decline, made faster by the appetites and attitudes of its people. This betrays the narrative of "American exceptionalism" they've been force fed all their lives and so rigidly cling to - a belief in fantasy, true magical thinking. When you build your self-image and your value systems around an illusion, the onset of reality can be traumatic.

Louise said...

My, how times have changed.

"After the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery in America, racial discrimination became regulated by the so called Jim Crow laws, which mandated strict segregation of the races. Though such laws were instituted shortly after fighting ended in many cases, they only became formalized after the end of Republican-enforced Reconstruction in the 1870s and 80s during a period known as the nadir of American race relations. This legalized segregation lasted up to the 1960s, primarily through the deep and extensive power of Southern Democrats."

I presume you know that Martin Luther King Jr. was a Republican and the man most noted for his opposition to equal rights, Alabama Governor George Wallace, was a Democrat.

Louise said...

And then there's Democratic Senator Byrd, a Southern Democrat who belonged to the KKK.

Of course, we don't want anybody to know that, do we.

The Mound of Sound said...

Nice try Louise. Yes King was a Republican as were most blacks in the pre-CRA era. Until they went to the dark side, the Repugs championed freedom for blacks. The early Dems, by contrast occupied the position now adopted by today's Republicans. Sides switched when the Republicans, during the Nixon years, saw the potential in harnessing the southern white vote that abandoned the Dems after the CRA and VRA.

And, for the past half century, your American Idols have settled in quite nicely as the bigoted voice of the slave states.

And, yes, we know all about Byrd's early years. Did you think anyone didn't?

Louise said...

By the way, were you aware that the picture you've featured here was taken in Boston, Massashusetts in 1973. That's Ted Kennedy's seat. He had already been in the US Senate for 11 years when that event took place. Care to revise your opinion of the Democrats?

Nah. I didn't think so.

Louise said...

There are 32 African Americans running for Congress in November's election on the Republican ticket. Explain to me how that happens if "America's racist past is being revived today".


LK said...

MoS--Michael Steele on Rand Paul's view of Civil Rights--"He let his philosophy get in the way of reality." I've been doing some reading that concurs with your thoughts on American society, past and present. The generational trauma that occurs each time they make the call for war, has, along with other contributing factors, a measurable effect on the US psyche. It has not been positive.

The Mound of Sound said...

No, Louise, I don't care to revise my opinion nor is there any reason for it. Are you suggesting that Ted Kennedy was behind the Repug crackers in that photo and, if so, put some facts behind your gaping maw. Weeze, you're so typical of your rightwing fellows. It's reminiscent of Frum who lamented that the Repugs thought FOX worked for them only to discover that they worked for FOX.

Sorry Weeze, but there's something a bit rancid about people like you.

The Mound of Sound said...

And since your memory clearly needs a "reset" Weezie, you will recall how the Repugs at their last convention were proud to have Limbot headline. That's white trash bigotry writ large. That you should rally to their defence only speaks volumes for you.

The Mound of Sound said...

LK, I did my undergrad in the states during the ugliest years of VietNam. Thanks to my NATO service I was exempt from the draft but, as a somewhat "older" student, most of the guys I hung around with were returned vets. My best friend to this day was a two-tour Marine. I did get to witness America divided, in the throes of bitter rancour and worse.
It is a country that has enormous trouble confronting setbacks.

LK said...

Given what you've learned and seen MoS, and share with us here, can you believe that people at the top (of the US 'nation-building projects' for instance), who should've known the consequences of their decisions, didn't? I believe they knew, and I have reasons to think it shall all get worse. Much worse.

The Mound of Sound said...

I believe it was Ian Fleming who wrote that America is a land that passed from infancy to senility without ever reaching maturity.

Yes I can believe that "people at the top" acted without foreseeing the consequences of their decisions. It's rooted in that old American affliction known as hubris, a mad arrogance. That lies behind the incompetence shown in conquering Iraq with no idea what to do afterwards. How much planning was there in Washington for post-Taliban Afghanistan?

