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For people of the time our parents and grandparents, it was normal to be racist.

By Curt_Anderson
September 9, 2021 9:21 am
Category: History

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I happened to hear a story on Sound Beats the other day about a boxer of the early 20th century named Harry Willis. Harry Willis fought for some twenty years between 1911 and 1932 and at one time held the crown as the "Colored Heavyweight Champion".

A contemporaneous boxer, Jack Dempsey, refused to defend his heavyweight title againste Willis and other black boxers. Dempsey had his own color line. Dempsey was one of the most popular athletes of that time and one of the most popular boxers ever.

I mentioned this story not because it was remarkable but because at that time it was considered quite unremarkable. In the 1920s Dempsey's overt racism was not generally considered outrageous or an act of cowardice.

Dempsey is an Irish name. It's quite possible that Dempsey's parents and grandparents were victims bigotry against the Irish. "Help wanted. Irish need not apply" was a sign commonly seen in the windows of shops and stores in nineteenth-century America.

Racism and bigotry of all sorts were common in America. After all, we started this country with slavery as a major part of our labor force. The good news is that we are not as bigoted or as racist as our parents, grandparents and ancestors. However, it's quite possible that our descendants will judge our behavior critically.


Cited and related links:

  1. en.wikipedia.org

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Comments on "For people of the time our parents and grandparents, it was normal to be racist.":

  1. by Ponderer on September 9, 2021 9:42 am

    Well said, Curt. You nailed it.


  2. by HatetheSwamp on September 9, 2021 9:47 am

    Curt,

    I don't buy it. To add the suffix IST to a root, in my opinion, suggests that that thing or characteristic is a driving force in an individual's life to the point that that thing, at least nearly, often entirely, consumes that person. It demands radicalism...

    ...as I understand English tongue.

    -------

    What I demanded of Donna is among the most philosophically important questions...the question of how human language, which is an artificial human creation,...is used.


  3. by HatetheSwamp on September 9, 2021 9:48 am

    Well said, Curt. You nailed it.

    Uh uh.


  4. by Ponderer on September 9, 2021 9:49 am

    It's hysterical how pb and other conservative Republicans will distort the living shit out of something someone says in order to disagree with and attack it.

    Well done, pb! You are an exemplar for conservatives everywhere.


  5. by Donna on September 9, 2021 9:50 am
    Hts doesn't handle uncomfortable truths very well.


  6. by Ponderer on September 9, 2021 9:53 am

    "What I demanded of Donna is [a bunch of meaningless obfuscation having nothing to do with the subject of racism, which I am employing to distract people from the fact that I can't create a salient argument against hers in any other way]." -pb



  7. by HatetheSwamp on September 9, 2021 10:07 am

    Hts doesn't handle uncomfortable truths very well.

    Ah, it always comes down to one of two things. Either,

    1. You are superior to me,
    2. I am inferior to you.

    The point remains, Donna, in the posts that launched this, you were using the term, racist, to condemn others. I've made that assertion in about a half dozen of my posts and you never objected.

    I've nearly worn my phone out asking you, simply, to splain what you mean when you say that ALMOST ALL of the people of your parents generation were racists.

    You said it. Clearly, you said it with conviction, and meaning.

    How can I handle an "uncomfortable truth," when you won't define for me what that truth is?

    For the longest time, I have rated you as the SS poster with the highest level of integrity, as I've told you before.

    I don't understand why you're trying to float like a butterfly and sting like a bee...and failing, over this.


  8. by Ponderer on September 9, 2021 10:11 am

    pb's THIRD GRADE ELEMENTARY TEACHER: "Billy, can you tell us what sixteen times four is?"

    pb: "Why sixteen times four? Why not ten times four? Or three times four? Or even a million times four? Is adding things together like this all the time really necessary? And what is so important about the number four for that matter? What are you trying to indoctrinate us into with all this adding and subtracting nonsense we will never even need? Why are you assaulting our rights by dictating that we answer the way YOU want us to answer aqnd penalizing us if we don't answer the way you want us to? Why must we believe that putting two things together can only have one result, just because you tell us it only can?

