NEXT UP: HOW...

NEXT UP: HOW CUSTER WAS KILLED BY VIKINGS. I know he's a slow-moving target, but this from John Podhoretz last Thursday is proof enough that some people occasionally encounter history the way other people encounter a rake in the tall grass -- "Boink! Ouch!":

Gay-marriage advocates often liken their struggle to the civil-rights movement. Well, consider the following contrast. In 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court nobly ruled that �separate but equal� education was unconstitutional - a view that did the justices enormous credit. But what happened in its wake? Open revolt in the South. Black schoolchildren assaulted. The National Guard mobilized just to ensure kids could enter the school buildings of Little Rock. Riots in Alabama and Mississippi as their universities were forced to open their doors to all.

Now recall what happened in the wake of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the 1965 Voting Rights Act and the 1968 Fair Housing Act. All three were passed into law by both houses of Congress and signed by the president - duly elected representatives of the people. Almost instantly, the fight went out of the separatists - whose leader, Alabama Gov. George Wallace, had only a few years earlier stood in front of the doors of the state university shouting, 'Segregation now, segregation tomorrow and segregation forever!'

Right, big fella. There was no historical connection between the activism that produced the Brown decision and the legislative victories in 1964 and 1965; Martin Luther King and the rest of them plainly recognized that the triumph of Thurgood Marshall in the Supreme Court made their jobs harder. That's why they all threw rocks at him whenever they saw him. The bloodshed at the Edmund Pettus Bridge had nothing to do with the Voting Rights Act, even though Lyndon Johnson said that it did before Congress in the greatest speech given by a U.S. President in my lifetime. And the "fight" went so far out of George Wallace that he subsequently ran for President twice and scared the daylights out of both parties.

--Charles P. Pierce

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