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CHRISTOPHER TAYLOR'S BOOKS

Thursday, April 02, 2015

JIM CROW AND ANIMAL FARM

"Either we have liberty and justice for all, or we have it for no one."

Some parts of the USA, primarily in the southeast had strongly institutionalized racism all the way up to the late 60s.  This is summarized in the term "Jim Crow" which is a synecdoche; a literary device which refers to the whole by the part.  Jim Crow legislation was one part of a larger whole of legalized and established racism, mostly against blacks.
There were great struggles in the 50s and 60s to end this, and finally the federal government and many state governments did so, eliminating old laws and implementing new ones.  Most of this is considered the "civil rights" struggles of that time period.
Most people know about this, but what they don't understand is what was going on legally.  By having laws that prevented blacks from voting easily and allowing businesses to discriminate against blacks, setting up separate (inferior) services for blacks, etc what they were doing was creating a special protected class of people: whites.
Jim Crow was all about making sure white people had more power, more legal protection, more freedom, and more advantages than blacks.  It was about creating a separate legal class of humans which the government officially recognized and protected over others.
And the civil rights struggles of the 50s and 60s fought to end this special recognition.  The legislation of that time period was to end the special protected class of whites and bring about equality and even treatment under law.  It did so unevenly and poorly in some cases (Affirmative Action reversed the special class treatment under law, for instance) but the intent was to bring about equality under law.
Now fast forward 50 or more years.  We're in a time when the same movement, the same forces, and in many cases the same people are now fighting to create specially protected classes and crush others under their dominance.  Jim Crow was reversed by a fight to bring about equality, not replace one special group with another.
I can't help but think of Animal Farm where the pigs promise equality by wiping out the humans, then eventually end up creating a different dominant power.  The pigs at the table look awfully human these days.

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