During the Civil Rights Era, the South attempted to use violence and force to resist changes. Most of their efforts backfired, but this was not due to accident or conspiracy. If any part of America is to effectively resist socialism, we must not repeat their mistakes.
So what, then, were their mistakes? There were three that appeared frequently: 1) lethal violence against unarmed opponents, 2) undisciplined violence and 3) threatening violence to defend underhanded tricks. We will look at two case studies, and see how these mistakes negated any potential benefit that came from resisting. The Civil Rights Era is over, but today’s socialists learned these lessons. The task now falls to us to re-learn them.
Case 1: Emmett Till
Emmett Till was a 14-year old black boy from Chicago. Many blacks had migrated North during WWII to work, and their migration marked their change from a rural demographic into an urban one. Till was born and raised in the North, and knew little about the South or Southern etiquette. In August 1955, he visited his great-uncle in Money, Mississippi. While there, he interacted with 21-year old Carolyn Bryant. Some sources say he whistled at her, or flirted. Carolyn herself claimed that he made physical and verbal advances, including grabbing her waist. Others who were present claim there was no interaction at all. Regardless of which is true, Carolyn did not tell her husband, Roy Bryant, about the incident when he returned six days later from a fishing trip. Roy heard about it from someone else who frequented their store.
The next night, Roy and his half-brother, J.W. Milam, accosted a different black boy and brought him to the store to show Carolyn. Carolyn said he was not the one, and they let him go. The two men later found out that they were looking for a boy from Chicago, and where he was staying. The two men arrived at the house at 2:00 AM and woke Till’s relatives in order to identify him. The two men marched Till out to the truck, intending on bringing him to the store, but Till admitted he was the one they were looking for. The two men instead took Till, along with two other black men, to the town of Drew, where they beat him inside a barn. After beating him, they shot him in the head and threw his naked body into the Tallahatchie River, weighing it down with a 70-lbs fan. Emmett’s relatives called the sheriff, and the two men were arrested for kidnapping. The men claimed they had released him, and his body was not found for three days.
After Till’s body was found, both Roy and Milam were tried for murder. The locals and authorities alike were shocked, and demanded justice at first; as time went on, however, opinions became divided, with some supporting Till and some supporting the murderers. With images of Till’s mutilated corpse all over the country, the trial was highly publicized, and the courtroom was completely filled. The two black men who were present on the night of the murder, Collins and Loggins, were put in jail in Charleston, Mississippi, and prevented from testifying at the trial, although witnesses who saw them that night did testify. In the end, the all-white jury acquitted the two men for murder. The results were predictable, and made worse by an interview performed less than a year later in which the two men admitted to killing Till. They were protected against double jeopardy, and so could not be put in jail for either kidnapping or murder.
This story is illustrative because many of the decisions made by the Southerners were bad, and spurred the lazy neutrals to turn against them. Even if Till had violated Mrs. Bryant’s honor, he did not sexually assault her or commit a crime that would merit police action, even by Jim Crow standards. If Roy believed that he must defend her honor, then sneaking into Till’s house at night like a thief or assassin was not an honorable means to achieve this end. For honor cultures, the ritual duel is the path of choice. Roy (who was 24) could have challenged Till to a fair fight, in public, to defend his wife’s honor, and nobody would have batted an eye. A public challenge would show he had nothing to hide, and confident enough in his own manhood to go through with it. If Till declined a public challenge, then he would be publicly humiliated, and the townsfolk could jeer at him and call him a coward until he returned home. The psychological impact of being called a coward everywhere he went would have been far more effective than shooting him.
The second mistake was how they murdered Till. Based on the autopsy, Till was shot in the side of the head, above his right ear, with the bullet exiting near his eye. To honorable men, this is not an honorable deed. Two grown men kidnapping a 14-year old boy in the night and then practically shooting him in the back of the head is cowardly and contemptible. Americans had similar reactions to seeing the Taliban shooting 13-year old girls in the back and then celebrating in the months following 9/11. During the 1956 interview, the two men said they shot Till because while they were beating him, he was not afraid of them and talked back to them. Even Southerners were shocked at this revelation, as it portrayed them as being cowards. According to the murderers’ account, Till was not intimidated by two grown men beating him, and his refusal to be cowed terrified them so much they had to shoot him and then lie about killing him.
The third mistake was committed by the justice system, in a manner similar to the O.J. Simpson verdict. First, the two black men who were present the night of the murder were put in jail in another county to prevent their testifying. Almost immediately, this gives the impression of conspiracy. Secondly, the jury was unlikely to convict the two men from the start, but rather than being open and honest about it, they gave flimsy excuses to cover up their actions. The rest of the country would have still despised them for their decision, but the added deception only made them look worse. Americans had similar reactions to the O.J. Simpson verdict, where a clearly guilty black man was cleared of charges by a mostly-black jury, and a portion of white America stopped being intimidated by accusations of racism. Because of the court’s actions, most Americans believed that the South was untrustworthy, savage and deserved to be humbled. Dishonor made the South look like a rabid dog that needed to be broken.
