Friday, November 13, 2015

Oh, I Definitely Would Have Supported That Civil Rights Movement

One of the more obnoxious white people complaints about what's happening at Mizzou and Yale (and spreading elsewhere!) is that this is all over some petty stuff. But this argument is tricky to make, not because it's empirically wrong (which it is, but that's not what these people are concerned about), but because it has a good chance of making you look like a racist.

And of course you're not a racist, you're a Good Person™. So to prove your bonafides as a Good Person™, you have to point out that you don't disagree with equality, you just think these damn kids are going too far and being too sensitive when they complain about being called racial slurs and threatened with death. So what you do instead is find something some Black person did sometime that you can safely agree with to show how not-racist you are.

I can't count the number of times I've seen denunciations of Mizzou phrased as some version of "the civil rights movement was actually necessary, these kids are just whining about nothing!" Because everyone supports the civil rights movement…now.

But did you know there was a time when MLK and the civil rights movement and all those other now-venerated events and people were not super popular? In fact, it turns out that when the civil rights movement was actually happening, a lot of people didn't think it was necessary. They thought it was a bunch of uppity kids complaining about petty stuff that didn't matter. And it wasn't just Klan members, but self-appointed Good People™who thought this was all a bunch of unnecessary grandstanding by self-important troublemakers.

It might help these people who argue "MLK = good, Mizzou = entitled brats" to go back and read what Good People™ like them were saying at the time these things were actually happening. It turns out white America wasn't super fond of the civil rights movement! Shocking! To hear most white people tell it, everyone supported the obviously-correct civil rights movement. Of course they did! They were Good People™, not racists!

….and yet, for some reason the civil rights movement had to happen. Why, it's almost as if there were a lot of white people who weren't on board. Hell, it almost seems like most white people weren't on board, which is why the civil rights movement was necessary in the first place.

But that can't be, because that would imply that progress can happen against the wishes of white people (who are, of course, Good People™), which wouldn't make any sense, because no white people are actually racist. Hell, to hear them tell it, the civil rights movement was basically their idea and the only people who opposed it were a very tiny number of sheet-wearing terrorists. Why the federal government had to repeatedly intervene is kind of confusing, but we can just leave that aside, I guess.

Anyway, not able to come up with any better ideas, I've been collecting and cataloging screen shots of people making this argument, so that 40 years from now when this period is codified as a universal good that only a very small ignorant minority opposed, but whatever current struggle is happening is just a bunch of spoiled kids, I can pull up all of these to point out that, nope, the white, moderate Good People™always oppose progress. That is, of course, until the progress happens, and then they claim they were on-board the entire time.

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