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Whites Always Oppose Protest Movements, No Matter the Tactics

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I like to ask people this question–around 75% of whites in 1968 disapproved of Martin Luther King. So if you are white, I want you to look around at your 3 closest white people and ask which of the four of you would have supported King and the civil rights movement? And why do you think it would have been you? Because you probably would have hated him or at least thought he had gone way too radical and that very much includes liberals. I mean, he opposed the Vietnam War! He talked about socialism! He was supporting labor unions!!!!

The comments around the protests on campuses remind me of this because the arguments against them are incredibly facile. Regardless of the quality of the strategy or whether this is actually going to work or whatever, none of that matters much to the key point, which is that people oppose ALL forms of protest, no matter how peaceful or how not peaceful. For example, see this Gallup poll from 1961:

I don’t know the racial crosstabs on this poll, but presumably they talked to at least some non-whites and presumably those numbers would have been more favorable (though certainly not universally so). The point is, we venerate John Lewis and SNCC and the sit-in and Freedom Rider heroes today. In 1961, most of us would have hated them and thought their crazy radicalism was hurting Black people. Why they might even get Barry Goldwater elected in 1964!

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