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NeoNotes — Civil Rights acts - updated

"How does a law against racial and religious discrimination protect selected groups above all others?"

Have you been paying attention? Since the MLK assassination, that has pretty much the push of every civil rights group in America. Each wants to be at the head of the line when the privilege is handed out.

One lays the groundwork for the other. Both destroy equal rights.

You've missed my point.

I bend over backwards not to break people into labeled groups unless I must. You keep writing about "blacks" and Jews and "whites" and Christians and I keep seeing humans.

In my experience, breaking people into labels just makes the divisions deeper. I place greater faith in what we share than in any tribal identity. When humanity is at our best, we transcend what separates us. Our rights are beyond skin color and creed.

Do you really believe that you can stop discrimination by holding a gun to someone's head and saying "thou shalt not?"

Do you think that for one second that act will change someone's mind even as they do what they're told under threat of force?

Do you trust that there will be a better tomorrow because you tried to control what someone is allowed to think?

People choose their morality and ethics. You can't do it for them. They will only resent you if you try.

“The Civil Rights acts were watersheds in American culture.”

No, they weren't. If the Civil Rights Act of 1866 had worked, there would have been a need for another in 1871, in 1875, in 1957, in 1964, a Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Fair Housing Act of 1968, the Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1987, and the Civil Rights Act of 1991.

Government is reactive. What individuals chose was choose is much more important than the credit that politicos claim. Lasting change only happened happens when enough people got angry enough to demand change.

Stoplights work not because of the threat of force but because of the perceived benefit.

You're expanding the scope to include the 13th Amendment. Out of curiosity, why not the 14th and 15th? They were at least as important. Ah well, your statement was “The Civil Rights acts were watersheds in American culture.” That doesn't include the 13th Amendment, and if you pull that out I will pull out the whole Constitution, and the exchange won't end until we get back to Hammurabi.

Why focus on the 1960s versions? The 1964 act is the one that modern Americans have been conditioned to think was important. But when it comes to public accommodation, the 1875 act was the groundbreaker. Of course it was overturned by the USSC in 1883 because Congress wasn't supposed to regulate the conduct of individuals.

You should be asking if changing the law fixed the problem, then why was it necessary to have so many Civil Rights Acts? The people who pay attention to the law are not the problem. If it's a good law, if it's a fair law, if it's a just law, most people don't need to be told what to do. They're already doing it. As the saying goes, you can't legislate morality.

The watershed changes that restructured American society had already started before the 1964 act. The Superman radio show did the anti-KKK storyline “Clan of the Fiery Cross” in 1946. Jackie Robinson started for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. The Montgomery bus boycott was in 1955. The Woolworth lunch counter sit-in was in 1963. The March on Washington was in 1963. The FBI investigated the Mississippi murders in 1964 to the horror of the nation.

Government wasn't the solution. Government reacted to what was happening. But the real change started with good people saying "No, that's not right. Let's fix it."

No American government has sufficient manpower to enforce law. All law is voluntary until enough people decide it's bad law.

“The Civil Rights acts were watersheds in American culture.”

Your phrase not mine. You didn't mention the time frame, and as I pointed out there have been several civil rights acts. Choosing one as the definitive simply shows ignorance.

Except for Prohibition, the Constitution controls and restricts government. Each amendment isn't just another law.

You are deliberately ignoring all the events that created the demand for a change in law. I listed some of the major ones, there are dozens more in the history books. There are thousands if you actually talk to people who were there. The changes in American society happened despite the law, not because of it.

History changes not because of Great People doing Great Things, but because of ordinary people choosing extraordinary things.

Stoplights only work because they are voluntary.

Think about it.

There's no cop waving a gun around at every stoplight. Before the cameras (now on their way out, thankfully), a driver was on his own. He could break the law, but it was in his best interest if others didn't break the law trying to run a light. Tit for tat. A bit of the Ethic of Reciprocity.

The late humorist Douglas Adams wrote about a starship shaped like an Italian bistro that used a Somebody Else's Problem drive. It worked because no one paid attention to the math and science, it was literally Somebody Else's Problem.

Adams was skewering many social issues. When government takes "responsibility," the average person stops paying attention. It's no longer important. It's Somebody Else's Problem, and if the average person has to pay attention, then government is to blame for falling down on the job.

If government is responsible for dealing with injustice, racism, fair housing, wedding cakes, and failing schools, then it's Somebody Else's Problem. That's what the average person expects government to deal with.

But if government isn't officially In Charge, then it's important and the average person will worry about it. That's when things get better. When the average person takes responsibility for making it better, it's not Somebody Else's Problem. It's their problem.

“Except that history shows that it took government action to defeat fascism…”

That's a common assumption and I don't blame you for making that mistake. Government is reactionary, it can't do anything successfully (and certainly not win a war) unless enough of the citizens believe that change is necessary and worth the sacrifice.

“…and federal action to end racial segregation and minority barriers to voting.”