    Now don't get me wrong. I don't mind answering the question myself, but I think that it is an infringement on the constitutional rights of every student in this classroom... as Americans... to demand unanimity and conformity from us like this. It's downright FASCIST if you ask me."

    pb's THIRD GRADE ELEMENTARY TEACHER: "So..... what is the answer to the math problem I gave you, Billy...?"

    pb: "I already told you several times. I am not going to waste my valuable time dredging up answers to old questions and repeating myself."


  9. by HatetheSwamp on September 9, 2021 10:16 am

    po,

    When Donna condemned ALMOST ALL of the people of her parents' generation as racists, what did Donna mean?


  10. by Donna on September 9, 2021 10:16 am
    My wife nailed it.



  11. by HatetheSwamp on September 9, 2021 10:26 am

    Donna,

    When you condemned ALMOST ALL of the people of your parents' generation as racists, your words meant something. Clearly, you intended those words to be read, and understood.

    What did you want your readers to apprehend from your words?

    Why won't you splain?

    This is so unlike you.


  12. by Ponderer on September 9, 2021 10:40 am

    What does "almost all" mean.......?





    Are you seriously telling me that you are ignorant of what the phrase "almost all" means?





    I am at a loss as to how to respond to you, for fear that you won't understand many of the common phrases from the English language that I might utilize to explain it to you. But I'll give it a go....

    In order to give you a thorough explanation, I researched a bit by doing a Google search for What does "almost all" mean?.

    Here's what Wikipedia says about it...

    "In mathematics, the term "almost all" means "all but a negligible amount". More precisely, if X {\displaystyle X} X is a set, "almost all elements of X {\displaystyle X} X" means "all elements of X {\displaystyle X} X but those in a negligible subset of X {\displaystyle X} X". The meaning of "negligible" depends on the mathematical context; for instance, it can mean finite, countable, or null."

    It basically means all of a set or grouping, except for a negligible minority. It could also mean an overwhelming majority.



    What she meant was that all but a negligible minority of the population of this country back in our parents' day harbored some degree of racism, whether consciously or unconsciously.

    Deny it if you want. But it's quite true.


  13. by Ponderer on September 9, 2021 10:58 am

    You can debate about the size of the majority if you want to, but a huge majority it most certainly was.


  14. by HatetheSwamp on September 10, 2021 3:38 am

    Sheesh, po.

    Donna assused nearly every one of my 15 aunts and uncles of being racists. I get the quantification.

    What I still don't know is what Donna accused ALMOST ALL of the effin "Greatest Generation" of being.


  15. by HatetheSwamp on September 10, 2021 3:54 am

    What she meant was that all but a negligible minority of the population of this country back in our parents' day harbored some degree of racism, whether consciously or unconsciously.

    Defining a term by using the term.

    A racist is someone who "harbored some degree of racism, whether consciously or unconsciously."

    Ain't helping me.

    You progressives are so quick on the draw at accusing people who are different than you of one form of evil or another. That, and saying, "You're stupid," seems to be your entire bag of tricks.

    But, it seems, you don't even know what you mean when you hurl the insults.


  16. by Donna on September 10, 2021 9:36 am
    Unlike you, Hate, I don't consider the adults around me back in the day who had some racist attitudes as "evil", nor do I consider your dad "evil". That's what they were programmed to believe, and because they never heard any opposing viewpoints, those beliefs became sort of cemented into their psyches.


  17. by HatetheSwamp on September 10, 2021 10:58 am

    So, Donna, are you defining what you mean when you condemn them as racists?


  18. by Ponderer on September 10, 2021 11:01 am
    Hate, I would ask you why you feel it necessary to reflexively try to change the meaning of what people say, but the answer has been obvious for many years.


