Michael Hamar

Richmond Newspaper Regrets Role in Support of Segregation

Filed By Michael Hamar | July 21, 2009 9:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Fundie Watch, Marriage Equality, Politics, Politics

Virginia - which gave the early years of the nation many brilliant, enlightened and dynamic leaders - has for more than the last 125 years become a bastion of reactionary thought where discrimination against targeted groups of its citizens has been and continues to be embraced.

Once it was black Americans who could not marry whites until the U. S. Supreme Court struck down Virginia's ban on interracial marrage in Loving v. Virginia and who were the targets of "Massive Resistance" in the years following the Brown v. Board of Education ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Today it is LGBT citizens who are the principal targets of legalized discrimination - and Virginia is among the most anti-gay states in the nation.

Belatedly, the Richmond Times-Dispatch is expressing regret for its role in defending racial segregation in the years following the Brown v. Board of Education ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court.

During that era, many areas of Virginia engaged in "Massive Resistance" and closed their public schools rather than allow them to be integrated. The result was than many children - especial black children - were deprived of a decent education. Naturally, the segregationists cited the Bible as one of their justifications for segregation.

It has taken roughly 50 years for one of the most influential newspapers in the state, the Richmond Times-Dispatch, to express remorse for its support for segregation and Massive Resistance. I can only wonder how many more decades we will have to wait for apologies for the misdeeds done to LGBT Virginians by politicians endorsed by the Times Dispatch. Here are highlights from the Times Dispatch "apology" published last week:

Sometimes the era seems ancient; sometimes it resembles yesterday. Fifty years ago Virginia had a rendezvous with destiny and came up wanting. It scorned human rights and the promise of the Declaration of Independence and instead took a course known as Massive Resistance. Tomorrow at the Capitol, the University of Virginia's Center for Politics will convene a conference on the chapter and its legacy.

Throughout the episode, Richmond Newspapers played a central role -- but not a centering one. The hour was ignoble. Editorials in The News Leader relentlessly championed Massive Resistance and the dubious constitutional arguments justifying its unworthy cause. Although not so intimately engaged,

The Times-Dispatch was complicit. The record fills us with regret, which we have expressed before.

Massive Resistance inflicted pain then. Memories remain painful. Editorial enthusiasm for a dreadful doctrine still affects attitudes toward the newspaper. Many remember. We understand. Words have consequences.

The Richmond Times Dispatch has done nothing to condemn this same hubris and hate that is ever present in the likes of many Virginians and "family values" organizations. Pat Robertson, Victoria Cobb, Bob "Taliban Bob"McDonnell, Regent University, Liberty University, The Family Foundation, Ken Cuccinelli, break away Virginia Anglicans - and list goes on and on - are we are given a pass - without condemnation.

Again, from The Richmond Times-Dispatch:

Yesteryear's words cannot be revoked. They endure on newsprint yellow and brittle, on microfilm, and in the computer files into which they have been translated. They belong to history, and history lives. It is well and good that the words be remembered, as a warning perhaps best. We will not forget.

But, of course, Virginia has forgotten. It has passed anti-gay statutes, and even wrote anti-gay discrimination into its Constitution in 2006 via the "Marriage Amendment."

Some things in Virginia unfortunately do not change. Virginia has once again had a rendezvous with destiny - and it has came up wanting.

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