Except government put those barriers into place to begin with. Just as one example, Woodrow Wilson ordered the segregation of the armed forces. The battle for civil rights was won at the lunch counters and in street demonstrations long before Congress wrote any legislation. Government took credit for changes that were already underway. The times, they were a changin', and it wasn't because of government leadership.

These events preceded the change in law. There wasn't a group of masterminds planning and tracking every move on a chalk board. There wasn't a planned marshaling of public opinion, it happened anyway. Self-organizing, from the bottom up, a grass roots effort without a single leader or a single agenda. Just a bunch of people deciding something was wrong and that they could do something about it.

Government responded, reluctantly. Government is reactive. When American government tries to be proactive "for your own good," it fails spectacularly.

I probably should point out that the public accommodations law, among other things, caused failed crime-ridden projects that no one wanted to live in.

Government intervention made things worse. It's the failure of good intentions. Meanwhile, the rate of social change slowed because Government Was Responsible. Somebody Else's Problem.

Cheaters prosper in the short term.

Studies of The Prisoner's Dilemma show that in the long term tit for tat is the winning strategy. It's not surprising, considering that game theory is derived from observing human behavior. Human behavior incorporates some hard-wired survival strategies that we share with many other species. The Ethic of Reciprocity is the keystone of Western Civilization. Cooperation may be what enabled multi-cellular life to begin with.

It's not just limited to game theory. It's history. It's amazing progress. It's change with a feedback loop. It's life.

My favorite version of the EoR? “Be excellent to each other! And party on!”

Segregation was ending before the law was passed. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 just made it illegal, but segregation was already ending.

Jim Crow laws (and yes, they were laws) mandated segregation. They were immoral and one of the best examples of how government is reactive.

Remember, public accommodation laws made possible eminent domain seizures of private property to build public housing projects that soon became crime ridden.

I said segregation was ending, I didn't say it had ended. And it happened without an Official Government Stamp of Approval, or some politico preening and virtue signaling while planning how to take credit.

As Lawrence W. Reed said, It constantly amazes me that the defenders of the free market are expected to offer certainty and perfection while government has only to make promises and express good intentions.

The fight against segregation slowed after the 1964 act. That's why they tried the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Fair Housing Act of 1968. The message was clear. There are problems but your Government Is Taking Care Of It. You don't have to worry. It's Somebody Else's Problem. You don't have to be responsible. Just put the right people in charge. Give more money. Give more authority. Sacrifice more rights. Repeat until we get it right. And don't ask too many questions.

As you pointed out, passing the law didn't solve segregation either. But it sure slowed down the change.

Stars above, I listed specific events that clearly showed MASSIVE social changes were underway well before the 1964 act. I told you how to find more examples. All this can be verified with any history book no matter what the propaganda that says the changes happened because of government.

These changes happened despite existing law. You haven't disputed the timeline. You haven't disputed that government was reactive. You haven't even disputed the events I selected.

Earth below, all you are doing is ignoring the proof that I offered. All you are doing is insisting that government in it's wisdom led Americans out of racism and segregation, despite the plain and simple fact that government perpetuated racism and made segregation possible. People were more segregated after the 1964 act. Or have you forgotten the Watts riots? Have you forgotten the failed public housing projects (1994 Atlanta, the scandals in Brooklyn and Harlem, the problems that HUD has admitted to since the 1990s) that I pointed out already?

Segregation didn't end magically in 1964. You can't legislate morality. Creating a "protected group" just takes rights away from everyone else. Can you dispute these three statements? Can you dispute anything else I have said?

"However, Mississippi and Alabama were not going to dismantle segregation in 1964 without federal action."

You don't know that.

But at least you're acknowledging that social change was happening despite the law and before the 1964 act.

Which (finally) brings us back to my second post in this discussion.

“The simple answer is that moral responsibility is always a personal choice. You can't compel virtue or it ceases to be virtue.”

People don't do good because of the law. People do good because it's the right thing to do. People choose good because it makes the World a little better than it was. It's the choice and the action that makes a responsible adult.

Anything that government does to reduce the individual choice or individual action diminishes the person.

The law has to be uniform. It has to apply to everyone equally. No exceptions, no waivers, no "protected groups." People must take responsibility for the consequences of their choices and actions.

There is no other way that everyone can have a better tomorrow.

Some state governments were resisting the end of segregation. And it wasn't just the southern states. You really should take a closer look at the lead up to the Watts riots, or what was happening in Chicago. But people even in those "Unenlightened Southern States" were making up their own mind and changing.

Civil rights, uncapitalized. It wasn't properly Official™ until government decided to claim credit. After government passed the law, that's when most people stopped paying attention. Somebody Else's Problem. That's really key to understanding what is happening today. That's why public accommodation laws are a bad idea. Individuals don't take responsibility if government is "in charge."

Shall we list all the things that businesses and companies do that is against the law? Even if sometimes it is bad law. Successful businesses pay much more attention to paying customers than they do to the law.

You really don't seem to understand. Government is supposed to protect your freedom, not regulate your life.

I argued that the Civil Rights acts were unnecessary and the needed change was already happening. I also argued that once the legislation was passed and the politicos were patting themselves on the back, the rate of change slowed. I also said that if people thought the government was supposed to take care of morality, they wouldn't assume responsibility for their own behavior and the consequences.