  19. by Donna on September 10, 2021 11:04 am
    I didn't condemn racists. You're the one who's calling racists "evil", an attack I defended them against. Btw, how are you defining "evil"?


  20. by HatetheSwamp on September 10, 2021 11:09 am

    They could seem nice but they're not. ALMOST ALL of them were racists.

    Sounds like condemnation to me. It sure ain't praise.


  21. by Ponderer on September 10, 2021 11:29 am
    Well feel free to read anything you want to into what people say, Hate. There's nothing anyone can do to correct you apparently. If you don't get it, you don't get it.

    But I think you do get it, and you're just being an asshole about it. I think you are intentionally being dense, because that's the only way you think you can dredge up any basis for an argument.


  22. by HatetheSwamp on September 10, 2021 11:35 am

    Donna countered "nice" with "racist." Seems a abundantly obvious to me.


  23. by Curt_Anderson on October 11, 2022 10:23 pm
    I am resurrecting an old thread here.

    The following are examples of anti-miscegenation laws that were on the books until relatively recently. Today we'd be outraged if any politician proposed such a law. In our parents' and grandparents' time, such laws were considered normal.

    When actor Dean Jagger tried to marry his second wife, Gloria Ling, in 1947, they were denied a marriage license in California due to a state law "forbidding unions between Caucasians and Mongolians [sic]"; Ling's father had been born in China. Within two days, the couple had flown to Albuquerque, New Mexico, and were married under "New Mexico's more liberal statute".

    While interracial marriage had been legal in California since 1948, in 1957 actor Sammy Davis Jr. faced a backlash for his relationship with a white woman, actress Kim Novak. In 1958, Davis briefly married a black woman, actress and dancer Loray White, to protect himself from mob violence.

    In 1958, officers in Virginia entered the home of Richard and Mildred Loving and dragged them out of bed for living together as an interracial couple, on the basis that "any white person intermarry with a colored person"— or vice versa—each party "shall be guilty of a felony" and face prison terms of five years. This eventually led to the Supreme Court ruling that anti-interracial marriage laws were unconstitutional in 1967.

    The ugly truth is that racism was widely considered normal for our grandparents' and parents' generations. Blacks on TV and in the movies were largely relegated to demeaning roles until the 1950's. There is nothing more pernicious than normalized hateful and discriminatory behavior.

    Btw, I am not saying that racism has disappeared. There is still plenty of room for improvement, but it's undeniable that we have progressed as a society. Subsequent generations will critique our prejudicial shortcomings that we are mostly oblivious to.
    en.wikipedia.org
    en.wikipedia.org


  24. by HatetheSwamp on October 12, 2022 4:29 am

    Presentism

    ...presentism is the anachronistic introduction of present-day ideas and perspectives into depictions or interpretations of the past...The practice of presentism is regarded by some as a common fallacy when [thinking] about the past.

    Presentism is also a factor in the problematic question of history and moral judgments...

    ...Reading modern notions of morality into the past is to commit the error of presentism.


    Presentism is ugly. And, it's rampant everywhere a modern day progressive lives and breathes.

    I was always disturbed by this discussion, not because I applaud the attitudes of the past, but because of what strikes me as the self-righteousness of the people of today presuming that they're, uh, enlightened and, therefore, capable of passing judgment on everyone else, past and present, who thinks and acts differently than they do...i.e., in this case, calling them names.

    Apart from posting here, nearly all of my life is engaged with people who are not, broadly speaking, progressive.

    Never do I notice nonprogressives passing judgment on others.

    Here?, Curt, isle, po, Donna?, to judge others is your default setting...

    ...as is obvious from this thread.

    Right.

    Attitudes towards race were different in the past. But, c'mon man! As soon as you call that racism, you're revealing your self-satisfaction, your smugness, your sanctimony.

    I often moan about how what it means to be progressive has changed since the days I came of age in the 60s and 70s. Nothing disturbs me more than this.


