A blog to me always seemed a little bit masturbatory. Perhaps self-indulgent, or self-aggrandizing, or whatever. No getting around that. I was reading Mark Twain's new autobiography last night and was really amused by his vanity in his own affairs. Specifically his take on the egregious wrongs and malicious misinformation spread about some of his dealings by the newspapers of the day. The book contained reprints of said newspaper articles, and quite frankly I think Mr. Clemens might have overreacted just a bit. The articles weren't really that mean, or full of lies. They just left out some information he wanted put in. Point being, it's hard to have some perspective when it's your own words and deeds being criticized.
This first post was inspired by reading about a governor of Georgia, who was mentioned on another blog. One Lester Maddox, who was famous in his day for his opposition to the Civil Rights act, and his blatant racism. He kept a barrel of axe handles in his restaurant to use on any non-whites that tried to enter. Seriously. This was less than 50 years ago.
Here he is politely asking a black person to leave his restaurant. He's the guy with the gun pointed at the black guy. I don't know who the asshole with the axe handle is.
He also hated Communitst, Socialists, Progressives of all types.
I bring this up because it stands in marked contrast to this idea pushed lately by the conservative side of things that they were somehow always in support of civil rights, and were champions of social justice.
Cue America's favorite historical revisionist:
"This will be a moment when we reclaim the civil rights movement. It has been so distorted and turned upside-down. It's an abomination, what has happened...We are on the right side of history. We are on the side of individual freedoms and liberties and damn it, we will reclaim the civil rights moment(sic). We will take that movement because we were the people that did it in the first place!"-Glenn Beck on his radio show, May 26
What a load of crap! The previously mentioned racist douchebag, Georgia's Governor Maddox, marched on Atlanta carrying a sign saying:
Sounds like something Glenn Beck could get behind. What was this socialist, communist, godless, unAmerican threat? Why, the Civil Rights Act, of course. And the civil rights movement.
In 1965 Maddox described the Civil Rights Act in the following terms.
"...The unGodly and unAmerican Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed by the U.S. Congress, signed by President Johnson, and supported and inspired by deadly and bloody communism."He also said it is "a sin against God, a crime against man, and is unconstitutional."
Now if Glenn Beck conservatives were the ones who supported the Civil Rights Act, and the Civil Rights Act was supported by communists, well, you see where I'm going with this.
Amusingly enough, Maddox was a democrat. However, he was most definitely a social conservative. He espoused all their current talking points - capitalism, private property, freedom, and of course America! More importantly, he is against all the right things: ethnic minorities, religious minorities, sexual minorities, and the government trampling on his constitutional, god-given rights.
There has always been this group of social conservatives who hate the evil communists and socialists. These people have been around as long as there have been communism, and socialism. They also tend to hate on the evil immigrant du jour, and also minority religions.
These people always say the same things. It's mind-boggling sometimes to read a quote from the 1850's and the 1910's and the 1950's and two weeks ago and be unable to tell the difference. Except that sometimes it's Irish and sometimes it's Italian and sometimes it's Mexican. Sometimes it's Catholics and sometimes it's Mormons and sadly it's pretty much always Jews. And now Muslims (who says we aren't a melting pot).
ReligionIn 1871 the Pope was a crocodile! Out to get America! Save us! Save us from the Catholics! The pope will eat our children!
Now it's those evil Muslims
Civil RightsAt this moment this group of social conservatives is trying to deny civil rights to gay and lesbian couples.
These are the exact same people who warned us in the '50's:
Last year Rep. Steve King of Iowa called gay-marriage "socialism". Same-sex marriage is, he said, "a purely socialist concept." Way to keep the boogeyman alive, Steve. Are you sure it isn't communism? Or Islam? Or something the Nazi's would do?
ImmigrationIn the good old days of 1889 it was those damn Irish that just wouldn't assimilate. That and they were all drunks who looked like monkeys.
Yeah, those damn Irish will never blend into American society! Right? Right?
In 1907 social conservatives in Congress formed the Dillingham Commision to investigate the problem of immigration. It reported it's findings back to Congress, leading to some of the restrictive immigration policies of the teens and twenties. And no, not the Chinese Exclusion Act. That was already there, keeping out the Yellow Horde since 1882. I mean those other racist immigration laws.
People of Slavic origin (which is most of eastern Europe and the former USSR) were described as possessing a fanaticism "in religion, carelessness as to the business virtues of punctuality and often honesty, [and were prone to] periods of besotted drunkenness [and] unexpected cruelty."
Southern Italians, depicted as illiterate, poverty stricken and dependent on charity, embodied "excitable, impulsive, highly imaginative, impracticable [qualities and had] little adaptability to highly organized society"
Those damn drunken lying Czechs! Those cruel Poles! Those lazy Southern Italians. They'll end up on Welfare! They'll never assimilate! They can't adapt to organized American society!
I'm sensing a trend...
In the 1950's Sen. McCarran, a Democrat from Nevada, had this to say about immigrants:
"I believe that this nation is the last hope of Western civilization and if this oasis of the world shall be overrun, perverted, contaminated or destroyed, then the last flickering light of humanity will be extinguished. I take no issue with those who would praise the contributions which have been made to our society by people of many races, of varied creeds and colors. America is indeed a joining together of many streams which go to form a mighty river which we call the American way. However, we have in the United States today hard-core, indigestible blocs which have not become integrated into the American way of life, but which, on the contrary are its deadly enemies. Today, as never before, untold millions are storming our gates for admission and those gates are cracking under the strain. The solution of the problems of Europe and Asia will not come through a transplanting of those problems en masse to the United States.... I do not intend to become prophetic, but if the enemies of this legislation succeed in riddling it to pieces, or in amending it beyond recognition, they will have contributed more to promote this nation's downfall than any other group since we achieved our independence as a nation." (Senator Pat McCarran, Cong. Rec., March 2, 1953, p. 1518.)If we let those Europeans and Asians in, it will destroy America! It will be our downfall!
Swap "Mexico and Islam" for "Europe and Asia", and you see what I mean. It sounds familiar.
This is actually one of the classic conservative xenophobic dodges: "Sure, back in the old days being a melting pot was a good thing, when our families immigrated. Our ancestors were diverse, but they were real Americans. Now it's different. These immigrants are different. They won't integrate. They won't assimilate. They won't learn the language. They take all the good jobs and send the money back to their countries."
Whatever happened to those "hard-core, indigestible blocs (of immigrants) which have not become integrated...but are [America]'s deadly enemies"? Oh, right. They all got jobs and bought houses and had kids and integrated, and now no one cares about the Yellow Menace and the Slavic Hordes.