Thursday, September 22, 2022

Roosevelt, Painter, Snyder

Three excerpts from “The Homeless, Tempest-Tossed,” the final episode of The U.S. and the Holocaust. From a 1946 speech by Eleanor Roosevelt:

I have the feeling that we let our consciences realize too late the need of standing up against something that we knew was wrong. We have therefore had to avenge it — but we did nothing to prevent it. I hope that in the future, we are going to remember that there can be no compromise at any point with the things that we know are wrong.
From the historian Nell Irvin Painter:
Americans are now coming to terms with our past. What we have over and over and over again in American history is, on the one hand, this stream of white supremacy and anti-Semitism. It’s a big stream, and it’s always there. And sometimes it bubbles up, and it shocks us, and it gets slapped down. But the stream is always there, and we should not be shocked. We should not think, “This is not America.” It is.
From the historian Timothy Snyder:
This thing that people call white supremacy, that's not some marginal thing. You have to look back and say “How can we change, so that we really can be a republic, or really can be a democracy?” If we're going to be a country in the future, then we have to have a view of our own history which allows us to see what we were. Then we can become something different. And then we have to become something different, if we’re going to make it.

comments: 2

Sean Crawford said...

When I was a boy we said prejudiced. Even after the Archie Bunker show we said prejudiced, not bigoted. We would also say that maybe we would be prejudiced too if there were any blacks or jews around where we grew up.

Only in the last few years have I heard supremacy. I think that new term is progress because it is closer to reality.

Michael Leddy said...

“Prejudiced” was the operative word when I was a kid too. It now seems to suggest merely “not liking.” It doesn’t account for the privilege or lack of privilege that a racist culture confers. “White supremacy” is the real story.