The Party Of Civil Rights, Ctd

Andrew Sullivan —  May 24 2012 @ 4:00pm

Clay Risen raises a new objection to Williamson’s essay:

[Williamson] ignores, or isn’t aware of, the fascinating recent historical work that demonstrates how race and class in the postwar South were complementary, not mutually exclusive.

As Princeton’s Kevin Kruse demonstrates in his seminal history of postwar Atlanta, White Flight, the rising income among whites allowed overt racism to morph into something more subtle, from dominance through social control to dominance through space—in other words, whites just moved to the suburbs, where high property values proved just as effective as Jim Crow in keeping blacks at arm’s length. The new breed of conservative Republican politicians, in turn, realized they could avoid the stain of overt racism by appealing to these middle–class, de facto segregationists: hence the rise of anti?bussing, anti?urban politics in the 1970s and 80s, campaigns in which the words “black” and “segregation” never needed to be mentioned. Any serious discussion of race and American party politics needs to at least engage with such work. Williamson doesn’t.