A brief history of American empathy

First_Colored_Senator_and_Representatives

Eric Loomis:

As I often tell my students, there are only 2 times in all of American history when enough white people cared about black rights to do anything about it, from about 1863-1870 and from about 1954-1965. Other than that, most white people have generally supported the oppression of black people. And at the very least, the reaction to the Obama presidency leading up to and including the Trump campaign shows that demonizing of people of color is still a very potent political weapon in the United States. So will everyday white people come to believe that the police do commit wanton violence against black people? You can color me very skeptical, even if Paul Ryan and Newt Gingrich are even admitting it. The rank and file white folks who vote Republican simply don’t want to hear this. To them, the police are heroes precisely because they protect the good people of the community from those scary black men who want to do unmentionable things to us.

This is correct. Ulysses Grant may have been a credulous imbecile who hired cronies, charlatans, and embezzlers, but when it came to protecting what were then called the freedmen he didn’t hesitate, thanks to the options available to him through the Ku Klux Klan Act. Consequently, the Klan vanished as a menace until the 1920s. I don’t tend to name Grant among America’s worst presidents, not when Grover Cleveland still places among the good ones and the once sainted Woodrow Wilson resegregated the federal government.

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