The intellectual theorists of white race privilege recognized that such head-on confrontations wouldn’t protect the old Jim Crow order for long. The problem was democracy itself: American opinion was turning against Southern racism.
Democracy often comes down to honest math. After the 1965 passage of the federal Voting Rights Act, 20th century America seemed to be on a path toward the democratic ideal of “one person, one vote.” Yet the 21st century has seen enormous reversals of this hard-won progress. Not only have two oligarchic GOP presidents been elected without the popular vote, but crude efforts to suppress ballot access at all levels have become commonplace.
What set the machinery of formal democracy lurching backward so dramatically? In Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America, Nancy MacLean traces the origins to the backlash against Brown v. Board of Education. White supremacists vowed “massive resistance,” with Virginia’s Prince Edward County going so far as to shutter its entire public school system for several years.
keyboard shortcuts: V vote up article J next comment K previous comment