Is segregationism “bigotry”?
The most worrisome
thing about the Trent Lott affair is the adoption by almost every mainstream conservative commentator of the politically correct assumption that Lott’s statements indicate that he is a “bigot,” though the commentator then hastens to add that he doesn’t personally believe that Lott actually is one. I received today a column by Deroy Murdock that used similar language (though lacking the exculpatory caveat), and replied to him as follows:
Posted by Lawrence Auster at December 18, 2002 01:34 PM | Send
If you wanted to say that a belief in racial segregation is problematic for a leader of today’s Republican party, I would agree with you. But I disagree that your quotes from Lott’s past career show, as you put it, a “vivid pattern of racial animus” against blacks. One could believe in segregation (assuming Lott believed in it) without having animus. Preferring not to associate with certain individuals or groups (and all of us have such preferences) is not necessarily the same as having an “animus” toward them, in the sense that one would say untrue damaging things against them or treat them unjustly or hurt them or support other people who were hurting them and so on.
And what is true on an individual or social level is also true on the political level. For example, I think Muslims do not belong in Western countries in any large numbers because Islam is inherently incompatible with Western society. I think it is a fatal mistake for us to bring them in. In fact, I am outspoken about this. Does that mean I have an “animus” against Muslims? Does it make me a bigot? Does it mean I want to hurt Muslims or put them down or treat them unjustly? No. It means I believe in my own civilization and don’t want it to be ruined. The assertion that Islam is incompatible with the West is either true or false. But even if it’s false, I wouldn’t be bigoted for believing it, unless I willfully ignored contrary evidence.
You share with many conservatives and libertarians the false liberal assumption that being non-liberal on race and ethnicity (“liberal” here meaning the belief that there are no group differences that matter in any publicly important sense) is the same as being a “bigot.” Read Eric Fettman’s extraordinarily interesting column in today’s New York Post. In 1947 South Carolina’s segregationist governor Strom Thurmond was praised by the New York Times as a racial moderate who had taken active (and, it turned out, totally successful) steps to stop lynchings in his state, including the first-ever prosecution of whites for the murder of a black in South Carolina’s history. Clearly the liberal Times in 1947 did not support racial segregation. Yet it didn’t fall into the politically correct trap that today’s conservatives have fallen into, of saying that support for segregation presumptively equals “bigotry.”
“For example, I think Muslims do not belong in Western countries in any large numbers because Islam is inherently incompatable with Western society. I think it is a fatal mistake for us to bring them in. In fact, I am outspoken about this. Does that mean I have an ‘animus’ against Muslims? Does it make me a bigot? Does it mean I want to hurt Muslims or put them down or treat them unjustly? No. It means I believe in my own civilization and don’t want it to be ruined. The assertion that Islam is incompatible with the West is either true or false. But even if it’s false, I wouldn’t be bigotted for believing it, unless I willfully ignored contrary evidence.” — Lawrence Auster
Larry, BRAVO for saying that so well! It’s a difficult distinction to make but one that absolutely has to be made if our side — the side which rejects the notion that the nation-state is necessarily intrinsically unjust or unfair — is to have any hope of surviving, let alone prevailing. It’s a crucial distinction and you drew it well. It’s part of what I was trying to explain to Remus in my last couple of posts to him, in which I sought to explain why respect for every ethno-cultural group and every nation is not incompatible with the natural inclination to want to preserve one’s own ethno-cultural group or one’s own nation. I think you said it here better than I managed to do.
Again, every prominent GOP official is going to be challenged to jump through the same hoops Lott is now jumping. The only way to stop it is to start standing up for themselves and those who actually vote for them. Isn’t it amazing how the GOP grovels before those who will never vote for them?
I believe that Deroy Murdock wrote a column criticizing Mr. Bush for pandering of this type about a year and a half ago. Murdock said something like, “They will just kick him in the teeth.”
The Lott situation reminds me of the University of Toronto scenario discussed on VFR a few weeks ago. An incautious remark is seized upon as an occasion for outrage, apologies are offered —- and rejected as being insufficient to remedy the “real problem”.
