The False Equality of Americans

The False Equality of Americans

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The False Equality of Americans

In economic, social and political terms, equality is more of an idea than a reality for many people in America; the majority of money and power has been in the control of White men since colonial times. Ideologies like racism and sexism perpetuate the status quo by isolating under- privileged groups. Problems arise from divisions that are created between two under- privileged groups. For example, the cry for equality loses much of its power when it is fractured into several segmented cries. The book Outside the Magic Circle, addresses this issue. Organizations which successfully fought for equality, like the NCAPT, were destroyed by forces (such as anti communism) which essentially divide the groups’ members and the groups, themselves. Thus, any given group becomes ineffective. This book demonstrates that unity is the best way to fight for equality.

The red scare was brought upon by men like Joseph McCarthy, who were eager to exploit people’s fear of Russia for personal benefit and power. Anyone who was associated with communism was highly scrutinized to be a Russian spy. Instead of fighting for the rights of the accused individuals, many social action groups ridded themselves of these very people. Durr realized that red baiting would destroy liberal groups which were fighting for justice. The NCAPT refused to dismiss people who were believed to be communist, but other groups were driven by fear and fired large numbers of people. “Everybody began to purge. The NAACP purged, the unions purged, everybody purged” (191). Instead of fighting stereotypes many groups fell prey to them, and in doing so lost their ability to challenge the status quo. Therefore “the whole liberal movement of the United States died...(because) it became exclusively anti communistic” (186).

Equally effective at seperating people as anti-communism was the upper class which manipulated and abused the lower class for profit. “Every Southern state, every chamber of commerce, and every corporation thought the way to make the South prosperous was cheap labor” (179). Thus, members of the Southern upper class employed methods to keep people in lower classes. “The Southern oligarchy was ruining all the unions by keeping them from organizing” (156). At a time when labor unions were beginning to cross racial lines, the manner in which their empowering rise was quelled made alleviated race relations impossible.

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As a result poor Whites remained just as hateful of Blacks as before, even though they shared many of the same interests. Thus, poor Whites “voted for voting restrictions because they thought (they) would keep the Blacks from voting, but it kept them from voting, too (131). What the under class failed to realize, was that their seperation from similarly disenfranchised groups maintained the inequalities to which the were subjected, because of direct action taken by the upper- class.

For much of the time Durr worked to eliminate the poll tax, many groups refused to help even thought they shared common interests. Although both the AFL and the CIO wanted to abolish the poll tax to enable more lower class people to vote for their causes, they were unable to support the NCAPT because of a disagreement they had with each other. “This is the way the groups just doomed the causes they really believed in, (because of) a power fight” (189). Another group, the Women’s Party did not support the anti poll tax bill because it’s goal was to far from their immediate goal. Durr “kept telling the women, if you’re going to just work for women’s rights, you’re not going to get anywhere. You have to work for the rights of other people too. And the same is true for civil rights too” (131).

“The legal and constitutional safeguards (in America) are not selective. They’ve got to protect everybody or in time they won’t protect any of us” (306). Injustice is a plague in America, but many citizens fail to realize there are others in a very similar situation. Unity among the oppressed, and those who understand the problem, is the only way liberating forces will have enough strength to fight the system. If Durr’s organization, the NCAPT, had the continued support of Communists, poor Whites, Blacks, women, the AFL and the CIO, the Women’s Party, and the NAACP, would they have fallen prey to red baiting they way every other liberal group during this time did?
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