The Weird Cycle of History

nixon.jpg

The U.S. presidential election of 1876 was possibly one of the most contentious elections in our nations history. Widespread cases of fraud in several states led to both parties declaring victory, sparking a constitutional crisis. Eventually, a compromise was hammered out wherein Rutherford B. Hayes, the Republican candidate, was declared the winner. Unfortunately, to get this end, the Republicans had to agree to end the occupation of the former Confederacy, giving them back the full right to govern themselves without the federal government looking over their shoulders. Luckily, the Democrats who controlled these states of course continued the Reconstruction policies that ensured equal rights for all regardless of race. Wait, that’s not right. They actually wrote countless laws forcing racial segregation and guaranteeing anyone not white would never get their fair share of the pie.

Now it’s probably worth mentioning here that racial segregation was a thing across the United States throughout the era of the 1870’s to 1960’s. However, for most of the country it was more of an informal system of personal biases and bureaucratic fenangling. The South was more blatant about the whole thing. The moment they were able, Democratic led state legislatures passed a series of bills that became known as the Jim Crow laws. These laws mandated racial segregation at public schools, public places, public transportation, restrooms, restaurants, drinking fountains, and pretty much everything else you can think of. They also made interracial marriage illegal, made it as difficult as possible for non-whites to vote, and gave individual racists all sorts of opportunities to be just as racist as they could possibly be. It was pretty much a terrible cluster fuck of ways to keep people separate and deny them opportunities, thus making it easier to treat them like shit. So yeah, you know, not exactly the best time in American history.

Anyways, in 1932, far across the Atlantic, a somehow less controversial election led to the nation of Germany getting a new Chancellor. You’ve probably heard of him. When Adolf Hitler came to power, he set out to fulfill his campaign promises, which unfortunately mostly revolved around turning the country into a dictatorship and doing everything in his power to segregate and destroy Germany’s Jewish population. Now at the time, Jewish people were not only pretty well integrated into German society, they were also doing pretty well for themselves, two things that just set Hitler’s anti-Semitic blood to boiling. Not really knowing the best way to go about undoing these things, he and his fellow piece of shit Nazis began looking around for a similar system upon which to base their own. You can probably guess the one which most caught their attention. That’s right. The U.S.’s fucking Jim Crow laws. We all know what happened next. The Jewish people of Germany, and then conquered Europe, found themselves facing harsher and more restricting laws, eventually leading to the ghettos, and then the horrors of the Holocaust. This all started in the 1930’s with a series of laws that disenfranchised Jewish people and barred them from certain jobs, civil and academic positions being top of the list. Not really being down with this whole turn of events, and sensing the coming trouble, many Jews chose to flee Germany, many to the United States.

Now at the time, the U.S. didn’t really have a refugee policy, just a super restrictive and racist immigration policy which only allowed in so many of each “type” of person each year. As a result, only so many Jewish people fleeing from Germany were able to get into the U.S., with priority given to those who were seen to have valuable skills, such as university professors. Now some of the more famous of these professors, such as Albert Einstein, found the U.S. to be a very welcoming place. Unfortunately, this was not true for the not so famous professors, who upon arriving, found that anti-semitism was totally a thing in the United States as well. Despite many having some pretty fantastic credentials, the major American universities wanted nothing to do with them. As a result, most of these Jewish academics ended up getting whatever teaching jobs they could get, with many ending up in the South teaching at various colleges set up by the disenfranchised black community.

Thus it was that the strange flows of history created a situation where the severely underfunded black colleges of the American South were given access to professors who would have seen such positions to be beneath them if conditions had been different. Thousands of students were taught by these professors over the proceeding decades, gaining access to a level of education that they might not have otherwise had. This led to better trained African-American academics and more members of the black community clawing their way up into the American middle class, which in turn helped foster the growth of the Civil Rights movement, which eventually resulted in the desegregation of schools in 1954, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965; ending the Jim Crow era.