Monday, June 19, 2017

Fifty-three Years Ago Today

Photo: MPR News
On The Writer's Almanac this morning, Garrison Keillor reminded us that on this day in 1964 the United States Congress passed the Civil Rights Act, outlawing all segregation on the basis of race on the United States. To quote Keillor:
The bill was quickly passed in the House of Representatives, but Southern Democrats filibustered it in the Senate for almost three months. [President Lyndon] Johnson made personal telephone calls to many of the Southern Democrats, and told them that they would be sorry if they didn't drop their opposition. He reminded the Southerners that he was the first Southerner serving as president since before the Civil War, and if they ruined his agenda, they might not see another Southern president for another hundred years.
The bill finally came up for a vote in the Senate on this day in 1964. Every senator was present, including Senator Clair Engle of California, who was dying of a brain tumor and couldn't speak. In order to vote yes, he pointed to his eye. Johnson needed 67 votes to break a filibuster. He got 71.
You can read the full transcript or listen to the entire episode, which includes a sweet poem about the yellow Lab, by clicking here.


  1. In signing this legislation, LBJ chose to ignore a risk to Democrats which later manifested as the south's drift towards the party of Lincoln.

    But seeing as the Civil Rights Act prohibited governmental discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin, one thing the nation was never able to square was its simultaneous commitment to affirmative action (c.f. Abraham Lincoln and "40 acres and a mule"). For all the resulting benefits of affirmative action, technically and philosophically it commits the self-same litany of sins which are forbidden by the Civil Rights Act.

    As always, the paradoxes abound ...

  2. Following is nearly the same list as the Civil Rights Act from today's unanimous SCOTUS decision, in Matal v. Tam:

    "Speech that demeans on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, age, disability, or any other similar ground is hateful; but the proudest boast of our free speech jurisprudence is that we protect the freedom to express 'the thought that we hate.'”

    Government must not discriminate except from among the narrowest of speech categories.

    The City's Conservation Advisory Council might learn something from this, even if the speech which is so despised that it's censored by members is entirely scientific in nature (/irony alert).

    1. One CAC member with little or no science training still had to justify his vote scientifically, but rather than recuse himself (his pet projects stand to gain from the same grantor he dared not oppose by voting No), he dispatched the irritating empirical issues in two ways.

      First by merely appearing to understand where others could not: the signatories of a petition the CAC avoided for months could not "fully understood what was happening." There was no further explanation probably because he couldn't understand. Second, the same fellow complained it was hard to consider the science "when it's all mixed up with name calling." Thus a new expectation of trigger warnings, surely indoctrinated at some elite school, was allowed to substitute for content. Because no one present questioned the claim of the name-calling (they should have), science was forfeited so that a City official might enjoy an attempt to regulate public speech.

      Like the proverbial slow-boiled frog totally unaware of its surroundings, our collective ability to detect hypocrisy is now so dull that few in the room could detect any problem (admittedly exacerbated by the culture's near-total ignorance about the scientific method).

      Back to those paradoxes which soon attached to the excellent Civil Rights Act and subsequent Voting Rights Act, Hudson is like a litmus paper for idiotic constructions soon to be normalized everywhere.

      Recall that it was only last year in Hudson that the demographic which benefited most from the 1965 Act - aside from the immense benefit to all - rejected the central principle at the heart of the Voting Rights Act: "One Person One Vote."

      In the first case above, the mere appearance of fairness by a City official was actually a subtle form of coercion. Though it appeared to be a reasonable position (employing voice modulation, etc.), it was wholly counterfeit, and patently anti-free speech.

      In the second example ... can anyone understand the second example?!! Was it pure self-interest? It sure looked that way, but who knows.

      Looking back at our culture's greatest advances lately perverted into the strangest of shapes, how do we diagnose our strange moment aside from noticing that down is up and up is down?