by Max Brantley
As eLWOOD has observed, the Times hardly needs me around with Leslie, David, Lindsey, Ernie, Jennifer, etc. doing such fine work. But it is Tuesday, our deadline day for another paper, so I'm throwing in an item or two from the Cashel library, just below the Rock of Cashel.
Here's an interesting piece on the Wall Street Journal op-ed page today by Hoover Institute's Shelby Steele on what Little Rock meant, in addition to triumph over the mob, a defeat of "white entitlement" and federal supremacy. I hope the link works. But some excerpts:
So Americans watched by the millions and, in this watching, saw something that would change the country fundamentally. Everyday for weeks they saw white people so consumed with racial hatred that they looked bestial and subhuman. When white was a confident power, it could look like propriety itself, like good manners. But here, in its insecurity, it was grotesque and shocking. Worse, it was there for the entire world to see, and so it broke through the national denial. The Little Rock crisis revealed the evil at the core of segregation, and it launched the stigmatization of white Americans as racists that persists to this day. After Little Rock whites stood permanently accused. They would have to prove a negative -- that they were not racist -- in order to claim decency. And this need to forever beg one's innocence is the very essence of white guilt.
For the most part, this is how white America came to handle its new accountability in the civil rights era. The country got busy self-consciously redeeming itself. Redemption would be our big, ingenious achievement. If freedom and opportunity and wealth had always been the special mandates of American life, suddenly redemption was added to the list. And, as the civil rights movement worked its way through many more Little Rocks, as a movement for women's equality burst forth, and as the Vietnam War came to be held against America, the idea of American evil expanded and, thus, redemption became more and more entrenched as a national mandate.
In other words, he seems to say, Little Rock gave birth to political correctness.
By the way, I think this is the last day to look at the Emancipation Proclamation at the Clinton Library. Walk-ins can be accommodated from 5-9:30 p.m.