There is a madness to it. Imagine a society addicted at all levels - federal, state, municipal, corporate and individual - to debt. A nation of people who believed their homes were personal ATM machines to finance the holidays, the new truck, the Harley, anything one could want. Insane property values bolstered by equally insane lending policies, part of a financialized economy that went berserk and fell headlong into casino capitalism.

I must confess that I predicted an economic collapse way back during the "dot com" bubble but it didn't happen even as the next bubble, the housing bubble inflated. Then for years I wondered how America could defy gravity fiscally only to realize at the end that it was America's creditors who were holding the madness together.

Going back to the days we witnessed a nation in which wealth was imaginary, notional, even fictitous while associated debt was quite real, tangible and steadily mounting. People don't get that crazy even during Mardi Gras.

America's economy today is structurally flawed. It retains the appearance of great power but the fundamentals are often illusory. While there is much talk of "recovery" the gorilla in the room, America's enormous and seemingly insoluble debt problem, goes largely unmentioned.

I firmly believe that America is poised for enormous change because it has no other choice. What form the new America will take is unclear. The worst case scenario, to me at least, would be the emergence of a more clearly-defined and empowered oligarchy. I think this is the almost inevitable outcome from the dismembering of America's middle class.

LK said...

"Roger and Me", shows what I think is the beginning of the dismemberment of the middle-class. Personally, I was glad to see the auto-workers and their families and communities get federal help recently, as the money-lenders did. Interesting that the Dhali Llama is bold enough to say which system he believes in!

The Mound of Sound said...

Just curious, LK. What is the system the Dalai Lama "believes in"? I've always imagined him as utterly apolitical.

LK said...

I heard a recent news-clip of him stating his preference for Marxism over Capitalism. I'm sure there's middle ground in there, but since humans use only a small percent of the brain, hence the shape of the world today, I hold no hope for man to fix the problems we have created. Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions; I read an earlier post of your's that, oddly enough, corresponds with what I've learned and seen. Two completely different paths arrive the same conclusions. Cool, eh? Have a great week-end, MoS.

LK said...

I guess that would be an economic system not a political one.

The Mound of Sound said...

One of the chief scourges thwarting intelligent debate today is the tendency, in polarized societies, to invoke labels to muddle argument.

So many Americans today recoil at the word "socialism," blurring it with communism and failing to grasp the gaping distinctions. Time and again I've listened to Americans indoctrinated to believe that socialism is a political model that rejects private ownership and democratic freedoms. They cannot grasp that socialism is quite well suited to democracy just as capitalism has found a very comfortable nest in totalitarian states like China and Vietnam.

For most of my lifetime we were fed a nonsensical idea that capitalism and democracy were interwoven, one the inevitable result of the other. That suited our purposes when we were in a Cold War with the Soviet Union that brooked neither democracy nor capitalism. It just wasn't true.

Many Americans also don't grasp that liberal democracies are inevitably somewhat socialist - everything from fire departments to schools to roads.

There is nothing more vital to a healthy democracy than a robust middle class. Yet the middle class is a function of what would be considered socialist intervention - labour laws, environmental laws, trade protections, regulatory structures, health and education systems - that foster social mobility - the foundation of the vaunted "American Dream." When you dismantle that somewhat socialist infrastructure, you arrive at where the United States has found itself today... with a decimated middle class, a rapidly increasing gap between the ultra-rich and everybody else, and the shifting of economic and political power to a decidedly corporatist oligarchy.

Corporatism = fascism. Corporatism is not capitalism nor is it the handmaiden of free enterprise. Corporatism strives not for free enterprise and competition but for monopoly and a narrowly and tightly controlled market.

The corporatists have established a very powerful force that will be difficult to root out. They even have people like the Tea Partiers in their service. Oh well, that is how great nations wither and die.