Saturday, December 07, 2002
I had planned not to write anything about the 100th birthday of Strom Thurmond because my parents once told me that if you can't say something nice about someone, you shouldn't say anything at all.
But then, from a link on Brad Delong's blog, I read James Edwards Jr.'s National Review column on the event.
The money section reads: "And Strom Thurmond has done more for blacks in South Carolina than he has received credit for. He opposed the liberal civil-rights movement because it sought to force radical change. He opposed not its goals, but its tactics. It forsook the legislative route of state legislatures and ordered, measured, consensual change for the heavy, centralized hand of the federal government and the courts. Its legacy includes judicial activism, an undermined federalism and a weakened Constitution."
I realize that, in some circles (including that of the National Review), that the word "liberal" is synonymous with "bad," however, I've never before heard the civil-rights movement called "the liberal civil-rights movement." If this is indeed true, I would hope that everybody in America will run and embrace being called "liberal."
And, a movement that tried to "force radical change" instead of taking an "ordered" and "measured" approach is wrong? What, prey tell Mr. Edwards, was the alternative? By 1963, slavery had been over for 100 years. Should this measured approach... something "consensual" (which I assume means that Bull Connor and Ross Barnett would also sign on to)... have taken another 100 years? Should the promise and rights granted to all Americans be precluded from millions of Americans living at the time with the assurance that they would be guaranteed to the great-grandchildren of these citizens? Would this have been a good thing? Depriving million of Americans of their consitutional rights? That would have been ordered and measured. I wonder whether this is just Edwards writing or the National Review's editorial policy?
Let's remember what Thurmond said when he was running for President: "I want to tell you, ladies and gentleman, that there's not enough troops in the army to force the southern people to break down segregation and admit the Nigra race into our theaters, into our swimming pools, into our homes, and into our churches."
If that's "ordered" and "measured" and opposing it is "liberal," well, to be frank, I've never been more proud to be a liberal.
For an opposing view on why the "liberal" civil-rights movement took the "heavy" and "centtralized" tactics it did, it may be worthwhile for Edwards to go to this link and read it. A highlight:
We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct-action campaign that was "well timed" in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word "Wait!" It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This "Wait" has almost always meant 'Never." We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that "justice too long delayed is justice denied."
We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God-given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward gaining political independence, but we stiff creep at horse-and-buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging dark of segregation to say, "Wait." But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate-filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six-year-old daughter why she can't go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five-year-old son who is asking: "Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?"; when you take a cross-county drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading "white" and "colored"; when your first name becomes "nigger," your middle name becomes "boy" (however old you are) and your last name becomes "John," and your wife and mother are never given the respected title "Mrs."; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you no forever fighting a degenerating sense of "nobodiness" then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience.
Edwards, of course, still doesn't understand this impatience. He longs for ordered and measured.
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