Apartheid Yardbirds and The Saints


I have lunch with a good friend of mine at Alcorn State fairly often. Not long after we met, we discovered that we had quite a bit in common. Not only were we the same age, but we had both grown up in the 1960’s in the river city of Natchez. We both have two kids, and our daughters attend the same college. Plus, we both have a passion for providing opportunities for young people to grow and excel. Having so much in common, you might have thought we probably would have crossed paths so many years ago in Natchez, but that wasn’t the case.

As with many towns across the South, the lines of demarcation between white and black sections of town were very clearly delineated, and there was very little interaction between the two. That began to change in earnest around Christmas 1969 when a Federal judge decided it was time to bring the full weight of the law behind earlier decisions to desegregate Southern schools. The schools remained closed for an extra two weeks during Christmas vacation, and when they re-opened, school districts had been re-drawn, several schools had been re-named, and life as we knew it in Natchez had changed forever.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Eventually, it had to change.  Whether it was for the better, the historians will decide.

I was thinking about this while the chicken was on the grill — marinated in garlic-pepper sauce — and the aroma was, I’m sure, making the neighbors pretty darnqtime.jpg jealous on this overcast and breezy Sunday afternoon. I would check on the bird, and walk back over and the french door and keep an eye on the Saints-Eagles game. Mrs. Nuke was so delighted that I was taking care of the entree that she decided to whip up several side dishes; pear salad, green beans wrapped in bacon, dirty rice, and a big bowl of banana pudding (made with big slices of fresh bananas, vanilla wafers, and a cool whip topping). Dang!

Just as Carney kicked the last-second FG to lift the Saints over the Eagles, I was finishing up my second helpings of dinner, and was just about to dig in to the banana pudding. That was about a half-hour ago, and I’m still so full I could pop. Ahhh, life is good.

Those of us who grew up in The South in the 60’s and earlier know a little bit about apartheid. It wasn’t called apartheid. In fact, the first time I even heard that word was about 20 years ago when it started to become fashionable to punish South Africa for its racial policies by having Western portfolio managers dump investments in companies that did business with South Africa. Apartheid is what they called the official government policy of racial separation. It seemed a lot more harsh and brutal than did the segregationist policies of my youth in Natchez, but frankly, I was on the white side of the dividing line, and I really don’t know what it was like for the blacks.

But what started me thinking about this subject was an article from across the pond about Apartheid in Britain. The editorial writer who is discussing the muslim practice of separating themselves from British society, has decided that this constitutes Apartheid. Sorry, but I’ve got to call BS on this one. It is a mistake to equate the individual right of free association with a government sanctioned separation of races. It ain’t the same thing. And, regardless of how I feel about the voluntary separation that muslims are imposing upon themselves, to call it Apartheid is changing the definition of an evil practice and assigning the same motives to a minority.

I’m not letting the muslims off the hook either. If you folks want to separate yourselves from the mainstream societies of your adoptive countries, then fine, so be it. But don’t come hollering about “discrimination” and “intolerance” when I do the same thing. You see, I’ve got the same rights of free association as you claim for yourselves. Plus, if you intend to live in your adoptive country, then reign in your kids, and get on the with business of living your lives in a free and open society.

The editorial writer at The Telegraph was spot-on in this paragraph:

It will take compromises, but it will also take a determined signal about what we as a nation will and will not accept. It will require an understanding about what we mean by mutual respect and tolerance. Essentially, it is straightforward. I respect your religion, you respect mine, and we all respect our laws. That means that we respect the universality of our laws, with no special treatment for any one group.

Yup. It sure does. (Oh, how bout them Saints, heh™)

6 Responses

  1. When I went to school, segregation was a done deal; I don’t recall feeling any particular angst about it. Were I a city child, no doubt the parents would have fled to the suburbs out of fear of the unknown; as a rural child, well, nearly all were in the same straitened circumstances and to escape a life of poverty while I was still in elementary school, my stepdad took a job as a traveling welder and we traveled west toward opportunity.

  2. When I was talking from my friend at Alcorn, we were recalling that Christmas of 1968, and it was interesting to hear him say that the black kids were just as nervous as the white kids about the changes.

    When I think about the forced changes going on in Iraq, I have some of those same rememberences, knowing that it took 100 years in the US from the end of the Civil War to the late 60’s to end government sanctioned segregation. It’s going to take them a long time to reconcile their tribal differences. And when I read about the Muslims in Western Europe, trying to re-create the failed societies that they came from, it just seems like a giant step backwards.

    I don’t give a rat’s azz if muslims want to assimilate into this country or not. But to want to claim a separate society on the one hand, and then claim discrimination and intolerence from society at large truly sticks in my craw. They cannot have it both ways.

  3. Exactly. If you self-segregate, you cannot complain about being segregated. It’s like refusing to leave your side of town and then complaining about the dating pool of singles available.

  4. Nuke a lovely article well written with a good perspective on the issues. I wish I had more time now to write of the many thoughts it has raised. I also agree totally with your comment,

    “I don’t give a rat’s azz if muslims want to assimilate into this country or not. But to want to claim a separate society on the one hand, and then claim discrimination and intolerence from society at large truly sticks in my craw. They cannot have it both ways.”

    I have known many good Muslims, really nice guys who want to live in the UK and who contribute, retain their religion but wear it lightly. The problem is Islam. When it segregates the internal dynamics are re-inforced. Incidentally Histi Ali has said that making fun of Islam is an important aspect of getting it to reform, which is why I lampoon the so often.

  5. […] Now Public — nuke @ 6:22 pm I grew up in the river city of Natchez, Mississippi. I remember these times, and these crimes and others like them. It has taken 40 years for the wheels of justice to finally […]

  6. […] Apartheid Yardbird and the Saints […]

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