  25. by oldedude on October 12, 2022 10:55 am
    "Racism and bigotry of all sorts were common in America. After all, we started this country with slavery as a major part of our labor force. The good news is that we are not as bigoted or as racist as our parents, grandparents and ancestors. However, it's quite possible that our descendants will judge our behavior critically."

    I know I'm in this late. Curt, et.al. has articulated pretty clearly that the fathers will always be held accountable for sins they committed under new rules they had no idea would exist. This includes people who thought they were doing the right thing for the right reason. They did what they thought in their hearts were right. This also includes who is in power at the time. So we're no better than the Chinese that changed history at the change of each dynasty.

    The conservative point of view is quite different. We don't want our history "re-written" at all. There are things we can learn, and mistakes that were made that we can correct. I point that out when I can, where someone will use a piece that has "new" history in it to point towards the wrongs of certain groups or make the now favored group in a better light.

    Statues, according to the left are proof there was wrong done and to make sure we destroy them. Conservatives believe they are proof that wrong was done and it's a learning/ teaching tool for it not to happen again.


  26. by oldedude on October 12, 2022 10:59 am
    It wasn't that the fighters were racists, there was no sport in that. This was nothing more than a dog fight, or a cock fight. It's that the northern (Chicago, Boston, B'more, NYC) were droves of racists. It was the rich whitey MF's and crackers pouring money on the "white guy" to beat up the nigra. This would affirm white supremacy in the north.

    They were considered nothing but cattle in the north. That's where having an Irish Maid was all the rage. Unfortunately, the majority died from being smothered by their owners after getting repeatedly raped from their masters. And since they were white, they were considered "human" in this case, so they were smothered in their beds. (Kilmainham Gaol exhibit on the immigration of the Irish to the Americas)

    This is kind of interesting to me. A couple of times before, I have mentioned that both sides of my family were "property." My 5th removed Grandfather, George Dempsey (very common name in counties Wexford, Kildare, Laois, Offlay, and Antrim) was taken by an englishman and sold to a silversmith in the Americas (Louden County, VA). He was indentured, and crooked enough to take the shavings of silver and sold his own jewelry. Unlike 2/3 of the indentured servants, he was able to buy his way out. He had to move south to get out of the racism of the north.

    Life was so bad for them; they were recruited by the division on both sides of the War of Union aggression. At one-point, Cold Harbor, two Irish battalions met. Grant, in his drunken stupor, sent his Irish brigade through the middle. Literally, a 1 acre clearing. It's reported the confederate Irish had tears in their eyes as they gunned down their countrymen. At the end, 12,000 Union bodies on that one acre were six deep, the first elements wounded were smothered by the dead falling on them. 4,000 of Curt's "losers" died in the same skirmish.
    nps.gov


  27. by Donna on October 12, 2022 12:12 pm

    The examples Curt sighted are by definition examples of racism. Racism, by definition, was pretty much the norm in the US in my parents' and grandparents times. If I grew up during that time, I'd probably have been racist too.

    There was a time not that long ago when homosexuality was so shunned that most gay people were afraid to come out of the closet. Our society, though still not perfect on that issue as well as related issues like transgenderism, has come a long way since those days.

    I had a great uncle who I didn't meet until I was about 14. I found out years later that my brothers and I never got to know him because my grandmother, who was his brother's wife, wouldn't allow him at their house because he was gay.

    It was common back in those days for gay people to spend their entire lives in the closet. I personally know of one other example from that generation.

    Anyhow, it's okay to point out that people generally were more homophobic back in those days than they are now, because that's obviously true.



  28. by Curt_Anderson on October 12, 2022 12:50 pm
    Donna,
    Thanks. America's founders understood that we can become more enlightened. They were products of the Enlightenment. It's no coincidence that the preamble of the Constitution opens with the words "a more perfect Union".

    We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.


