Of Overgrown Negroes and Gay Weddings

“These [Southern whites] are not bad people. All they are concerned about is to see that their sweet little girls are not required to sit in school alongside some big overgrown Negroes.”

The above quote is what President Eisenhower said to Chief Justice Earl Warren at a White House dinner in 1954 (copied here from Digital History).

In theory, Eisenhower wasn’t against equal rights. He just empathized with Whites who didn’t want to get too close to Blacks because they felt that Black people where inherently dirty.

Those who support a business owner’s rights to selectively refuse certain services to gay people while agreeing with his or her obligation to serve gays as long as they don’t have to get up close and personal are reflecting Eisenhower’s bigotry.

It’s not about religion. There is no biblical distinction between serving pizza to gay people and catering their wedding. If your not killing them, you’re not following Leviticus. That’s a good thing, by the way.

It’s about cooties. There are thousands of ways to disobey God’s law (here’s 10) and many of us do so on a regular basis without being discriminated against by local merchants. But like the good ole Southerners concerned about their daughters sitting next to Black people, some people find the idea of being too close to gayness revolting. That’s not faith. That’s bigotry.

Update 2015/04/07. I also posted this on DailyKos, and commenter Goosrock wrote

Eisenhower Federalized the National Guard to force public school integration in Arkansas.

Part of the theory of democracy is that we don’t need all of our leaders to be messiahs, we can accept flawed ones who think all kinds of great people are icky so long as they govern justly.

States are nullifying federal law in a number of types around the country and will be doing more of it this year and next, but there is very little chance that President Obama will take as bold a step for the peoples’ rights as the bigot Mr. Eisenhower did.

While I don’t share Gooserock’s view about Obama, by mentioning Eisenhower only in the negative, I gave the impression that I don’t respect who he was. But he was a bold leader who held the nation together during difficult times, and there is much to admire him for.

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