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May 14, 2010

Ruby Anniversary


—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at May 14, 2010 07:21 AM


Posted by: Mike Meyer at May 14, 2010 07:49 AM

JEBUS CRIPES! I have learned more from Tiny Revolution than I learned in college. Which is your fault, Jon. But still. Thanks for this - I have literally never heard of this before.

Posted by: Aaron Datesman at May 14, 2010 12:42 PM

What about the Orangeburg massacre at South Carolina State, which preceded Kent State by several months. Three students murdered by local police firing into a crowd of peaceful protestors, a pregnant person beaten until her baby died, and 31 injured. It was pretty much ignored by the national media at the time and I guess it still is.

Posted by: Emma at May 14, 2010 04:16 PM

It was a busy time for local forces to serve and protect - what did those 60s hoopleheads call it? The Establishment? 40 years and a week ago it was the same shit different story in Augusta, Georgia:

Posted by: buermann at May 14, 2010 06:47 PM

"The Story" on NPR, not a bastion of radicalism, focused on the Jackson State killings today, through the story of the student who initiated the remembrance of the event after returning (it was his hometown, and he's also taught there).

Posted by: Nell at May 14, 2010 09:03 PM

I didn't know about that, and it's important to know, but because we're not legally, official racist now, NPR can run stories like Nell says it did, and everybody is encouraged to feel good about it. The subtext is that we're past all that now, so we can be proud of ourselves. That constantly played subtext is a big part of what has made a neoliberal international economy possible even though it's awfully hard on billions of people. For ideological/marketing reasons, an international economic order like we have wasn't possible with a racialist, segregationist, apartheid regime like the US running the show. That was understood after WWII and became the basis of US State Department policy.

The best legal scholar of the civil rights movement, Michael Klarman, has written about this. The Supreme Court's decision in Brown was strongly influenced by the State Deparment's position that the US was severely hurt in the Cold War by segregation. Despite the unanimous decision in Brown, the Court was actually closely divided when it agreed to hear Brown, and some of the segregationists who finally agreed to change their votes were influenced by the State Deparment's position. That position was, if you want to run the world, you can't be officially racist. The Nazis proved that, and the exposure of their crimes after WWII made it even more impossible. Segregation and Plessy had to go. They were an anchor around the neck of U.S. global economic policy.

When we got rid of our official state racist policies, a lot of people seemed to think we got rid of all our sins. That was a big error. And it is a big error, because it continues. The end of racial segregation in the US was progress, but it wasn't a triumph of the weak over the powerful. The weak are still the weak and still being treated like the weak have always been treated in most ways. The policy of legal segregation changed when the powerful decided it was time to change it, and not a moment earlier.

People who think of the courts as instruments of social change need to know this. Klarman doesn't think that has much basis in history, and American legal history is on his side. Brown is what most people think of as the exception, but it isn't. Racist yahoos on the right are merely encouraged to hate "activist" liberals on the Supreme Court rather than the State Department and corporate titans who endorsed the abandonment of segregation because it threatened our global commercial and national security interests.
In truth, the racist yahoos have been screwed by the global economy too, which Pat Buchanon seems to understand, even though I suspect he doesn't really care about the yahoos all that much more than his ethical role model Nixon did. (I'm sure neither of them were upset about what happened at Jackson State.)

Posted by: N E at May 14, 2010 10:36 PM

Henwood's interview of Dixon is interesting, and some of Dixon's views seem pretty sharp. Dixon is definitely right that some influential people (he mentions David Horowitz said this) likely decided an African-American President like Obama would be a good antidote to Bush's effects on world opinion about the US, and perhaps useful to make African-Americans in the US less antagonistic to the military and government too (though I think that's less important). That certainly makes sense. Everything is about PR now, and the multilateralists who want to keep the US and Europe and Japan united and in charge, (including Team Langley) didn't throw their support behind Obama because they care about working people. They care about keeping the world running well FOR THEM.

What I disagree with Dixon about is the nature of the fraud. I think Obama didn't make the kind of deal with the devil Dixon suggests, and I think he even now makes his own decisions within the small space afforded him. It just isn't a big space. Good politics, poll ratings, the need for funding and elite support, pressure from the Democratic leadership and Senate, the ability of the military and intel folks to cause problems (remember how that underwear bomber was allowed to fly), the media--Obama always gets boxed in and can't easily fix that. You know, the MICFiC. We've developed a great system for preventing Presidential independence. (Not that Obama necessarily wants to be that independent. Hell if I know.)

IMO, part of the reason we've developed such a great system is that folks like Doug Henwood spend a lot of their time taking "perverse enjoyment" watching Fox News (his statement), and they dismiss any serious questions as crazy, because of course like good journalists they've already got everything figured out. They know better than to wade into those deep waters where they might drown in creepy suspicions that make them feel like those wacky Tea Party folks they take perverse enjoyment in watching on Fox and chuckling about without spending too much time figuring them out either. There is nothing more fun than feeling superior to others, not just for racists, but even for folks who think of themselves as being part of "the left."

Posted by: N E at May 15, 2010 09:00 AM

I see Obama as COMPLETELY EQUAL to George W. Bush in all respects except one of those two TAXPAYERS is white and one is black. Just to satisfy MY own sense of EQUALITY, and due to the LACK of interest in general of impeaching George Bush, I could never in good conscience even think to impeach Obama. After all, as even I can see not all look at life as I do and would do it because he is black.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at May 15, 2010 12:02 PM

It's a different world nowadays. When Chief Justice Roberts writes Supreme Court decisions celebrating our color-blind society, you can be sure that pigmentation is no longer the issue.

Posted by: N E at May 15, 2010 12:41 PM

I'm getting old. Orangeburg was several months and two years before Kent State. Feb. 8, 1968, actually.

Posted by: Emma at May 15, 2010 01:38 PM

Thanks for honoring the memory of those killed and wounded at Jackson State. While I'm appalled at most of the MSM for ignoring the Jackson State killings, I am not surprised. It reminds me of the great American pants wetting during the anthrax scare when the MSM's ignoring of the real victims, African American postal workers who were exposed to the anthrax. I also remember my father saying after the Kent State/Jackson State shootings that America had declared war on college students. Scary times.

Posted by: Kathleen at May 15, 2010 07:35 PM