As I said then, decent people accept a sincere apology when it is offered. The left, on the other hand, prefers to play “Now we’ve got you, you SOB.”
Mr. Auster’s remarks may sway some of those who are still open to rational discussion of these matters. But let’s not kid ourselves: the other side is not really interested in a rational discussion —- especially if that means accepting the risk that the outcome might be that truth is not on their side. (I think that’s a fascinating development in the history of liberalism, which used to proclaim rational discussion as one of its highest values.)
I agree with everything Mr. Auster has said here.
While I don’t like giving play to the libertarian open-borders fanatic Stephen Moore (who said after 9/11, “What does any of this have to do with immigration?”), his parody of Lott appearing on Jesse Jackson’s tv show and announcing his support for racial reparations (at first I wasn’t entirely sure it was a parody) is worth reading.
This Moore parody, and the one posted earlier by Matt, are really funny — made me laugh out loud. These parodies are the best way to deal with this sort of opportunistic, fundamentally cynical attack by Dems on Republicans who make innocent slip-ups. It’s too late to treat the Lott affair in this way — the cat’s already out of the bag — but I hope in future someone’s handler or strategist will remember to use satire and parody instead of groveling. The other side won’t have any defense.
Bravo to Mr. Auster. He has identified and articulated so well what so many people (including me) have been unable to identify and articulate. In addition, he has been brave by acting when so many are afraid to act.
Well argued. Except I think you’re talking over the heads of 95% of the US population. We’re all trained from childhood to think that all group distinctives are pathologies based on hatred and fear.
To Lawrence Auster:
Take all the rich & powerful white, Protestant males in this country and whisk them back in time… to America’s south…1948…. and turn them all into young black people.
Just how patient do you think they’d be?
You really think Dick Cheney is going to want to pick melons and await the day when his grandchildren — or great grandchildren — are allowed a chance to live the kind of life you took him away from?
Larry Auster comments:
“…the false liberal assumption that being non-liberal on race and ethnicity….is the same as being a “bigot”.
“Yet it ( 1947 Times newspaper) didn’t fall into the politically correct trap that today’s conservatives have fallen into, of saying that support for segregation presumptively equals “bigotry”
Webster’s Dictionary defines bigot as “one obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his own opinions or prejudices”.
When I use the general and non specific term segregation, I really mean racial separation or segregating out of blacks or any other Americans from mainstream access or participation in American life, and I include all separate but equal public facility arguments.
The dictionary definition of bigot is likewise too general and I use it to mean any person who uses power to effect segregation or separation, including anyone endowed with such power, who has a proved disposition to segregate or separate out any Americans from mainstream access or participation.
By my reckoning Trent Lott is a bigot. In his proved disposition to segregate he has shown himself as untrustworthy of the oath he swore, to uphold the Constitution of the United States, more particularly the 14th Amendment providing for equal protection of the law for all citizens.
Individuals may have and hold racist, segregationist, bigoted or even cannibalistic attitudes and personal opinions which they are free to enjoy.
Not so elected American legislators whose sole public occupation is to craft the laws by which we live, all of whom take an solemn oath to uphold the Constitutional and other laws of our Republic. Senators are elected to represent all citizens of their states, not some of them who are the same color as the guy just elected.
And it makes no difference that we of the right are on the defensive or that other pols have done worse, or that liberals smear conservatives every chance they get.It is Lott’s own public display of segregationist attitudes that brought him down not anything you or I did.He’s a bigot.He has to go for that reason if no other,and P.C. labels be damned.America is for all Americans
Doug Weaver, your entire letter seems to be a non-sequitur. What point are you making? What point are you replying to? I don’t see where Mr. Auster advocated segregation, or praised others — Sen. Lott, for example — for advocating it in the past (assuming Sen. Lott did advocate it in the past). You show your true colors in the opening words you chose for your letter: “Take all the rich and powerful white protestant males … ” My GOD, but that reads word-for-word like the mind-numbing ultra-left-wing mantra spouted on a daily basis by Sociology and Political Science professors all across the country. Have those guys ever heard of the year 1989? Better get the word out to them, Doug — Marxism is dead, friend — it’s been mouldering in its grave these thirteen years …
Sandy writes: “The dictionary definition of bigot is likewise too general and I use it to mean any person who uses power to effect segregation or separation, including anyone endowed with such power, who has a proved disposition to segregate or separate out any Americans from mainstream access or participation.”
