Real Government Oppression From Selma to Ferguson

One of the continuing themes of this blog since I took it over has been to expose the constant efforts of conservatives to pose as victims and martyrs, whether it’s via overtly stupid conceits like the “War on Christmas,” or the more complex issues involved in the IRS “scandal,” where somehow obtaining tax-exempt “social welfare” status for a political group trying to hide its insanely rich donors is treated as a fundamental right whose temporary denial is a terrifying lurch into fascism.

It occurred to me while thinking of my latest weekly column at TPMCafe that the best way to put the perpetual pity party of conservative victimization in the right perspective was to compare it to real government oppression–you know, the kind that exists when your own government’s police force is trying to beat you half to death for trying to peacefully assemble. Once focused on the “government oppression” of Jim Crow, it became easy to find examples of conservative politicians back then who sounded exactly like today’s “constitutional conservatives” in whining about the tyranny of a federal government that wouldn’t let them preserve their sacred “customs.” And the parallels get uncomfortably close when you examine the connections between police behavior in Selma and in Ferguson, Missouri, and the fury there against “outside agitators” and federal persecution of the people who run that town and its police forces for the benefit of its white minority.

Anyway, you can check it out here, and special props to anyone who shares my memories of watching Lester Maddox on TV blubbering about “my government taking my business away” when he closed his restaurant down rather than serving African-Americans.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.