By Paul Craig Roberts
Recently, I reported on my most widely read columns ( https://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2021/03/04/back-to-world-war-ii/ ). The rankings are based on my worldwide audience. Many of my American readers, judging by their emails, enjoy most my remembrances of the civilized times in America’s past.
My column, “I have outlived my country,” on March 16 reminded many Americans of the civilized country we once had. A Vietnam War era fighter pilot wrote that he grew up in Georgia during the same era and remembers that his black acquaintances on neighboring farms were opposed to the coercion that came with integration. Blacks had been experiencing a voluntary increase in acceptance as equals, and they saw willing acceptance, nor coerced acceptance, as the promising path.
That set me to thinking. I realized that in the South white Americans were better integrated with black Americans prior to the enforced “integration” that has been imposed. In those days we were intermingled. Blacks worked with us in our households. They helped produce our meals and raise our children. Many white Southern Americans were partly raised by black American women. I never experienced tension or animosity with black Americans. They knew our problems as they were involved in the household, and we knew theirs, and if resources were available we pitched in to help. These facts have been buried by Hollywood movies and morally superior novelists.
None of us had any fear of entering black areas. Unlike today, we did not expect to be verbally abused, robbed, raped, or murdered for being a “white racist exploiter of black people.”
In those days class was the dividing line, not race. In Atlanta schools were segregated by neighborhood. Middle class kids went to school with middle class kids. Rich kids went to school with rich kids. Poor kids went to school with poor kids. There were integrated neighborhoods. I lived in two—the French Quarter of New Orleans and Old Town Alexandria Virginia. Anyone who remembers the movie shorts of “The Little Rascals” knows that in small Southern towns black kids went to school with white kids because the towns were not big enough for separate neighborhood schools.
Many Southern Americans, black and white, thought that the first civil rights protests were orchestrated by white northern liberals who never tired of demonstrating their moral superiority over what they called “debased white trash in the South.” Rosie Parks, for example, was regarded, rightly or wrongly, as a person used to sharpen the issue. There is convincing evidence that she was put up to protesting Montgomery Alabama bus seating requirements. Here is an explanation from history.com:
“Parks’ refusal was spontaneous but was not merely brought on by her tired feet, as is the popular legend. In fact, local civil rights leaders had been planning a challenge to Montgomery’s racist bus laws for several months, and Parks had been privy to this discussion.” https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/rosa-parks-ignites-bus-boycot (Just how local civil rights leaders were, at least initially, is the question.)
As Atlanta kids we resented the fact that blacks got to sit at the back of the bus. Not only was it easier to get off at the back because you often had to wait in front while people entered, but the large back seat, which went all the way across and the big window was the perfect place for us to make faces at the cars behind. When I asked about the seating arrangements, I was told that everyone shared the bus, women dressed up in their best clothes to go shopping and black laborers who did hard work and left soiled seats that soiled women’s clothes. In other words, the separation was a convention to keep those with soiled clothes from those impeccably dressed. It was the integrated buses that caused the segregated seating. Water fountains and toilets were separate because of fear of infectious disease, which was associated with poorer people with less careful sanitary practices. In those days it was believed that a person could catch venereal disease from toilet seats. There is little doubt that these practices, based in fact or not, fostered segregation. People born into separateness never knew the reasons for it and experienced it as racial segregation. Indeed, these explanations given to me decades ago might simply be rationalizations given to a child. But the fact that no one wants to know tells us that “racism” is an agenda.
If you know nothing about life at the time, about different economic classes using public transportation, you see racism where it is not.
Racism can be real or it can be a creation. We are experiencing the creation of anti-white racism today in the US where there are as many or more anti-white racists as there are anti-black racists. What do you hear most? Whites making racist statements about blacks, or whites making racist statements about whites? White Democrats have demonized 90 million Trump voters as “systemic racists” and “enemies of democracy.” The FBI is hunting down, making lists, and building prosecutions of white Americans who attended the Trump rally, which has been demonized by white Democrats as a “white extremist insurrection.” If white Americans were saying such things about blacks, it would be considered hate speech and hate crimes. Where is “white privilege” when only whites can be demonized and fired for “offending” a black person? How many blacks are fired for offending white people?
How did it come about that today in the US white Americans can be demonized and denied their rights, but blacks cannot? Why is it that today I do not dare enter a black neighborhood?
What most Americans, black and white, do not understand today is that the white northern liberals, enjoying their indulgement in their moral superiority with their black victims in tow, were seen by Southerners as a renewal of Reconstruction, which was a very dark era for white people in the South. The white liberal northerners disrupted the natural integration that was occurring and replaced it with force that rekindled the South’s opposition to Reconstruction.
It was the moral superior white northern liberals using coercion who destroyed the relations between the races.