Wednesday, April 17, 2013

This was segregation

David Frum reviews Crespino's book on arch-segregationist Strom Thurmond :
The old Democratic South was not a very democratic place. In 1932, South Carolina gave 98.03% of its vote to Franklin Roosevelt. Roosevelt gained a further half point in 1936. Yet that astonishing percentage was produced by an equally astonishingly tiny electorate: in a state of 1.7 million souls, only 105,000 cast a ballot in 1932 and only 115,000 in 1936. The one-party landslide was produced by one-party methods: I learned from Crespino that South Carolina did not adopt the secret ballot until the year 1950.The all-white electorate of South Carolina enthusiastically welcomed government intervention in the economy, so long as that intervention concentrated its benefits on whites. Crespino:Southern congressmen were among the most devoted supporters of New Deal largesse, yet they never failed to safeguard the prerogatives of Jim Crow. Categories of work in which African Americans were heavily represented, notably farmworkers and maids, were excluded in the 1930s from laws that created modern unions, set minimum wages and maximum work hours, and instituted Social Security. Southern congressmen ensured that local officials administered New Deal programs, and they defeated efforts to include anti- discrimination provisions in New Deal legislation.(p. 36.)As a state senator in the 1930s, Strom Thurmond aligned himself with this program of energetic government for white benefit. He supported federal job creation programs like the Civilian Conservation Corps and the National Youth Administration, so long as participation was restricted to whites. He supported New Deal farm programs on the same condition.

1 comment:

  1. Not to mention that these State regimes were enforced by secret police and terrorism. The Klan effectively functioned as secret police, since their "invisible kingdom" was congruent with local police and bigshots, and was as eager to enforce conformity among whites as shuffling subservience among blacks. The terrorism was not a hyperbolic metaphor: lynchings by the hundreds, and they often included victims strung up and burned alive --- in front of entire towns of good citizens who cheered, laughed, bought and sold commemorative postcards, and held picnics around the screaming victims. Children were often there to learn the social order. All these horrors have been buried by today's Conservatives in a re-writing of the past as blatant as any Communist denying the Gulag.