The question raised by my post was: is segregationism necessarily the same thing as bigotry? Sandy dismisses the dictionary meaning of the word and ex cathedra announces Sandy’s own definition: that bigotry IS support for separation or segregation when the person supporting it has power. But this is simply the leftist definition of bigotry and racism; it defines one as evil by the possession of power, and not by the inherent nature of one’s motives and acts. This will not do. So let’s go back to the dictionary. Encarta: “One who is intolerant especially in matters of religion, race, or politics.” Webster’s’ is similar: “one obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his own church, party, belief, or opinion.”
Now by these definitions, any strong minded left-liberal today (think of Barbara Streisand, Alec Baldwin, Tom Daschle, Al Gore), who speaks of all Republicans and conservatives as hateful bigots, could certainly be called a bigot. However, that’s not the sense in which we in liberal society (even we conservatives) use the word. We only use it in regard to one’s attitudes toward minorities and outsider groups. So, in that sense, bigotry would mean views on race, religion, ethnicity, nationality that are stubbornly intolerant, i.e., unreasonable. Specifically, I think what people really mean by bigotry is a unreasoning quality of animus or hatred toward another group.
And now we get to the nub of the issue. Sandy may be shocked by this, but it is possible to have a reasonable belief in segregation, that is, a belief in segregation that is neither obstinate nor intolerant nor motivated by animus. Many perfectly reasonable and moral people throughout American history up to the 1960s in both the North and South—indeed virtually all white Americans including prominent people and U.S. presidents up to the mid 20th century—believed in racial segregation in some form or other. Theodore Roosevelt, who was a racial progressive for his time (for example, he set off a huge national brouhaha when he had George Washington Carver to dinner at the White House), felt that blacks generally, at least for the time being, were at a much lower level of civilizational abilities than whites and for that reason should not have the vote. He frequently stated his view that the 15th Amendment was a terrible mistake. Yet his evident desire and his actions to help improve the conditions of blacks, sometimes in quite courageous ways, and to his own political harm, would make it absurd to call him a bigot. Yet by Sandy’s definition he is a bigot, along with virtually every other leading figure in American history. Sandy’s way of thinking thus leads us to exactly the same place that liberalism leads us, to a guilt and hostility toward our own country (indeed, an unreasoning guilt and hostility that itself has the quality of bigotry properly understood) that makes it impossible for us defend our country but leads us to surrender it to the left and the race-hustlers and the ethnic activists and the illegal immigrants and so on.
So what is a more sane and rational approach? Clearly, the word bigotry properly refers, not to belief in some general position such as racial segregation, but to the manner in which such a view is held and the specific practices one favors. Some segregationists may very well be bigots, others may not.
None of this is to defend racial segregation as such. That is not the issue here. I am making a different point, which is that even if racial segregation is wrong, belief in it does not necessarily make one a bigot. I am appealing for a more careful and less loaded use of language. Thus I would have no problem if commentators said, “Trent Lott is (or gives the appearance of being) a segregationist; such a man cannot be the Republican leader in the present age.” But I do have a problem with people saying “Trent Lott is a bigot.” The term “segregationist” has a substantive meaning that we can rationally discuss. But the term “bigot,” much like the word “racist,” conveys a quality of hatred or evil that, one, doesn’t fit Trent Lott in particular, and, two, prevents any rational consideration of the actual wrongs or rights of his behavior and attitudes.
My daily e-mail of columns from TownHall.com just came in. Of 16 articles, nine are about Lott.
“My daily e-mail of columns from TownHall.com just came in. Of 16 articles, nine are about Lott.” — Lawrence Auster
Of course. He’s being Borked. — Just as we of this Forum said he would be, on day one of this affair.
