Polemics & Exchanges

Was Civil Rights Right?

I read the editorial “What’s Paleo, and What’s Not by Paul Gottfried (December 2019) with appreciation. It did raise some questions for me. He mentioned the controversial view of seeing continuity between the civil rights legislation of the 1960s and the current situation we are in. Given the obvious injustice that existed in both the North and South, was there a better plan than the legislation passed? Can conservatives allow change in areas that obviously need it? Does conservatism mean ossification or [being] hermetically sealed, so no change is possible? The particular application of Jim Crow in the South was an Achilles’ heel. It was not defensible, but change can go beyond correction and create new problems. Does he think it best to have left things as they were?

Edward Whealton
Norfolk, Va.

Prof. Gottfried replies:

Mr. Whealton raises a question that I have thought about for many years: Is it possible for our government to seek to right “historical wrongs,” without producing even further injustice or weakening republican constitutional government? My answer, for better or worse, is “No.” Every attempt the government has undertaken since the 1960s to empower a previously...

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