The Cold War and the Civil Rights Movement

In the past fifty years, the Civil Rights movement has changed America more than any other social movement. The efforts of Dr. Martin Luther King and others profoundly altered America’s treatment of its minorities, in a way which represents one of its most powerful domestic accomplishments over the past century.

Yet one aspect of the Civil Rights movement has always been neglected in the conventional history of the movement. This was its connection to the Cold War. For America to win the Cold War, Civil Rights was a necessity. Continuing domestic discrimination against non-white minorities would make it impossible to win over the newly-free Third World.

Politicians at the time understood this very well, and it wasn’t as if they kept this fact secret. Presidents, such as Harry Truman, explicitly linked the Cold War to America’s race relationships. They put it in their speeches. They put it in their political advertisements.

Take this rather amazing ad by Republican candidate Richard Nixon:

This is Richard Nixon, of all people, endorsing Civil Rights in 1960.

What is more, Mr. Nixon spends more than half the ad explicitly telling the American people how Civil Rights is necessary for the fight against communism:

Why must we vigorously defend them [Civil Rights]? First, because it is right and just.

And second, because we cannot compete successfully against communism if we fail to utilize completely the minds and energy of all our citizens.

And third, the whole world is watching us. When we fail to grant equality to all, that makes news – bad news – for America all over the world.

This is not the type of rhetoric the history books talk about when discussing the Civil Rights – and yet here it is, in front of our faces.

There is also the phrase “The whole world is watching us.” This was an iconic Civil Rights phrase, and its true meaning has somewhat been diluted in the history books.

Civil Rights activists knew as well as everybody else that Civil Rights was tightly linked to the Cold War. They used this fact as a vital leverage to achieve their goals; it is no coincidence that the Freedom Rides started just a month before President Kennedy met Premier Nikita Khrushchev at the Vienna summit. This is also why Dr. Martin Luther King kept his opposition to the Vietnam War silent for so long.

So when Civil Rights activists said, “The whole world is watching us,” they literally meant that the newly decolonized nations of the Third World were watching America’s treatments of its minorities. Newly free black, brown, and yellow nations could not support a country that continued treating non-whites like second-class citizens at home.

And even conservatives like Richard Nixon himself used the phrase!

All in all, this aspect of Civil Rights traditionally isn’t discussed much. To say that Civil Rights came about not just through sheer altruism, but also because of self-interest, diminishes the mythology that has built up around the movement.

But it makes more sense. America did not just randomly decide to be nicer to black people in the 1960s, instead of the 1920s or the 1890s. Instead, it ended segregation because not doing so would greatly damage the fight against communism. Civil Rights was therefore not just the right thing to do, but also vitally important to the national interest.

All this is not to diminish the accomplishments of the Civil Rights movement, nor to ignore the heroism of its leaders. Civil Rights was probably the best thing that happened to the United States in the past fifty years. It fundamentally changed the country from a system based upon coercion to what it is today.

But saying that Civil Rights happened because of pure altruism vastly oversimplifies the reality. The Civil Rights movement did happen, in the words of Mr. Nixon, “because it is right and just.” But it also happened so America could “compete successfully against communism.”

--Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

 

The Cold War and the Civil Rights Movement

In the past fifty years, the Civil Rights movement has changed America more than any other social movement. The efforts of Dr. Martin Luther King and others profoundly altered America’s treatment of its minorities, in a way which represents one of its most powerful domestic accomplishments over the past century.

Yet one aspect of the Civil Rights movement has always been neglected in the conventional history of the movement. This was its connection to the Cold War. For America to win the Cold War, Civil Rights was a necessity. Continuing domestic discrimination against non-white minorities would make it impossible to win over the newly-free Third World.

Politicians at the time understood this very well, and it wasn’t as if they kept this fact secret. Presidents, such as Harry Truman, explicitly linked the Cold War to America’s race relationships. They put it in their speeches. They put it in their political advertisements.

Take this rather amazing ad by Republican candidate Richard Nixon:

This is Richard Nixon, of all people, endorsing Civil Rights in 1960.

What is more, Mr. Nixon spends more than half the ad explicitly telling the American people how Civil Rights is necessary for the fight against communism:

Why must we vigorously defend them [Civil Rights]? First, because it is right and just.