Can you dispute those statements?


There would not have been Federal action without individuals making a stand.

Government is not moral. Government is reactive. Government is not your friend no matter how much the politicos promise that it is.

People saw something wrong. People decided to do something about it. Then politicos noticed and claimed credit.

You keep forgetting that for the better part of a century, the FedGovs were content to let Jim Crow laws stay on the books. The same government institutions that were cluck-clucking in 1964 were busy looking the other way in 1959 Despite existing Federal law, no one was enforcing it.

Those "Jim Crow states" were allowed to perpetuate racism and segregation by the same Federal government that you credit with stopping it. So where was this all wise and enlightened government in the 1950s? The 1930s? The 1880s?

Congress would not have done anything.

In fact (and pay attention to this bit), Congress didn't do anything until the public did most of the work AND demanded that Steps Be Taken.

The laws were not the watershed. The watershed was the actions that individuals took. And then the actions that ere inspired by those actions. And so on and so on. Individuals chose to make a difference, just as the civil rights leaders were asking them to. These actions weren't sanctioned by government until after the fact.

The watershed, the miracle was always based in individual choice and action. Government didn't start it and would have ignored it if they could get away with it. Government claimed credit afterwards. What you are writing is straight from the government propaganda.

It wasn't about legislation. It wasn't about Congresscritters making deals in smoke filled rooms. It wasn't about a legislative majority.

Civil rights acts had been tried before, they didn't work. Things were changing before 1964, they didn't magically fix themselves after the law.

Jim Crow happened BECAUSE of state and local government while the Federal government pretended it didn't happen. The Little Rock Nine didn't happen until three years after Brown vs. Board of Education. All the politicos except Eisenhower were willing to prolong segregation.

Public pressure had nothing to do with it. Like most great moments in American history, ordinary people chose the right thing and to hell with what the elected officials thought or did. Americans have been doing that for almost 250 years. It's a part of our mythology. How many of our great stories and films are about the underdog taking a stand and winning?

Consensus views are no proof of validity. Look at the Fugitive Slave Act. Laws against interracial marriages were legal (by consensus) until 1967. To this day, police in most states can seize property that may have been part of a criminal act without having to prove the crime occurred or if the property was connected.

History also gets it wrong. One of the best selling American history books focuses on class conflict almost exclusively. Many people in this country believe that All That Is Good & Right In the World happens because of Christianity. These are only threads of a much larger tapestry. Just because something is popular doesn't mean it's true. Surely you recognize the irony in that as you criticize Jim Crow laws.

The democratic process is just that. a process. It has no worth as an institution except to defend freedom. When it stops doing that, it should be junked.

That's not what I said. You left off part of the quote.

“Public pressure had nothing to do with it. Like most great moments in American history, ordinary people chose the right thing and to hell with what the elected officials thought or did.”

People weren't doing it for the politics. They weren't hoping to influence legislatures and politicos. They were making a stand because they thought it was the right thing. The only people they wanted to influence were their fellow citizens.

I wasn't the one who appealed to consensus or the democrat process.

Both are absolutely irrelevant. Neither has virtue because of the label. Most importantly, neither is morally right in this situation.

In The Illuminatus! Trilogy by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson, there's a description of a reproduction of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. It's exactly like you expect except there's a caption, "Think for yourself, schmuck!"

You can't trust what the politicos and historians tell you. They each have their separate agendas. They need you to believe the Great Man on a White Horse myth. If ever there was a time when the ordinary person made a profound, undeniable, and fundamental change in society, it was in the 20th Century civil rights movement. It didn't happen in the Capital building. It happened when a woman refused to give up her seat on a bus. It happened when a group of well dressed and well disciplined men faced down a mob and armed police officers. It took place at the Lincoln Memorial in front of a huge crowd. It happened when one man stood in front of a police squad and said "No." Congress and the Federal government had nothing to do with these acts. These actions and thousands more along with the faith of all those people, that's what changed the world.

That is a diversion.

You claimed that the watershed movement was the Civil Rights act, implying it that it was the 1964 act. I pointed out that there were many acts, and if they had worked there would not be more than one.

I pointed out that the change came before the legislation and the legislation was in reaction to that change.

You keep claiming that the South never would have changed without outside intervention. But you avoid acknowledging that Jim Crow was legally imposed on people who didn't want it. That moral failure led to people acting against the the legislation that bound them.

I think you have taken this about as far as you can.

Summing up, here are my points. Public accommodation laws were a mistake. Civil rights acts had been tried before, they didn't work. Civil rights happened because of individual choices and actions and not because of legislation. Government claimed credit after the process was underway. Government "solving" civil rights is a lie taught in our public (government) schools to keep people dependent.

NeoNotes are the selected comments that I made on other boards, in email, or in response to articles where I could not respond directly.

ETA: The conversation this is drawn from keeps going on and on for almost two weeks as I write this. It's already provided two NeoNotes. I will keep adding as long as it goes on.

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