Bigotry's Permanent Appeal

I grew up in the Deep South. I was born in New Orleans but spent most of my first 40 years living just north of the city in what is still unapologetically called "plantation country." When I was a kid in the '50s and '60s, the vilest racial epithets were casually tossed about.  Jim Crow held sway; racism was rampant.  I was witness to a great many acts of racial hatred, particularly in the '60s as the schools integrated.  I'm old enough to recall seeing on the nightly news video footage of Bull Connor and his troops turning the fire hoses on women and children in Birmingham.  But racism wasn't always, or even mostly, manifested in the way you've seen it depicted in popular literature and in the movies -- or in the news of the time. In 1963, Hannah Arendt famously described the banality of evil.  The idea resonates.  So often, that's the way the most vicious racism was evinced: not through anger, but rather in workaday and otherwise unremarkable moments. I...(Read Full Article)