Case 2: The Little Rock Nine
The Supreme Court ruled that segregation was unlawful in Brown vs. Board of Education in 1954. The Little Rock school superintendent, Virgil Blossom, submitted a plan in 1955 which would have partially desegregated the schools over a prolonged period of time. The NAACP supported the plan, and didn’t have problems with its timing. However, the school boards gerrymandered the school districts under the table, and many felt that their deception might not stop there.
There was no deception, however, when numerous crowds promised to protest and block the entrance to the school, or when Arkansas governor Orbal Faulbus called out the National Guard on September 4th. The mayor of Little Rock, Woodrow Wilson Mann, and the Little Rock school board, however, did not support these actions. Governor Mann issued a statement condemning Faulbus’ deployment of the Guard and later asked Eisenhower to send in the federal troops. Eisenhower initially tried to use diplomacy with Faulbus, and Faulbus asked Eisenhower to be patient. Meanwhile, the National Guard was slowly replaced by the city police, finishing on September 20th. The following Monday (the 23rd), the 9 black students entered the school, and a large crowd gathered outside, numbering over 1,000. The black students were escorted out by the Guard to protect them from the crowd.
That same day (the 23rd), Eisenhower issued Proclamation 3204, ordering all who were ‘obstructing justice’ to disperse. The next day, he federalized the Guard, as the crowds did not comply. The same day (the 24th), he sent the 101st Airborne Division and many more Arkansas National Guard units were ordered to mobilize. The National Guard units were now under orders to assist, rather than resist, the court order and they did so. The 101st slowly began to rotate out, and the National Guard took over their duties by Thanksgiving. The National Guard performed escorts, broke up attacks against the black students by white students, and responded to numerous bomb threats for the next year. By May 1958, the last National Guardsmen were demobilized.
While the black students attended school, there were many physical attacks, in addition to verbal abuse. Governor Faulbus chose to close the schools in 1958, and many whites blamed the blacks for causing it. Unprovoked attacks against the black community increased. Mobs continued to attack black students when the schools reopened in 1959, which made for excellent imagery on television.
The mistakes made here complement those made during the Emmett Till case. The first is threatening violence to defend trickery and deception. The nine students chosen to attend Little Rock Central were chosen for their academic excellence, and the NAACP was willing to accept partial desegregation. The School Board could have easily raised their standards, and turned the issue from one-of-a-kind into one of degree. Instead, they resorted to sneaky tactics, such as gerrymandering, and Governor Faulbus responded to being called out on it with mobilizing the National Guard. This is a primary reason why Little Rock’s mayor asked Eisenhower to intervene. Had Faulbus and the school boards been more discretionary, then the effects of desegregation might have been more limited. Instead, they raised the stakes and lost spectacularly.
The second mistake is undisciplined violence. The National Guardsmen, both before and after being federalized, conducted themselves professionally. Nobody has ever blamed them for what happened, and even after they were federalized the pro-segregationists praised their behavior and lack of partisanship. The crowds, on the other hand, were not so professional. As with Emmett Till, the crowds showcased to the world that they were only brave enough to attack the outnumbered and unarmed. When faced with professional soldiers, the unruly crowds backed down. This event occurred against the backdrop of numerous attacks by the Ku Klux Klan, which was legendary for its cowardice in the face of armed blacks. As many as two armed black veterans of WWII or Korea was often enough to frighten many times their number of Klansmen. Americans’ visceral hatred of Antifa today is no different to their hatred of Klansmen.
Conclusion: If our society is to shake off its pacifism, then there are two roads to take. One is the path we shall call ‘prison violence,’ in which the socialist excels. The other we shall call ‘honor violence,’ and the difference between the two is the existence of ritual duels. A useful comparison is the Vikings and Somalis: both were raider cultures and in a state of constant war. Yet, we admire the Vikings because they had ritual duels; the Somalis never have. A peaceful, isolationist society will not have many outlets for manly violence, but ritual duels are a tried-and-true method to preserve individual fighting spirit.
Prison violence knows how to win, but not how to lose. Honor violence knows how to do both. Prison violence and mob tactics can be crushed by the power of the state, but true honor violence does not die so easily. Prison violence is myopic and cares only for expediency. Honor violence is more discretionary in choosing its battles, and cares more about truth than personal pride or glory. Strong men do not need to ask permission to act, nor do they need to rely on deception. True honor requires both strength and truth.
Anything less is knavery.
-By Michael Decimus
Oh, I'm a good old Rebel, now that's just what I am; For this "Fair Land of Freedom" I do not give a damn! I'm glad I fit against it, I only wish we'd won, And I don't want no pardon for anything I done.