I spent my junior year bused to Little Rock Central High School. An experimental class on film-making called Project Tiger wrote and produced a movie on the famous integration of LRCHS in '57. I applied and got in on the script-writing team. We went through the archives, and were duly horrified at the racist calling cards and speeches; but we also watched some footage of protestors and I had a little epiphany of sorts. The folks I was watching were no better, and no worse, than the folks I saw on the streets outside. The only real difference was what sorts of evils were fashionable and accepted. Overt racism of that '57 sort (from whites anyway) was almost unthinkable in '72. But in '57 it was almost unremarkable in that town.Fifteen years is not long. It might seem encouraging that we can fix culture so quickly and make people behave. Yet James notes this also implies that the current could be reversed on this, and a culture deteriorate and accept horrible prejudice just as quickly. We are largely wired to go along with our prevailing culture. It is how we get fed, find mates, have friends, protect our children.
I asked James to repost a bit about that, and he unexpectedly tied it in with an older post of mine about a Harper's article in 1941 "Who Goes Nazi." I had forgotten that, but it applies. We look back at sheriffs who gave up prisoners to the mobs in the past and say "I would never do such a thing." Yet businesses and colleges cut people loose when the outrage machine is turned on. Losing your job over a
Update: Plus, there is this from the UK very recently as well.