And second, because we cannot compete successfully against communism if we fail to utilize completely the minds and energy of all our citizens.

And third, the whole world is watching us. When we fail to grant equality to all, that makes news – bad news – for America all over the world.

This is not the type of rhetoric the history books talk about when discussing the Civil Rights – and yet here it is, in front of our faces.

There is also the phrase “The whole world is watching us.” This was an iconic Civil Rights phrase, and its true meaning has somewhat been diluted in the history books.

Civil Rights activists knew as well as everybody else that Civil Rights was tightly linked to the Cold War. They used this fact as a vital leverage to achieve their goals; it is no coincidence that the Freedom Rides started just a month before President Kennedy met Premier Nikita Khrushchev at the Vienna summit. This is also why Dr. Martin Luther King kept his opposition to the Vietnam War silent for so long.

So when Civil Rights activists said, “The whole world is watching us,” they literally meant that the newly decolonized nations of the Third World were watching America’s treatments of its minorities. Newly free black, brown, and yellow nations could not support a country that continued treating non-whites like second-class citizens at home.

And even conservatives like Richard Nixon himself used the phrase!

All in all, this aspect of Civil Rights traditionally isn’t discussed much. To say that Civil Rights came about not just through sheer altruism, but also because of self-interest, diminishes the mythology that has built up around the movement.

But it makes more sense. America did not just randomly decide to be nicer to black people in the 1960s, instead of the 1920s or the 1890s. Instead, it ended segregation because not doing so would greatly damage the fight against communism. Civil Rights was therefore not just the right thing to do, but also vitally important to the national interest.

All this is not to diminish the accomplishments of the Civil Rights movement, nor to ignore the heroism of its leaders. Civil Rights was probably the best thing that happened to the United States in the past fifty years. It fundamentally changed the country from a system based upon coercion to what it is today.

But saying that Civil Rights happened because of pure altruism vastly oversimplifies the reality. The Civil Rights movement did happen, in the words of Mr. Nixon, “because it is right and just.” But it also happened so America could “compete successfully against communism.”

--Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

 

The Cold War and the Civil Rights Movement

In the past fifty years, the Civil Rights movement has changed America more than any other social movement. The efforts of Dr. Martin Luther King and others profoundly altered America’s treatment of its minorities, in a way which represents one of its most powerful domestic accomplishments over the past century.

Yet one aspect of the Civil Rights movement has always been neglected in the conventional history of the movement. This was its connection to the Cold War. For America to win the Cold War, Civil Rights was a necessity. Continuing domestic discrimination against non-white minorities would make it impossible to win over the newly-free Third World.

Politicians at the time understood this very well, and it wasn’t as if they kept this fact secret. Presidents, such as Harry Truman, explicitly linked the Cold War to America’s race relationships. They put it in their speeches. They put it in their political advertisements.

Take this rather amazing ad by Republican candidate Richard Nixon:

This is Richard Nixon, of all people, endorsing Civil Rights in 1960.

What is more, Mr. Nixon spends more than half the ad explicitly telling the American people how Civil Rights is necessary for the fight against communism:

Why must we vigorously defend them [Civil Rights]? First, because it is right and just.

And second, because we cannot compete successfully against communism if we fail to utilize completely the minds and energy of all our citizens.

And third, the whole world is watching us. When we fail to grant equality to all, that makes news – bad news – for America all over the world.

This is not the type of rhetoric the history books talk about when discussing the Civil Rights – and yet here it is, in front of our faces.

There is also the phrase “The whole world is watching us.” This was an iconic Civil Rights phrase, and its true meaning has somewhat been diluted in the history books.

Civil Rights activists knew as well as everybody else that Civil Rights was tightly linked to the Cold War. They used this fact as a vital leverage to achieve their goals; it is no coincidence that the Freedom Rides started just a month before President Kennedy met Premier Nikita Khrushchev at the Vienna summit. This is also why Dr. Martin Luther King kept his opposition to the Vietnam War silent for so long.

So when Civil Rights activists said, “The whole world is watching us,” they literally meant that the newly decolonized nations of the Third World were watching America’s treatments of its minorities. Newly free black, brown, and yellow nations could not support a country that continued treating non-whites like second-class citizens at home.

