To The Daily Sun,
More than 25 years after the collapse of the U.S.S.R., Gene Danforth's recent letter about the Civil Rights movement was a bit amusing. It seems good, old-fashioned, John Birch Society-style "red-baiting" is alive and well.
Actually, I should probably thank Mr. Danforth for the nostalgia! His diatribe brings back those memories of my childhood, when I grew up on air bases where even we kids knew we were Soviet missile targets. It was also a time when many thought any protest against injustice was a Soviet "plot."
Like many in the 50s and 60s, he blames communist subversion for the Civil Rights movement. Many of the same people said the same about sex ed and even water fluoridation!
I was raised overseas and in the North, but my family roots are in the Deep South. So, I was surprised Mr. Danforth did not also blame "those damn yankee agitators" for "stirring up" black people!
I have known Southern segregationists and most were middle class "nice white folks." None would have ever burned a cross but nevertheless felt that black people would be happy with Jim Crow had it not been for those "outside Northern agitators," supported by the commies.
These people never considered themselves racist. In fact, many said they "loved" the black people who mowed their yards, cleaned their houses, cooked their food, did their laundry and tended their kids. And, they were sure that these people loved them too and none of these "good blacks" would ever "fall" for civil rights.
Mr. Danforth actually uses half-truths. The pro- Soviet Communist Party USA (CPUSA) was involved in the Civil Rights movement. And, it probably did participate to advance its own agenda.
Dr. King and other Civil Rights leaders welcomed anyone who would nonviolently support their cause. There were also Northern and Southern whites, Democrats, Republicans, Protestants, Catholics, Jews, clergy and many others involved. The movement started in churches, not in Moscow.
People like Mr. Danforth have long said Dr. King was "used" by the commies. But who used who? Today we have the Voting Rights and Civil Rights Acts but America never became a Soviet state.
The question Mr. Danforth should ask is not who participated in the Civil Rights movement but rather whether African Americans had real grievances. Wasn't segregation and discrimination a fact?
Weren't there states where authorities used various means, including intimidation and violence, to prevent black people from voting? Couldn't blacks usually be killed with impunity in many states? Wasn't there extreme poverty and lack of opportunity in the African-American community?
Weren't they intelligent enough to want to abolish Jim Crow without "outside communist agitators?"
E. Scott Cracraft