I understand that you dislike the value laden meanings currently assigned to the label “bigot” which you deem inappropriate; that you prefer a more generalized, traditional meaning which removes the animus loaded component from the word.
I earlier posted my view on labels:
“To draw proper inferences about labels, also ask if the label is being applied to the self or another, whether the speaker agrees, in whole or part, with the label and labeled one; then measure all against the reality of the world of politics including a good dose of skepticism of the motive of the speaker. Filter it all through the prism of your experience, remembering always the perfidy of others and your own gullibility”
For purposes of this VFTR topic I did use the current meaning of the word/label bigot but I restricted its use to someone with power or a proved disposition to use his power in a specific way. I did so because the topic of your post is an elected man of great power, Trent Lott.
But even if we removed the perceived component of “animus” from the label, and accept Webster’s Dictionary definition of bigot as “one obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his own opinions or prejudices” you are still left with a real life elected Senator from Mississippi who is a bigot
The hidden meaning in Lott’s dual purpose public comment was that segregation between the races was a good thing and if Strom Thurmond had been elected President of the United States” on the 1948 Dixiecrat party segregationist platform we wouldn’t have the problems we now have (paraphrasing)”.
Segregation and bigotry are prima facie inextricably linked in his comment and in his mind..
The issue of the legitimacy of the slavery, suppression and segregation of one American race from another was decided adversely to its proponents beginning with the civil war of 150 years ago. Remember Lincoln’s ” A house divided” speech?
Yet after the civil war, the southern states, led by the Senators they elected to the national congress, unable to sever their cultural attitudes from their public official’s performances enacted the infamous Jim Crow laws to continue states segregation and repression of America’s blacks.
The 14th Amendment had to be enacted, because Jim Crow laws were used to circumvent equal access to all American groups, the principles for which were paid for in sacrifice, blood and death for a hundred thousand or more American soldiers.
Full equal access civil rights for all Americans came more slowly, but IS American law.
I am also persuaded that linguistic attempts to separate out the thematic ideology of segregation among American groups from its root philosophy of slavery and suppression is attempted reanimation of an idea having no place in the American lexicon.Not in America. Only as American history.
Such efforts are, by my view, an attempt to resurrect the failed policies of a southern ante-bellum part of American society long dead and lingering on only in nostalgia.
The U.S. military trains its officers that those who are prejudiced an neither lead nor serve.Trent lott can neither lead nor serve for the same reasons.
[… pssst… Sandy… your nominalism is unzipped…]
Yes thats because my rationalenis had the urge to micturate on the segregationist parade.
Summary of the discussion:
Mr. Auster postulates the possibility that racial segregation in the abstract can be discussed rationally, because it is not an unmitigated plenary evil in itself. In believing in this as an abstract possibility he is in the company of, for example, American black enclavists.
Sandy believes with modern liberals that having such a conversation is to resurrect an old purely evil demon already conquered by good-guy liberals; and furthermore that whatever is necessary linguistically to preclude the possibility of segregationist discourse is fair game.
Trent Lott and his public actions and pronouncements is not an abstract concept.I qualified all my labels and premises.I dont grant you permission to change any one of them as you tried to do in your observations of our dialogue.
Concepts of the label/words bigotry and segregation in the abstract are also not the topic.Larry’s post are solely about segregation of American blacks by an elected American official.
“But I do have a problem with people saying “Trent Lott is a bigot.” The term “segregationist” has a substantive meaning that we can rationally discuss. But the term “bigot,” much like the word “racist,” conveys a quality of hatred or evil that, one, doesn’t fit Trent Lott in particular, and, two, prevents any rational consideration of the actual wrongs or rights of his behavior and attitudes”.
I refuse to be distracted by trivial distinctions over the meaning of the word bigot and drawn away from the announced and central topic in this or any debate.
So,. tell me Matt, how many angels can fit on the head of your conceptual pin?
Doug Weaver writes:
“Take all the rich & powerful white, Protestant males in this country and whisk them back in time… to America’s south…1948…. and turn them all into young black people.”
