From Caste to Color Blindness: James J. Kilpatrick's Segregationist Semantics.
Journal of Southern History 2011, August, 77, 3
Journal of Southern History
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IT'S A BEAUTIFUL THING, THE DESTRUCTION OF WORDS," REMARKED ONE character in George Orwell's 1949 anti-authoritarian dystopian novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four. The British writer described a society where a totalitarian government strove to eliminate alternative thinking by removing words that denoted ideas of freedom and radicalism. "Newspeak," the fictional language suited to the state's ends, shrank the English dictionary and replaced it with a vocabulary designed to subdue and coerce the people. To conservative syndicated columnist and ardent segregationist James J. Kilpatrick, who had read and appreciated Orwell, the oppressive regime was not an imaginary institution but the post-New Deal liberal state that swept aside the old racial caste system of the South. (1) Twentieth-century liberalism, according to Kilpatrick, sought not to free men but to shackle them to the state. In editorials and columns that spanned the late twentieth century, he warned readers about the central government's encroachments in daily life and the dangers of racial equality. Few concerns disturbed Kilpatrick's mind more, and he struggled to develop a unified, popular, and persuasive basis for crippling liberal governance, even as he tried to express his beliefs without coarse racism. He talked and wrote about states' rights, strict constitutionalism, individual freedom, and anti-egalitarianism, but behind it all stood race. In the late 1960s and 1970s, the writer helped reclaim for conservatism a language of individualism and freedom of association meant to erase the troublesome issue of impolitic racial bigotry and to deprive civil rights leaders and liberals of arguments they had monopolized for almost a generation.
- Category: History
- Published: Aug 01, 2011
- Publisher: Southern Historical Association
- Seller: The Gale Group, Inc.
- Print Length: 58 Pages
- Language: English