My friend E pointed me towards a photograph that has been widely shared on the Web — a black and white photograph dating from 1959, showing a group of people outside the state capitol in Little Rock, Arkansas, protesting integration of the public schools. The protesters are holding signs that read “Race Mixing is Communism,” and “Stop the Race Mixing / March of the Anti-Christ.” Coincidentally, I’ve recently been looking through the Atlas of 20th Century History by Richard Overy (New York: Harper Collins, 2006), in which I happened to read the following sentence: “Many of those who hated communists hated Blacks as well” (p. 108). This reminded me that Ronald Reagan’s first campaign for presidency emphasized not only the fight against communism (the “Evil Empire” as his campaign called it), but also “state’s rights,” which in those days was a kind of political code word for opposing federal desegregation efforts.
While accepting the historical reality that anti-communism and segregationism were linked in the minds of at least some Americans, I remain unable to explain how the two are linked. Of course, liberal Web pundits offer plenty of explanation of how anti-communism and segregationism are linked, but such explanations are merely ad hominem attacks larded with such terms as “Retardlicans.” Notwithstanding such idiocy, somewhere there must be a considered and serious historical explanation of this link.