    I don't believe in holding people of past to current standards of morality and behavior. I believe we should honor historical figures for their good accomplishments, realizing they were mortals who had their faults. We can be grateful to Washington and Jefferson for their achievements despite their being slaveholders. I don't think we need to honor those whose claims to fame is nothing more than attempting to tear America apart in the furtherance of slavery.

    Even figures like Christopher Columbus and other explorers who apparently committed genocide can be honored for their drive and courage to embark on voyages of great risk that changed our knowledge of the world.
    en.wikipedia.org


  29. by HatetheSwamp on October 12, 2022 1:07 pm

    The examples Curt sighted are by definition examples of racism. Racism, by definition, was pretty much the norm in the US in my parents' and grandparents times. If I grew up during that time, I'd probably have been racist too.

    Bullfernerner! Your parents were not racists, based on how you've described them.

    But, you are a presentist...as are most Blue MAGAs whom I know.

    What arrogance. What self-satisfaction, self-righteousness. What narcissism. What sanctimony!

    Shame on you. All of you!


  30. by Donna on October 12, 2022 1:22 pm

    Hts: You quite famously here have a difficult time facing up to the truth. Whenever I've presented you with something that gives you cognitive dissonance, like asking you how you feel about the God of Abraham having ordered the Israelites to commit genocide, you attack personally, in that example going so far as to call me a Christophobe. You would keep a psychologist busy for decades.


  31. by HatetheSwamp on October 12, 2022 1:23 pm

    Thanks. America's founders understood that we can become more enlightened.

    That's you. ALL of you progressives.

    ENLIGHTENED!!!!!

    Bahahahahahahahahahaha!!!!!


  32. by HatetheSwamp on October 12, 2022 1:30 pm

    Donna,

    You are an arrogant presentist! Y

    And, you prove your sanctimony by suggesting that, because I disagree with you, my problem is that, every time you try to teach me, I'm to psychologically and morally flawed to understand.

    You, of course, are a perfect as the Passover lamb. Bahahahahahahahahahaha!

    NOT

    You have no capacity for mercy, nor nuance.

    But you certainly have mastered self-righteousness and judgmentalism!


  33. by Donna on October 12, 2022 1:33 pm

    Wow, you're still attacking me personally.

    Whatever, Hts. I don't think I'll ever understand you.


  34. by oldedude on October 12, 2022 6:13 pm
    "I don't believe in holding people of past to current standards of morality and behavior."
    But you said just the opposite in your post? Which is it? I'm confused when being called on your sht, you change your answer? That's pretty spineless.

    "I believe we should honor historical figures for their good accomplishments, realizing they were mortals who had their faults. We can be grateful to Washington and Jefferson for their achievements despite their being slaveholders."
    Jefferson was actually attempting to phase slavery out of the entire Americas. You really need to study what you say.

    "I don't think we need to honor those whose claims to fame is nothing more than attempting to tear America apart in the furtherance of slavery."
    Again, you need to study the UNWOKE history that actually happened. MOST of those fighting in the south didn't even realize slavery was an issue. They were fighting to have their home not burned and their wives and children not raped from the union forces (where 95% of the battles happened). Sherman was given orders from Lincoln to make a 300 mile swath of murder, rape, and desecration across the south. That was very fulfilled. His "army" did exactly what they were supposed to do. RAPE, MURDER, and DESECRATION.

    AND you support those unconstitutional azzwipes (including yourself) that believe in wiping your azz with the constitution because you don't know enough about it to make any logical decision about the country you live in.
    bing.com
    cip.hedbergandson.com
    heritage.org


  35. by Curt_Anderson on October 12, 2022 6:50 pm
    OD,
    Where do you believe that I said the opposite of "holding people of past to current standards of morality and behavior"? I have never believed otherwise. The comments are numbered so you should be able to find and cite my contradictory comment if it exists.

    Notice I said in the headline that "it was normal to be racist". There was nothing unusual about owning slaves in 1822. In 2022 if a person were caught owning slaves they'd be facing a long prison sentence. There was a banality in the acceptance of slaveholding.