And even conservatives like Richard Nixon himself used the phrase!

All in all, this aspect of Civil Rights traditionally isn’t discussed much. To say that Civil Rights came about not just through sheer altruism, but also because of self-interest, diminishes the mythology that has built up around the movement.

But it makes more sense. America did not just randomly decide to be nicer to black people in the 1960s, instead of the 1920s or the 1890s. Instead, it ended segregation because not doing so would greatly damage the fight against communism. Civil Rights was therefore not just the right thing to do, but also vitally important to the national interest.

All this is not to diminish the accomplishments of the Civil Rights movement, nor to ignore the heroism of its leaders. Civil Rights was probably the best thing that happened to the United States in the past fifty years. It fundamentally changed the country from a system based upon coercion to what it is today.

But saying that Civil Rights happened because of pure altruism vastly oversimplifies the reality. The Civil Rights movement did happen, in the words of Mr. Nixon, “because it is right and just.” But it also happened so America could “compete successfully against communism.”

--Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

 

The Cold War and the Civil Rights Movement

In the past fifty years, the Civil Rights movement has changed America more than any other social movement. The efforts of Dr. Martin Luther King and others profoundly altered America’s treatment of its minorities, in a way which represents one of its most powerful domestic accomplishments over the past century.

Yet one aspect of the Civil Rights movement has always been neglected in the conventional history of the movement. This was its connection to the Cold War. For America to win the Cold War, Civil Rights was a necessity. Continuing domestic discrimination against non-white minorities would make it impossible to win over the newly-free Third World.

Politicians at the time understood this very well, and it wasn’t as if they kept this fact secret. Presidents, such as Harry Truman, explicitly linked the Cold War to America’s race relationships. They put it in their speeches. They put it in their political advertisements.

Take this rather amazing ad by Republican candidate Richard Nixon:

This is Richard Nixon, of all people, endorsing Civil Rights in 1960.

What is more, Mr. Nixon spends more than half the ad explicitly telling the American people how Civil Rights is necessary for the fight against communism:

Why must we vigorously defend them [Civil Rights]? First, because it is right and just.

And second, because we cannot compete successfully against communism if we fail to utilize completely the minds and energy of all our citizens.

And third, the whole world is watching us. When we fail to grant equality to all, that makes news – bad news – for America all over the world.

This is not the type of rhetoric the history books talk about when discussing the Civil Rights – and yet here it is, in front of our faces.

There is also the phrase “The whole world is watching us.” This was an iconic Civil Rights phrase, and its true meaning has somewhat been diluted in the history books.

Civil Rights activists knew as well as everybody else that Civil Rights was tightly linked to the Cold War. They used this fact as a vital leverage to achieve their goals; it is no coincidence that the Freedom Rides started just a month before President Kennedy met Premier Nikita Khrushchev at the Vienna summit. This is also why Dr. Martin Luther King kept his opposition to the Vietnam War silent for so long.

So when Civil Rights activists said, “The whole world is watching us,” they literally meant that the newly decolonized nations of the Third World were watching America’s treatments of its minorities. Newly free black, brown, and yellow nations could not support a country that continued treating non-whites like second-class citizens at home.

And even conservatives like Richard Nixon himself used the phrase!

All in all, this aspect of Civil Rights traditionally isn’t discussed much. To say that Civil Rights came about not just through sheer altruism, but also because of self-interest, diminishes the mythology that has built up around the movement.

But it makes more sense. America did not just randomly decide to be nicer to black people in the 1960s, instead of the 1920s or the 1890s. Instead, it ended segregation because not doing so would greatly damage the fight against communism. Civil Rights was therefore not just the right thing to do, but also vitally important to the national interest.

All this is not to diminish the accomplishments of the Civil Rights movement, nor to ignore the heroism of its leaders. Civil Rights was probably the best thing that happened to the United States in the past fifty years. It fundamentally changed the country from a system based upon coercion to what it is today.

But saying that Civil Rights happened because of pure altruism vastly oversimplifies the reality. The Civil Rights movement did happen, in the words of Mr. Nixon, “because it is right and just.” But it also happened so America could “compete successfully against communism.”

--Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

 

Analyzing Ukrainian Elections, Part 2

 This is the second part of two posts analyzing Ukrainian elections. This second part will focus upon many factors that lead to Ukraine’s exceptional regional polarization. The first part can be found here.

(Note: I strongly encourage you to click the image links on this post when reading; they're essential to understanding what I'm saying.)

Two Ukraines

Modern Ukraine is a strange hybrid of two quite different regions. One part, composed of western and central Ukraine, is politically more aligned with the West; it favors, for instance, joining the European Union. This part includes the capital Kiev. The other part of Ukraine, consisting of the Black Sea coast and eastern Ukraine, remains more loyal to Russia and the memory of the Soviet Union. It includes Donetsk Oblast (formerly named Stalino Oblast), the most populous province in the country.

This division is reflected in Ukrainian politics. Take the 2004 presidential election, in which pro-Western candidate Viktor Yushchenko faced off against pro-Russian candidate Viktor Yanukovych:

Link to Map of 2004 Ukrainian Presidential Election, Round 3; Image Courtesy of ElectoralGeography

Few things better illustrate the boundary between east and west Ukraine than this election, which Mr. Yushchenko ended up winning by a seven-point margin.

These divisions have long-standing roots. During the 16th and 17th centuries, for instance, much of Ukraine was under the control of the Poland-Lithuania. This country, which at one point constituted the largest nation in Europe, declined in the 18th century and was eventually partitioned by its stronger neighbors Prussia, Russia, and Austria.

Here is a map of Poland-Lithuania at its peak:

Link to Map of Poland-Lithuania

As the map makes clear, there is a strong correlation between the parts of Ukraine once controlled by Poland-Lithuania and the parts of Ukraine that today vote for pro-Westerners such as Mr. Yushchenko. Although Poland-Lithuania is long gone, the vestiges of Polish influence still exist in these places, drawing western and central Ukraine closer to the West than eastern Ukraine and the Black Sea region.

These two parts of Ukraine differ in another, even more important aspect: language. Take a look at the most Russian-speaking regions of Ukraine:

Link to Map of Linguistic Division in Ukraine

The correlation between the percentage of Russian speakers and the vote for pro-Russian candidate Viktor Yanukovych is even stronger here. The three provinces with more than 60% of Russian-speakers gave Mr. Yanukovych’s his strongest support; Mr. Yanukovych managed to gain greater than 80% of the vote in each of them, despite losing the overall vote by 7%.

Language was a matter directly related to the Soviet Union. While on paper all languages were equal in the Soviet Union, in reality there was little question that speaking Russian was necessary to succeed. Today the situation is the opposite; the government encourages individuals to speak Ukrainian, although many in the country use Russian.

Ironically, Mr. Yanukovych himself is a native-born Russian-speaker. According to the Kiev Post, his Ukrainian remains imperfect to this day. The current president is reported to desire adding Russian to Ukraine’s list of official languages (which at the moment includes solely Ukrainian). This would be quite controversial if actually done.

Ukraine’s Future

Polarization is a disturbing phenomenon for any country. In Ukraine’s 2004 presidential election, all but one province gave more than 60% of the vote to a single candidate. This is the type of political division that sometimes leads to civil war, such as which occurred in Yugoslavia. That is one possible path for Ukraine to follow, unlikely as it may seem at the moment.

Yet polarization of this sort does not necessarily lead to separation. In the 2010 presidential election, polarization declined slightly; as memories fade, this trend may continue. And fortunately for Ukraine, the East-West division does not extend to ethnicity; Russian-speakers and Ukrainian-speakers may have a different language, but they look the same. It is a sad comment on the human condition that this makes a break-up of Ukraine less likely.

Moreover, a number of other countries contain similar electoral divisions without splitting up. Former East Germany votes quite differently from former West Germany (especially with regards to the Left Party, the ex-communist party), but Germany certainly will not break-up into pieces anytime soon. After the Civil War, the South unanimously supported one party for decades – parts of it still do, if one excludes blacks – but the idea of another national schism is unthinkable today. If things go well for Ukraine, the electoral divide in its voting patterns may remain nothing more than that.

--Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

 

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