“You really think Dick Cheney is going to want to pick melons and await the day when his grandchildren — or great grandchildren — are allowed a chance to live the kind of life you took him away from?”
The condition of blacks in say Mississippi in 1948 was a result of a number of things. I don’t see segregation by itself as a major part of the problem.
Segregation means that in certain connections whites are limited to dealing with whites and blacks with blacks. That gives blacks certain advantages, for example more institutional independence. Assuming blacks have civil rights in the oldest and most basic sense — they’re protected from extralegal violence and can acquire and dispose of property, go into business, make and enforce contracts and so on — and there’s a free economy, how blacks do in a segregated setting would depend mostly on what they do and how well. So I don’t understand the point about multiple generations who are stuck picking watermelons, unless blacks are incapable or are subject to extreme abuse other than segregation.
It seems that on the whole neither was the case. Black economic progress was slower after the Civil Rights Revolution than before. (See A. Hacker, Two Nations, 101.) If anyone wants to pursue the issues http://www.issues-views.com/index.php/sect/1000 might be of interest.
Sandy’s protestations seem odd. I don’t think either I or Mr. Auster are the ones attempting to preclude certain kinds of discussion by insisting that the discourse is what we will it to be. Mr. Auster simply pointed out an ontic distinction between the morally reprobative concept of “bigot” and the morally neutral concept of “segregation”. If Sandy thinks that is a trivial distinction and doesn’t want to be sidetracked by it then why would Sandy post comments in a thread in which that distinction is the primary subject?
I don’t think Sandy actually finds the distinction trivial (else why post?). I think Sandy believes the distinction between bigotry as morally reprobative and segregation as morally neutral is a false one, and is posting in protest of Mr. Auster making the distinction. Sandy has not yet provided any reason why anyone else should believe the distinction to be a false one, however.
“I refuse to be distracted by trivial distinctions over the meaning of the word bigot and drawn away from the announced and central topic in this or any debate.” — Sandy
What you need, Sandy, is a good stiff dose of the Pat Buchanan piece linked-to in Larry Auster’s blog entry under today’s date, the one which starts with the words “Over the electronic transom … .” Buchanan’s excellent piece’ll explain everything to you, Mr. Political Correctness — just keep reading it over and over until you understand what really happened in the Lott affair.
As for your comment, “Matt: Yes, that’s because [I] had the urge to micturate on the segregationist parade” — there IS no segregationist parade, Sandy. You’re hallucinating.
One reason I’m hesistant to say that all segregation is “bigotry” and therefore simply evil is that segregation can mean different things. It can mean Jim Crow—the imposed statutory segregation that bans white businesses from dealing with blacks. Let’s agree that that’s really bad and unacceptable in America. But what about allowing whites the free choice not to deal with blacks? Let’s say for the sake of argument that I oppose Jim Crow, but also oppose the employment provisions of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, as do the University of Chicago economist Richard Epstein (on libertarian grounds) and Dinesh D’Souza. Would that make me a segregationist? Certainly the freedom of whites not to hire blacks, and thus keep them out of white-dominated fields, would be a major aspect of a segregated society. So, if supporting the right of an employer to hire whom he chooses would make me a “segregationist,” I would therefore be a “bigot,” and thus have no place in respectable society.
This is one of the reasons why I oppose simply calling segregation “bigotry,” which stops any rational discussion of what we mean by segregation and what kind of segregation we are actually condemning
I find it hard to believe that segregation in, say, Mississippi in 1948 was not part of the problem. We have already established that segregation as a completely abstract, isolated ideal, is not an evil thing. I can agree with that. The problem is, we are talking about reality here.
The idea that blacks had equal chances at success in a segregated society is ludicrous. There was no capital to work with, no training in anything other than hard labor, nothing. They were an almost entirely proletariat class.
The REALITY of segregation in America is that it is an ideological fallacy. Seperate was never equal. The blacks, under segregation never had the same chance as whites to pursue life, liberty, and most importantly, justice. The reality of segretation meant that contact between the races was limited in EVERY circumstance, not only in the few that you name in your ideological dreamland.