    Jefferson and Washington could have tried a lot harder to end slavery, even on a personal level. Ulysses S. Grant had a slave (a wedding gift I believe). He worked along side his slave clearing some land and building his home. Within a year he set him free. Later as president, Grant was instrumental in the formation of the Department of Justice as a way to combat the KKK.


  36. by oldedude on October 12, 2022 7:06 pm
    Yes, it was normal then but is not now.
    Here's your sign. "However, it's quite possible that our descendants will judge our behavior critically."

    Sorry, you're laughable.

    Lee and Jefferson, especially taught their slaves to read and write. The north whities would never do such a thing they wanted their slaves to be illiterate. You expect so much in retrospect, for what YOU believe. Jefferson died penniless after he gave his massive collection of books to the Library of Congress. He fought the best he could against all odds to free as many as he could, knowing his slaves would be caught and sent to the lower states where they would die by the hand of a whip.

    Many of the northern generals owned "servants" or those in servitude that had to buy their way out. That's never mentioned in your "reconstructed" history.

    I think you unicorns and rainbows are getting the best of you.



  37. by Curt_Anderson on October 12, 2022 7:22 pm
    Here's your sign. "However, it's quite possible that our descendants will judge our behavior critically." ---OD quoting me

    How is that inconsistent? I said something similar in comment #23: "Subsequent generations will critique our prejudicial shortcomings that we are mostly oblivious to."

    I feel sorry for you if you don't believe your descendants will be better people than you are. It is the responsibility of every generation to move the ball forward.





  38. by oldedude on October 12, 2022 9:16 pm
    I do agree with that. I also think the Anti constitutionalists are willing to rip this country apart like they did in the summer of love.

    How's Portland BTW, I had a friend that was going there on business, and she declined the move up in her company because it was too dangerous. She's also one hell of an Intelligence analyst.

    I also think that people like indy and isle, even if they're not the same person, are willing to start a civil war. The rest of you will follow of course, since the rest of us are just insurrectionists. I think that might rise above the ashes may be better, but I'm doubtful.

    I guess it's because I'm not naive, I've seen what these do, and my world is not made of unicorns and rainbows. Welcome to living in Mogadishu.


  39. by Curt_Anderson on October 12, 2022 9:41 pm
    I live about 300 miles from Portland.

    Really, your friend is hell of an intelligence analyst?! Than why didn't she know that Portland ranks in the in middle in violent crimes and at the bottom in property crimes among the 100 largest US cities according to the FBI?

    If she thinks Portland is dangerous, tell her to steer clear of Hialeah and Tampa.
    en.wikipedia.org


  40. by HatetheSwamp on October 13, 2022 4:15 am

    Wow, you're still attacking me personally.

    For me, there are a lot of things going on here. For one, remember, my degree is in history. This issue is in pb's wheelhouse.

    But, more than that, I'm not attacking you...

    ...but I am pointing out when you choose to be a Presentist, you are choosing to make yourself the standard of all that is truly good.

    When you choose Presentism so you can judge others, you're revealing your own sanctimony and, probably, narcissism. That's ugly.

    I'm not attacking you per se. But, I am proving my point that Presentism is a dangerous and self-righteousness way of understanding the past...especially the way Curt and you do it.


  41. by oldedude on October 13, 2022 4:42 am
    According to the UCR, property crime is NOT a violent crime.

    Violent Crime Rates In Portland

    • (bullet)You have a 1 in 191.3 chance of being the victim of a violent crime in Portland each year.
    • (bullet)That compares to a 1 in 342.6 chance statewide.
    • (bullet)The violent crime rate in Portland is 522.7 per 100,000 people.
    T • (bullet)hat's 34.78% higher than the national rate of 387.8 per 100,000 people.
    • (bullet)79.07% higher than the Oregon violent crime rate of 291.9 per 100,000 people.

    I rest my case.
    homesnacks.com


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