Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Wrong side of history

In my opinion protesters of gay marriage are in a losing battle. I believe that within a few years, maybe a decade, the majority of states will allow some form of gay marriage with full benefits that are the same as traditional heterosexual marital unions. The people battling against it are trying to turn back time. It may work in the short term, but in the long term they'll lose. As public opinion shifts the anti-gay protesters are on the wrong side of history.

So it was with public discrimination against African-Americans, as shown in these two articles in consecutive 1946 issues of Life magazine. In the first, a sorority at the University of Vermont was kicked out of the national organization because they had admitted a "Negro." The sorority's national president, Mrs. Beverly Robinson, said, "Life is selective, and maybe it's best to learn it while we are young." That's just a fancy way of saying, "Stay in your place." It was probably acceptable to say something like that at the time, and maybe one out of a thousand, even ten thousand, white Life readers of the day would say they saw anything wrong with it. History has taken that "acceptable" statement and turned it around against the person who said it. She was wrong, the young African-American woman and her sorority sisters were right.

In the second article the Ku Klux Klan was making a comeback in Georgia in 1946, led by an Atlanta doctor, Samuel Green. Even the article called them bigots, something that probably wouldn't have been said by a national magazine before World War II, lest they risk losing readers or advertisers who sympathized with the Klan, or at worst a fire-bombed office. Life treated the KKK as something of a joke, but twenty years after that 1946 article was published Klan members in Mississippi were killing civil rights workers, and the Klan still had some power to intimidate because it still had unofficial sanction by police and local government.

Because of those actions, nowadays the public perception of a Klan member is of an uneducated redneck and professional hater. Maybe a random Klan member isn't either of those and just likes to go to Klan meetings to have a beer with the boys, play cards and wear the hood and robe to fool around. But nowadays the image the public has is that he's an idiot. The Klan got on the wrong side of history in the 1960s by showing its violent, murderous side during a legitimate exercise of black citizens to enjoy the rights of our country's white citizens.

The Klan in its twisted way helped the civil rights movement by its actions. It changed public opinion.


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