One big difference, if you look closely at the 1957 photo, is the presence of the National Guard. President Eisenhower mobilized hundreds of troops to enforce federal law and prevent rule by lynch mob in Little Rock. Yes, Virginia, there once was a time when presidents were courageous.
I could be wrong, but I don’t remember the media giving the views of white supremacists and pro-slavery advocates as much publicity during the civil rights battles of the 1950s and 60s as they do today. Bigots and segregationists were generally regarded as marginal figures, with nothing but negativity to contribute to the national debate. With the exception of a few prominent politicians like George Wallace, or grotesque buffoons like Lester Maddox, they were pretty much frozen out of the conversation.
Not so today, when everything’s 50/50 and if the President makes a statement you have to give equal time to some ignorant shitbird like Louis Gohmert in the name of “balance.” Maybe that’s why Obama hasn’t acted decisively against sovereign citizens, redneck militias, self-appointed border guards, or mobs of racists at places like the Bundy Ranch and Murrieta. You’d think, more than halfway into his second and last term, he’d have nothing to lose by taking a stand. Obviously, you don’t see the big picture. And frankly neither do I.
I hate jack-booted federal thugs as much as anyone, but if there were ever a time to bring in the troops, this is it. Without sympathizing with them in the least, as far as I can see the federal agencies involved in the latest immigration crisis … Border Patrol, ICE, DHS, etc … are doing their best to comply with laws and regulations governing apprehending, holding, processing, and eventually deporting illegal immigrants. There is a process, and moving these kids to holding centers is, regrettably, part of it.
The right thinks it has the all-time trump answer to those who advocate due process and humane treatment for border crossers. Their answer boils down to one word, which apparently must be typed in all caps: ILLEGAL! I was surprised, though, that one of my Facebook friends played that card when I posted the Little Rock photo there. Here’s how he dismissed the similarity between Elizabeth Eckford in 1957 Little Rock and Central American kids coming into the country today: “She was an ILLEGAL immigrant? I have no prob with immigrants, just ILLEGAL immigrants.”
Oh, lord, where to even start? In 1957, in Arkansas and other southern states, it was illegal for Elizabeth Eckford, or any black person, to attend whites-only schools. To sit at drug store lunch counters. To ride in the front of the bus. To eat vanilla ice cream on any day other than the 4th of July. To fucking vote. Literally illegal … or, as my friend would say, ILLEGAL!
If the illegality of crossing into the USA without a passport means undocumented brown people are fair game for screaming mobs of vigilantes, then I guess the hate-filled white women in the photo at the top of this post were just doing their jobs, right!
Ask yourself this: would any of this be happening if these ILLEGALS! were from Germany or the UK?
Show some spine, Mr. President. Show some spine.
© 2014, Paul Woodford. All rights reserved.