Think about it. Blacks owned nothing when they came out of slavery. They had no public institutions, no private institutions, nothing. The idea of segregation, telling them to stick to what was theirs, meant that they could only participate in what society they already had, NOTHING. How can you say they had economic freedom when they had no capital to work and couldn’t do business with in or around white businesses?
You presented one possibile explanation, that blacks were merely incapable of making progress. I believe you are right. A wholly illiterate people, isolated from all schooling and public institutions that offer any chance of education or training, were certainly incapable of progressing under segregation. The idea that the blacks, who had known only labor, would magically become successful in a society based on the thousands of years of Western thought that only the whites knew of, is just ludicrous.
We are not talking about the abstract ideal of segregation, because that is not what Trent Lott referred to. He referred to Strom Thurmond’s version in 1948, which DOES, Matt, resurrect the historical demons that it was based on. We are talking about a tangible statement with a complex meaning and a FACTUAL HISTORICAL PAST. Trent Lott was not talking ideology. He gave us the specific version of segregation he was talking about. YOU are one preaching nominalism, removing all meaning, context, and history from Mr. Lott’s statement, and YOU are guilty of distorting the true meaning.
We are condemning the segregation that existed and was promoted by Strom Thurmond when he ran for President in 1948. I don’t understand why you are so hell-bent on removing all context from Mr. Lott’s statement.
remus is assuming that we know exactly what Lott meant by the segregation that he was apparently embracing when he retroactively endorsed Thurmond’s 1948 candidacy. Now, does remus really believe that he KNOWS that Lott was signing onto the entire package of racial practices then existing in the South? That Lott was saying that everything in the South circa 1948 was just perfect and should never change? That’s remus’s implication.
In fairness, we can assume for the sake of argument that Lott was approving of Thurmond’s overall platform. But to go beyond that and turn it into an endorsement of all racial practices then existing is what the liberals do when a conservative makes some appeal to the past. When a conservative says, for example, “We had better moral standards in the 1950s,” the liberal will automatically chime in, “Yeah, and we had blacks in the back of the bus, then too!” But to appeal to the better standards of the ’50s is not to endorse everything in the world as it existed then. The same goes for Lott’s endorsement of Thurmond’s ‘48 campaign.
In response to remus, I again appeal to the fact (I cite a respected leftish writer as a source) that blacks made faster economic progress before the civil rights revolution than after. I give some of the statistics at http://www.counterrevolution.net/inclus.html#10 . I also suggest he look at the articles at Issues and Views I cited. It seems to me the purified ideological construct (“eternally no nothing ever”) is the one he is presenting.
Remus says that I have been “…removing all meaning, context, and history from Mr. Lott’s statement,” and that I am “guilty of distorting the true meaning.” He may think that all of those things are true, but even if they were true that would not mean that I am “preaching nominalism.” When I say that it is nominalist when Sandy attempts to treat words as merely convenient labels for particular things and as not engaging any universals or categories, that is because those attempts are in fact instances of nominalism. To a nominalist a word is just a convenient name for a cluster of particular things. One has to understand what nominalism means before the critique is going to make any sense though.
I appreciate both Remus’ and Sandy’s tendency to appeal to particulars — I truly do — but it would help if their critiques took into account what has actually been said and what evidence has actually been presented. This is not the only thread in which failure to do so has resulted in this sort of conceptual impasse.
Let me urge brevity upon those that oppose the ideas in excellent writing such as Mr. Auster’s article. The lengthy responses to Mr. Auster’s succinct article were word salads, and Mr. Auster and others exhibited more patience than I would have. In word salads, it is hard to identify what ideas are being opposed because too many new ideas are tossed in and are not tied together or developed. Practice sticking to one idea that is opposed, develop the opposing idea, and then stop if you have not been brief. This will also help to keep the discussion on point and encourage others (who don’t have much time) to add their ideas. I have been guilty of the same poor style, and this is just a suggestion.
