The Reagan Tokes murder has reminded me of comment made by Sen. Theodore Bilbo (D-MS) during his successful filibuster of FDR’s anti-lynching bill in 1938:
“If you succeed in the passage of this bill, you will open the floodgates of hell in the South. Raping, mobbing, lynching, race riots, and crime will be increased a thousandfold; and upon your garments and the garments of those who are responsible for the passage of the measure will be the blood of the raped and outraged daughters of Dixie, as well as the blood of the perpetrators of these crimes that the red-blooded Anglo-Saxon White Southern men will not tolerate.”
Sen. Bilbo continued with his Back to Africa plan:
“It is essential to the perpetuation of our Anglo-Saxon civilization that white supremacy be maintained and to maintain our civilization there is only one solution, and there is either by segregation with the United States, or by the deportation of the entire Negro race.”
You can find excerpts from that speech in The Encyclopedia of Right-wing Extremism in Modern American History. Theodore “The Man” Bilbo, however, wasn’t a “rightwing extremist.” He was a mainstream and beloved political figure in Mississippi for nearly forty years serving as both governor and senator. He delivered that speech on the floor of the US Senate.
Rep. John Rankin represented Mississippi in the House of Representatives for sixteen terms:
“They whine about discrimination. Do you know who is being discriminated against? The white Christian people of America, the ones who created this nation… I am talking about the white Christian people of the North as well as the South… Communism is racial. A racial minority seized control in Russia and in all her satellite countries, such as Poland, Czechoslovakia, and many other countries I could name. They have been run out of practically every country in Europe in the years gone by, and if they keep stirring race trouble in this country and trying to force their communistic program on the Christian people of America, there is no telling what will happen to them here.(Cong. Rec., April 23, 1952, p. 4320).”
As I have explained here, it is a myth that America is a raceless, cosmopolitan, proposition nation. “Racism” and “anti-Semitism” were just starting to become taboo in the 1940s. In 1941, Rep. John Rankin so unnerved Rep. M. Michael Edelstein of New York that he went into cardiac arrest and literally died of a heart attack on the floor of Congress caused by Rankin’s anti-Semitism:
“A heated debate on the House floor over charges by Rep. John A. Rankin that the Jews were seeking to drag the United States into war had a tragic climax early this afternoon when Rep. M. Michael Edelstein died of a heart attack a few minutes after giving a fervent reply to the accusation.
The debate began when Rankin (Dem. No.) loudly charged that “Wall Street bankers and international Jews” were dragging the country into war. The speech threw the House into turmoil. Edelstein (Den., N.Y.) who was 55 years old and had been suffering from an ailing heart for some time, managed to get the floor and received unanimous consent to answer Rankin. When Edelstein finished speaking, he was cheered. He left the House Chamber, collapsed in a chair in the Speaker’s lobby and died.
The New York Congressmen’s last words in the House were: “Mr. Speaker–Hitler started out by speaking about ‘Jewish brethren.’ It is becoming the play and work of those people who want to demagogues to speak about their ‘Jewish brethren’ and ‘international bankers’
“The last speaker (Rankin), speaking about international bankers, coupled them with ‘their Jewish brethren.’ The fact of the matter is that the number of Jewish bankers in the United States is infinitesimal. It is also a fact that the meeting which took place yesterday on the steps of the Sub-Treasury was entirely controlled by persons other than Jewish bankers.
“I deplore the idea that any time anything happens, whether it be for a war policy or against a war policy, men in this House and outside this House attempt to use the Jews as their scapegoat. I say it is unfair and I say it is un-American. As a member of this House I deplore the allegations because we are living in a democracy. All men are created equal regardless of race, creed or color. Whether a man be a Jew or a Gentile he may think what he deems fit.”
Edelstein’s speech was in reply to the following statement by Rankin, who obtained permission to “revise and extend” his remarks just after the House had convened:
“Mr. Speaker–Wall Street and a little group of our international Jewish brethren are still attempting to harass the President of the United States into plunging us into the European war, and at the same time Communistic elements throughout the country are fomenting strikes, harassing industry and blowing down the defense program.
“The international bankers are so afraid of this peace movement now going on in England–This peace movement now going on behind the lines might take root and this catastrophe brought to a close before they can get us into it–that on yesterday they held a rally in Wall Street and Wall Street bankers made a plea to that effect.
“If Great Britain gets terms of peace that will leave her empire and navy intact, we ought not to stand in her way. We ought to let the world know now, we ought to let the British people know now that we are not going to plunge into this war and send an army to fight on European soil.”
Rankin refused to release the stenographer’s text of his remarks for use by the press until after he had “revised” it. He did not give any outward evidence of being perturbed by Edelstein’s death.
The House adjourned a few minutes after Edelstein’s death. …”
Oh, but you say, that’s not “who we are.”
Anyway, I bring this up only because I have read so deeply into our history. Occasionally, current events will remind of something from the past. In the Jim Crow era, for example, it was widely believed at the South that black males preyed upon innocent White women.
This is why there were lynchings. It is one of the reasons we had segregation. It was believed that black males stalked White women like a deer or something. The most famous scene in Birth of a Nation is when a White woman jumps off a cliff to avoid a black rapist.
This is how our ancestors dealt with a real social problem. They were more than willing to talk about it. As you can see below, they made movies about it. In contrast, it is still taboo to talk about this issue in our own times because the racial and ethnic composition of our elites has changed. It is considered “racist” to bring it up. It is our custom to bury our heads in the sand and pretend it doesn’t happen. Nothing has really changed except for our response to the issue.
And yet, it does happen. There is a staggering disparity in interracial rapes in the United States. The death toll from it continues to mount. The number of victims of black-on-white rape and sexual assault dwarf the total number of lynchings in the Jim Crow era.
Note: The federal anti-lynching bill was never passed. Lynching as a social problem had faded by the time Emmett Till was murdered in 1955. Black-on-White rape is a different story. It is a far more serious problem in our own times than it was under Jim Crow.