Two separate columnists today in the Washington Post and the New York Times used a famous quote from Martin Luther King in their discussion about the Sarah Sanders-Red Hen incident and the question of confronting individual Trumpists in public:
“I have reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block toward freedom is not the White citizen’s councilor or the Klu Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to order than justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension, to a positive peace, which is the presence of justice; who constantly says, ‘I agree with you with the goals that you seek, but can’t agree with your methods of direct action.” — the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., “Letter From Birmingham Jail,” 1963
As a native Southerner, I deliver kudos to Ms. Attiah and Mr. Sugrue for stating the analogy between Trumpism and segregation, between the Trump Republican base and the white bigot segregationists and their Jim Crow laws. I have noted the mirror imaging from the day Trump announced his presidential bid, and it has gained force every day since.
Particularly every time I see a poll reporting 90 percent of Republicans avidly support Trump, I am reminded of the days when an overwhelming majority of Southerners avidly supported segregation as a perfectly acceptable way of life, no matter how many murders, beatings, lynchings, or bombings they encountered. They loved to listen to demagogic speeches full of hatred, venom, and insults–particularly if blacks were the targets. Racist jokes were the order of the day. Saying “Martin Luther Koon” would get you a belly laugh. The attitude toward blacks was summed up as “a ‘N’ word in every woodpile.”
Today, we have Trump’s ravings about an immigrant in every wood pile, and virtually every tweet is full of lies, insults, venom, and divisive words. And the Republicans eat it up, no less than the segregationists cheering on the KKK. But not even the most rabid segregationist thought they could kidnaps children out of the arms of their parents and ship them wily-nilly in the dead of night throughout the country, without remorse. It took the Nazis to do that.