I want to second Mr. Murgos’s appeal for brevity and succinctness in comments. This will make discussions more interesting for everyone. Frankly, I sometimes stop following discussions when the comments themselves are entire articles as well as being rather diffuse. (Yes, I too was guilty of one particularly long comment in this present discussion, but it was needed to address the question of whether I was endorsing bigotry).
Mr. Murgos, thanks for that reminder calling for brevity and “sticking to the point” in readers’ comments. It makes me wince to realize I’m one who’s often been guilty of the opposite, in various threads.
Here’s the section on race in Thurmond’s 1948 platform:
“We stand for the segregation of the races and the racial integrity of each race; the constitutional right to choose one’s associates; to accept private employment without government interference, and to earn one’s living in any lawful way. We oppose the elimination of segregation, the repeal of miscegenation statutes, the control of private employment by Federal bureaucrats called for by the misnamed civil rights program. We favor home-rule, local self-government, and a minimum interference with individual rights.”
This stands in general for the segregation of the races. It is not defending any and all practices that were associated with segregation in the South at that time. In particular, it doesn’t seem to be supporting Jim Crow, since it places an emphasis on free association in employment, which obviously Jim Crow interfered with.
An addition to my responses to Doug Weaver and remus, prompted by a private email from a third party:
I think the facts are as I have stated them. My understanding (from my recollection of Richard Epstein’s book Forbidden Grounds) is that even in the South there was no particular bump up in the rate of black economic advance after the 1964 Civil Rights Act except a temporary one in certain areas. Epstein suggests that the reason for the improvement in those areas was that making discrimination illegal undercut the practice of suppressing black employment and enterprise through extralegal violence.
Obviously things weren’t great in 1948 or 1963. Things aren’t great today either, and part of the reason for the serious problems we have today is the direction the civil rights movement took. To my mind the question is what the best way to go forward would have been. It doesn’t seem unreasonable to me to think a continuation of the Booker T. Washington approach might have been best — retaining voluntary separation and conceivably some separation in public facilities as required by custom, combined with police protection for blacks, more support for black education, and continual reduction in the more insulting aspects of segregation.
Maybe all that would have been impossible or bad for one reason or another. But the integrationist approach — saying blacks and whites are the same and all differences are illegitimate and due to racism and no separation is allowed — has very serious problems as well. And people who look at the statistics have a hard time showing the integrationist approach has had any special economic benefit.
I hope the issue is not being beaten to death, but here is an exchange with a correspondent that may help clarify further the question of whether “bigot” is the correct term for anyone who supports the Dixiecrat platform.
And to the point whether segregation means animus, it’s a fine point and I’m not sure what is gained by it. Yes, one can be a calm man like Jared Taylor and believe in segregation (I’m assuming that’s what he believes in, I’m not sure), and not be torn apart by racial hatred, but what if the system you sponsor means second class citizenship for one group, what is the practical difference?
I’m not saying segregation is morally good when I say that segregationists are not necessarily bigoted. The problem is that once you call a white person a racial “bigot,” all thought stops, you’re just dealing with absolute evil.
In the past we had a variety of words to cover a range of racial attitudes—“prejudice,” “bigotry,” “segregation,” “white supremacism,” etc., etc., but in our time all these nuanced words have been replaced (Newspeak-like) with “racism,” thus eliminating any distinctions between what may be very different attitudes. “Bigotry” here is serving the same function as “racism.”
So, which of the words would you accept for the Strom Thurmond ilk, segregationist? Would that be enough to describe them? White supremacists?
Clearly they are segregationists. They could probably also be fairly called white supremacists, since they believed in keeping blacks in second class status (as, by the way, most white Americans did until the mid 20th century).
In contemporary America and by our established standards, aren’t the terms “segregationist” or “white supremacist” enough to condemn them adequately? Isn’t that more accurate and descriptive—and more conducive to rational thought—than calling them “bigots”?
