Intl. Notebook Jul 3 2017
Deep inside the civil rights movement.

Above we have an issue of The National Insider that hit newsstands today in 1966, and as you can see the cover is given over to Sheriff Jim Clark, who tells the story of how he saw civil rights activists involved in an orgy in Selma, Alabama. Clark actually writes the article himself, and it's mostly a defense against unflattering portrayals of him in the national press. He claims the accounts are part of “one of the most effective propaganda campaigns since Josef Goebbels sold Adolf Hitler to 70 million Germans—and destroyed a nation in the process.” It's always best to drop Hitler into the narrative early, Godwin be damned. Clark goes on: “The civil rights organizations and their hired agitators who descended on Selma knew that the sheriff must enforce the law and maintain order. They knew, and I knew, that I was playing into their hands. I was the heavy. They were the martyrs.”

This is fascinating stuff. Clark thought protestors were in Selma not to seek redress for abuses, but to be deliberately arrested. It's a classic case of constructing an alternate reality to confirm one's own prejudices. Civil rights protestors risk arrest, and are willing to be arrested, but do not prefer it. They prefer notice from the target of their protest, and news coverage of the event in order to spread their point of view. They don't hire agitators. It's an accusation always leveled, and not once proven. By Clark's formulation, public protest of any sort is not about seeking rights, but creating chaos. Conveniently, then, the only way to avoid creating chaos is not to protest at all, and accept one's lot in life. See how that works? Clark says, “I disapproved of civil rights protestors because they put themselves beyond the law.” But of course the law was what denied them equality, therefore no petition for redress could happen anywhere except beyond the law.

But what of the orgies? Here's Clark: “Dozens of Selma and Dallas County people swore to seeing sex acts between whites and Negroes. White teenaged girls making love in public with Negro men. White men dressed as priests making love with Negro girls. Make no mistake about it—sex and civil rights go together.” Of course this is always tactic number two. After refusing to accept the purpose behind civil protest, you then disparage the people. The fact that Clark went in a sexual direction shows what was really on his mind. “Sex and civil rights go together.” Which is to say, if blacks achieve the rights they seek, we can kiss our white girlfriends and daughters goodbye. It's almost comedy material, except it's hard to laugh knowing so many people were swayed by this argument. Sex is no longer overtly used as a propaganda weapon, but the smearing of rights protestors continues.

Taking a step back and looking at it from the reality based world, we cannot think of any instances where civil rights protestors risked their safety and freedom fighting oppression that was a figment of their imaginations. In every case the protestors were correct, from southern Alabama to South Africa. Sometimes it's ethnic majorities that are oppressed, but never the economically dominant. Sometimes the economically oppressed and economically dominant are the same ethnicity, leading to scenes such as those during the Great Depression when white police violently broke up the protests of the white unemployed. But in order to believe that rights protestors would risk their already tenuous status over a non-issue, one already has to have a low opinion of them. The upshot of Clark's article is that the Selma marchers had no true grievances. We know today that's false. Similarly, there are people who would have us believe that today's civil rights protesters have no valid grievances. This again, is demonstrably false. We'll have more from The National Insider later.


History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
March 20
1916—Einstein Publishes General Relativity
German-born theoretical physicist Albert Einstein publishes his general theory of relativity. Among the effects of the theory are phenomena such as the curvature of space-time, the bending of rays of light in gravitational fields, faster than light universe expansion, and the warping of space time around a rotating body.
March 19
1931—Nevada Approves Gambling
In the U.S., the state of Nevada passes a resolution allowing for legalized gambling. Unregulated gambling had been commonplace in the early Nevada mining towns, but was outlawed in 1909 as part of a nationwide anti-gaming crusade. The leading proponents of re-legalization expected that gambling would be a short term fix until the state's economic base widened to include less cyclical industries. However, gaming proved over time to be one of the least cyclical industries ever conceived.
1941—Tuskegee Airmen Take Flight
During World War II, the 99th Pursuit Squadron, aka the Tuskegee Airmen, is activated. The group is the first all-black unit of the Army Air Corp, and serves with distinction in Africa, Italy, Germany and other areas. In March 2007 the surviving airmen and the widows of those who had died received Congressional Gold Medals for their service.
March 18
1906—First Airplane Flight in Europe
Romanian designer Traian Vuia flies twelve meters outside Paris in a self-propelled airplane, taking off without the aid of tractors or cables, and thus becomes the first person to fly a self-propelled, heavier-than-air aircraft. Because his craft was not a glider, and did not need to be pulled, catapulted or otherwise assisted, it is considered by some historians to be the first true airplane.
1965—Leonov Walks in Space
Soviet cosmonaut Aleksei Leonov leaves his spacecraft the Voskhod 2 for twelve minutes. At the end of that time Leonov's spacesuit had inflated in the vacuum of space to the point where he could not re-enter Voskhod's airlock. He opened a valve to allow some of the suit's pressure to bleed off, was barely able to get back inside the capsule, and in so doing became the first person to complete a spacewalk.
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