Michael Gerson: 'Stony the Road' outlines the violent campaign to reverse Reconstruction

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  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    May 20, 2019 11:51 a.m.

    Reconstruction aimed high and fell short in the turmoil and chaos of post-Civil War politics. It’s easy to say it attempted too much, too soon. I first read the Civil Rights Act of 1875 in graduate school and was immediately struck by its language which sounded eerily like civil rights legislation of the 1960s. In my continuing studies I would learn that it was in fact the model used by 20th century reformers. For me, it was a startling revelation to learn that an earnest ambitious effort has been made a full century earlier when America was still picking itself up off the floor from the devastation of the Civil War.

    That the spirit of Reconstruction endured in a dormant state until a reincarnation was effected in the era of Martin Luther King and others is a testimonial to the irrepressible power of human yearnings. They do not die with efforts that previously failed them.

  • NoNamesAccepted St. George, UT
    May 17, 2019 11:58 a.m.

    @Roland Kayser: ".. speaks of "American Exceptionalism"."

    Because a single, horrible period undoes all the good? Shall we attack Abraham Lincoln for his comments that sound so horribly racist to our modern ears?

    Frankly, I tire of books attacking the South as uniquely racist. I say this as an active LDS whose people were only slightly less hated by the Night Riders than were blacks, Jews, and homosexuals. LDS and Catholics were attacked, murdered, and run out of the area along with those groups of larger numbers. So it would be easy for me to attack the South. But honesty and integrity demands something more.

    The single largest racial lynching in US history occurred in NYC. NY passed mandatory public school attendance laws specifically to attack Catholic Church and parental influence over their own children. The North was always highly segregated, while the South was tightly integrated until Reconstruction.

    Before attacking Southern "Redemption" efforts, let's start with the horrible policies of Reconstruction intended to punish the South for war rather than rebuild and reintegrate as Lincoln had wanted. We relearned the lessons when the Treaty of Versaise led to WWII.

  • Roland Kayser Cottonwood Heights, UT
    May 17, 2019 10:45 a.m.

    An important part of our history that many Americans were never taught in school. Keep it in mind when anyone speaks of "American Exceptionalism".

  • patrioticAMERICAN South Jordan, UT
    May 17, 2019 9:12 a.m.

    Wow--DN actually deigns to still print an opinion by Gerson! Shocking! The sad thing is Reconstruction is still alive and well in the South, with rampant gerrymandering & other voter suppression laws aimed at Blacks and minorities, (incl. a state A.G. who oversaw his own recent election for governor, purged thousands of minority people from the polls leading up to his election, closed a multitude of polling places in heavily minority districts, & "suggested" law enforcement should send people to watch over voters to make sure no one "cheated", etc.): cops who frequently racially-profile Blacks & minorities; Black churches being targeted for arson, and "stand-your-ground" laws in many of them which mostly seem to give whites an excuse to target minorities they perceive as threatening and shoot them with impunity (Treyvon is the classic example).

    Most of the immigration hardliners in Congress seem to be from the South. I wonder why that is?