Thursday, May 22, 2014

plus ça change...

I'm reading Carl Risen's excellent book on the Civil Rights Act of 1964, The Bill of the Century. Revisiting the worst parts of the country of my childhood, I can't help feeling that there are a lot of people out there - politicians and non alike - my age or a little older who are really feeling nostalgic for what the rest of us see as the shame of the 1950s and early 1960s - like being able to beat the shit out of people while the police looked out smiling. Perhaps the identity of those you could beat up has changed, though I'm not sure of that, but the desire is still there, simmering under the surface.

I hit this quote today - it's from a speech by JFK on July 9, 1963. The "public accommodations section" was that section that required business owners to serve blacks - bake cakes for their weddings, so to speak, though "cut their hair" and "let them sit at lunch counters" were the poster children of the day. Kennedy said:
"Even though the public accommodations section is causing controversy, it is clear to most Americans that when the basic constitutional rights of an individual to be treated as a free and equal human being come into conflict with the preferences of those who operate public accommodations, then the elementary rights to equal citizenship and equal treatment must prevail."
Looking at the multitude of those arguing for their right to discriminate, I'm not sure this is any truer now than it was then. I just hope it's as true - true enough to change the laws.

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2 Comments:

At 3:28 PM, May 22, 2014 Anonymous Mark P had this to say...

I'm afraid you're right. I think a lot of people yearn for the right to discriminate against, if not beat up, certain people. I think it's aimed at gays and undocumented people (but mainly if they're brown), but it would be a short trip for them to include blacks as well.

 
At 11:54 PM, May 23, 2014 Anonymous Kathie had this to say...

Surely it's just a matter of time until certain sanctimonious American patriots are howling for that young undocumented woman in southern California -- the one kidnapped by her mother's boyfriend, held prisoner for 10 years, forced by her kidnapper to marry him and bear his child -- to be deported. (Might be different if she were a blue-eyed blonde, of course).

 

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