There is always second (and third, and first, and uber) class status for various groups in any polity, including ours right now. One of the main differences between liberals and traditionalists is that liberals are outraged by differences in status, view them as arbitrary and society-imposed, and therefore treat them as plenary evil. This is not a new or even twentieth-century attitude. I’ve posted this particular quote before:
“And I am safe in affirming that the proofs of genius given by the Indians of N. America, place them on a level with Whites in the same uncultivated state … . I believe the Indian then to be in body & mind equal to the whiteman. I have supposed the black man, in his present state, might not be so; but it would be hazardous to affirm, that, equally cultivated for a few generations, he would not become so.” Thomas Jefferson to Marquis de Chastellux June 7, 1785.
The “disparate impact” argument Mr. Auster’s correspondent seems to invoke is not substantively different from the “disparate impact” rationale behind present-day antidiscrimination law. Every situation involves different status for different people, and contra liberalism those differences are not the result of arbitrary will.
What lies beneath it is an outrage at the concept of heirarchy, and a tendency to *blame* the existence of heirarchy (already presumed to be morally horrific) on the arbitrary will of particular people. Further under the covers still lies the exaltation of the human will to status as the only legitimate principle of action (the former couldn’t be the case if this were not also the case). All of this is aided and abetted by nominalism for reasons already discussed elsewhere.
“So the Maples formed a union, and demanded equal rights.
The Oaks are just to greedy, we will make them give us light!
Now there’s no more Oak oppression, for they passed a noble law.
And the trees are all kept equal, by hatchet, axe, and saw.”
That last is by that fount of traditionalist philosophy, the rock band “Rush”.
None of this means I support Jim Crow, by the way. Jim Crow was reprehensible, but it was reprehensible because it was a manifestation of moral stinginess not because it results in a society of citizens of different classes. As far as we know, every possible political system results in a society of citizens of different classes. So the “practical objection” of Mr. Auster’s correspondent doesn’t grok.
Unadorned, I was replying to Lawrence Auster’s comments. He was trying to water down the evils of legalized segregation. At least, that’s how his remarks came across.
I’m not sure what earlier comment of Doug Weaver’s Mr. Weaver is now referring to. I see no other comment by him in this discussion. Could he show me where I was watering down the evils of legalized segregation?
When you said “One could believe in segregation (assuming Lott believed in it) without having animus. Preferring not to associate with certain individuals or groups (and all of us have such preferences) is not necessarily the same as having an “animus” toward them, in the sense that one would say untrue damaging things against them or treat them unjustly or hurt them or support other people who were hurting them and so on.”
The short answer is that it depends on what specific segregation-related practices you mean. If I had said that people could engage in the deliberate humiliation and harming of blacks without feeling animus toward them, then that would be silly. But in the context of my quoted comment, it is entirely true that people can believe that the races ought to live apart to a significant degree without that being an expression of animus. American history is filled with examples of this. I earlier mentioned Theodore Roosevelt. On one hand, TR believed blacks in general were on a lower level of civilizational abilities, at least for the present period of time, and should not have the vote. In that sense he was in favor of of a separate social and political order for blacks and whites which we could call segregation. But at the same time he extended himself to blacks in all kinds of ways to help raise their condition and did what he could to show he respected capable blacks as individuals. The blacks of his time thought of TR as “their” president, who stood up for them against Southern racists. There is absolutely no evidence that TR had animus against blacks.
We need to look at the past correctly, not politically correctly. People who grew up within a certain way of life in the past naturally tended to accept that way of life, often without thinking, just as modern liberals accept modern liberalism and all its moral horrors without thinking. People who accepted the segregated ways of their society, even if those ways were wrong, were not necessarily demonstrating animus, though they may have shown moral laxness in failing to recognize the bad aspects of the system.
And of course the attempt to demonize the past doesn’t stop with the South and segregation. Mr. Weaver in another comment was trying to demonize Christianity per se as in collusion with every sin in the liberal book. So the basis problem with the liberal attack on discrmination (and the reason I insist on precision in the discussion) is that there is no inherent limit to the indictment. It doesn’t stop with segregation. It goes to ANY failure to live up to contemporary liberal standards of non-discrimination and equality. And since it’s impossible for any society, whether in the present OR the past, to live up to those standards, liberalism, applied consistently, condemns our entire civilization to death.