During the civil rights days I hung around its periphery during undergraduate and law school, while a couple of my high school classmates (the year our school desegregated, 1963) actual worked for Dr King as summer hires. They made civil rights real to me. But the movement’s history itself, except for Dr King, I can recall little, as I had no TV and read few papers. The deaths of the two college students and a black kid in Mississippi in 1964 I recall, and the 1965 murder of Viola Liuzzo, a Michigan activist, in Alabama, who I can recall simply because it was a strange-sounding name. But the marches themselves, Selma, Birmingham, not so much.
I was down for the struggle because of those friends from high school and paid more attention because of them. And as 1964 stretched into 1968, with a lot of blacks coming to college on their GI Bill, I picked up different talk about how southern blacks looked upon white liberals who had come to rescue them that was at variance from the standard fare of heroes and heroines suffering for a great cause. Then later, 1972-75, I worked closely with black soldiers, who echoed that “other” view of the liberalism that had come to save them. They referred to many as “white gods and goddesses”, sort of like movie stars working a soup kitchen, people who could volunteer to be poor for a a few days, but could walk away from it anytime they wanted. Day-trippers. They implied, much as Dick Gregory once said about general northern white attitudes about blacks, that they “didn’t care how big blacks get just so long as they didn’t get too close.” They weren’t easy to slap knees with.
But liberal whites had their own myths just as blacks did. Bob Beckel spoke of those days as if he’d lived them when it was actually his dad who walked the walk, Bob just trying to grab onto reflected glory. And a lot of churches in Mississippi were apparently stolen in the dead of night and transported to Arkansas, where they were promptly burned, according to one William Jefferson Cliinton, who vividly recalled those church fires at a later play date.
True White Gods and Goddesses.
Being from Appalachia I had the good fortune to be able to witness and even live among the first wave of white gods and goddesses to come south, only not to save blacks, mind you, but poor, backward white Appalachians. And Eleanor Roosevelt inspired them, not Dr Martin Luther King, Jr.
My town had exactly two, although half the school teachers hired there after the war looked upon Mrs Roosevelt as a kind of goddess themselves. They bandied about the term “progressive” around in a way having nothing to do with the way we hear it used today. Later, as an adult, I learned it meant that the education system they were practicing was John Dewey’s vision of education (whoever the hell he was), but with the exception of the way I was taught American history my senior year (1963) on reflection I can find nothing in what I was taught (1951-63) that would curve my spine or cause us to lose the coming war in Vietnam. And from First Grade through Tenth not a single one of those “progressive” teachers ever gave a second thought to pulling out a ruler, a switch, or a wooden paddle, and thrash the hide out of my backside or the back of my hand if I so much as passed a note, contradicted teacher, or whispered to the kid in front of me.
The white gods in my town were both doctors, one from Harvard, yes that Harvard, the other from the University of Illinois. They both had company housing close to the hospital which was at the center of town and they walked to work every day. I think there were 20-25 beds, and a walk-in office practice. Then in the evenings, they did house calls. For at least 20 years there was not a bare backside in that town they had not delivered and stuck a needle in more than once. They operated on me twice, and once rushed me across the mountains into Virginia to a regional miner’s hospital, to remove a foreign object in my nasal passage, a rubber eraser I had stuck so far up my nose that it couldn’t be removed without surgery. It was then that I learned the nightmarish odor of ether.
The older doctor, from Harvard, had two daughters, who he sent off to some eastern private college. I think I saw them two-three times in my life. So they had means well beyond what the company paid them, the perfect type of “progressive” Roosevelt recruit. I cut the old one’s grass in my high school days, but hated when he made a house-call. After examining me I’d hang in a corner while he talked to my mother, and then would go fumbling in his leather case. I always hoped he’d pull out a prescription pad, but he was always too quick for my tastes to pull out a needle and syringe instead. Penicillin usually.
He also delivered my brother at home, with the help of a midwife, the same “Miss” Motley mentioned in the Bob Beckel piece, above, who always brought her child, Lester, to sleep over with me when she came to stay a couple of days.
Both those doctors volunteered out of sense of noblesse oblige, a duty of the civilized to go forth and civilize. It was a common enthusiasm of the well-heeled progressives of the day, and one I have never found bad, class-based as it was. They came to Appalachia like some members of English gentry might move to Malta or Corfu, always carrying England with them, with the sole purpose to do good, and rub off a little civilization. Some did very well in that mission, others not so well.
In all the years (18) I knew those two medical families, I never knew them to attend any town function. They were never in church, and didn’t play golf, attended no civic function, not even the Ladies Flower League. One doctor had a family of four, kids near my age, and a black maid, who I knew well enough, but the older Harvard man, I have no idea what he and his wife did for entertainment, but they did have a giant Packard.
But they were never afraid to get too close.
So to everyone in that town they were both gods. They were above us, distant in every way, yet knew us all by our first names, not to mention our parents’, and in that world it was perfectly natural that they would be gods. Every small town should have one, and if you will search the annals of small towns around America, you will find many did through the generations.
You may be interested in knowing why I bring this subject up.
Well, to be honest, Megyn Kelly.
Modern white gods and goddesses are not cut from the same cloth as those old Roosevelt gods, but there does seem to be a genealogy between the white gods and goddesses of the civil rights days, and those we find today, not only in politics, but in media, even the fashionable conservative right.
Hillary transcends both generations since, as I suspect she was a down-the-nose Lady Disdain even when she was in college, unwilling to get too close to anyone who appeared to be beneath her. She wore her contempt for lessers on her face, and now it has frozen into that perpetual “who farted” countenance, a look of smug knowing disguising a vast emptiness of real knowledge…a sense of entitlement, and privilege as a birthright, much like, as I have described elsewhere, of the desert Bedouin Arab princess…before they discovered oil.
It’s well documented how Hillary has treated her aides, chastising them if they even looked her in the eyes. (From 1992 thru 2016 and three jobs in government; BOTUS, senator and Secretary of State, so this is not new.) The White House kitchen help and maids fared no better. Agatha Christie could have put a remarkable twist from one of her crime thrillers by dramatizing all the people who would have gladly lined up to lay a rolled up newspaper across Hillary’s snout on the Orient Express.
Her disdain for minions and commoners knows no bounds.
So why does Megyn Kelly choose Hillary?
Short answer, the Sisterhood. And Megyn has given that secret handshake away with her recent exchange with Newt Gingrich. She has betrayed journalism, (who hasn’t? you may ask), by allowing Newt to lead her by the bridle down a path to a watering hole the Sisterhood had tried to conceal from detection for many years….where their pecking order is kept. And love of country, or all the people contained therein, aren’t even in the top ten.
I’m guessing Megyn is possessed by the same white goddess syndrome a generation removed. Like Hillary, Megyn too looks like “she wouldn’t hug a baby” (an old characterization about someone who doesn’t want to muss up her clothes, or worse, smell something foreign. Sorry, this is the first thought I had about Megyn even before she redid her hair, the same never-get-too-close-to-anything-that-may-smell-of-Johnson’s-baby powder-or-baby-poop look that has depicted that type for 50 years.
Gods and goddesses may all share policy beliefs with other more grounded liberals, or even conservatives these days, but when they give away that that is how they self-identify, as a goddess, as Megyn Kelly has just done, they then reveal how secondarily those policy beliefs really are.
When Hillary’s father died in 1993, she made a strange comment, that his passing made her understand there were things larger than herself, a thing most children learned by the age of 10..