The right wishing to bring the nation back to its discriminatory past
Sunday 5 December 2021 | 2 a.m
A political science professor stands in front of a crowd and calls for women to be kept away from engineering schools, medical schools and the legal profession so that they can instead focus on “female goals” such as “cleaning up and having children”. Being in the workforce, he says, has made modern women “more medicated, intrusive, and quarrelsome than women should be.”
No, it’s not part of a dusty history book. It happened in October at a conservative conference in Florida, and the professor was Scott Yenor of Boise State.
And here’s the kicker: Yenor’s chauvinistic comments apparently raised no eyebrows among conference attendees. It wasn’t until the video of the professor’s speech went viral last week that it drew criticism.
It’s a snapshot of where America’s New Right wants to lead the country – to a world characterized by sexism, racism and anti-Semitism.
We see it in various forms, including the Conservative Supreme Court majority seeking to effectively repeal Roe v. Wade. Meanwhile, Republican leaders in several states have endorsed their own restrictions on women’s reproductive rights, voter suppression laws that disproportionately affect communities of color, and more. And meanwhile, the GOP, by not condemning white supremacy, has embraced it.
As the Conservatives attempt to step back to a more discriminatory time for our country, it is worth highlighting exactly what that looked like for groups whose rights were taken away. Here are some selected examples.
• Until the enactment of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act of 1974, women could not open a bank account or obtain credit cards, loans or mortgages in their name, at least without the co-signature of their husbands or from a male parent.
• Women could not sit on a jury in all 50 states until 1968.
• Until 1971, female law graduates and members of the bar could be prevented from pleading a client’s case.
• Women could not be admitted to all Ivy League schools until 1977, when Harvard became the last of the schools to accept women. They were also excluded from West Point Military Academy until 1976.
• Until the adoption of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, a woman could lose her job for taking maternity leave. Until 1964, it was legal for employers to reject female applications solely on the basis of their gender.
• Several states prohibited unmarried women from obtaining birth control pills until the early 1970s. Others required married women to obtain their husbands’ permission in order to obtain a prescription.
• Until the 1960s, adoption agencies generally issued blanket bans on requests from single women to adopt children.
• As most Americans are well aware, the Jim Crow laws restricted the voting rights of blacks, as well as their property and civil rights. These laws also excluded African Americans from public transportation and facilities, jury service, jobs, schools, and white neighborhoods. However, the Jim Crow era also solidified several social and cultural norms that relegated blacks to second-class status.
• Among these norms: a black could not initiate a handshake with a white because it implied being socially equal; Blacks could not kiss or show affection towards each other in public because this was considered offensive to whites; white motorists were given the right of way under all circumstances; and blacks were required to use courtesy titles when addressing whites, but the reverse was not required.
• Until the late 1960s, so-called sunset towns and neighborhoods were common across the country. These predominantly white communities have banned minorities at certain times, often after sunset. These areas included Minden and Gardnerville, which prohibited Native Americans at certain times. Despite opposition, Minden continues to blow a whistle that was used to alert the Native Americans to leave town.
• Until the passage of the Fair Housing Act in 1968, redlining was legal. This practice, adopted by the federal government in the 1930s, allowed mortgage lenders to turn down loans for properties in areas considered “dangerous” – which are often home to large black, minority and immigrant populations. The aim was to deny people of color home ownership and to create a divestment in minority communities.
• The history of the United States is interspersed with anti-Semitic hate crimes and systemic racism against Jews, including lynchings, an immigration policy prohibiting Jews from entering the country, and joint pacts prohibiting American Jews from living. in some white communities. Today’s conservatives are lip service to Israel, but many do not condemn or disavow white supremacists. As might be expected, anti-Semitic hate crimes have increased in recent years.
• Before plunging into the pandemic, these hate crimes were reaching historic levels. The Anti-Defamation League reported that crimes against Jews in 2019 reached the highest level ever recorded since the ADL began tracking incidents in the 1970s. In 2018, the level was the third highest never recorded.
• In 2018, Jews were more than twice as likely as Blacks and other communities of color to be the target of hate crimes. (We’ll note a caveat about this study: it does not include police street checks and other forms of intimidation that black communities perceive as outright hate crimes.)
• Also in 2018, Jews and LGBTQ people were the most frequent targets of hate crimes.
Again, this is just a sampling of the many ways these groups have been discriminated against – and would still face discrimination today if it weren’t for advances in social justice.
Nor are they the only groups that have experienced racial violence and institutionalized prejudice. Hispanic Americans and Asian Americans have suffered forced deportations, forced internments, gang violence, sanctioned discrimination in the workplace, and many other forms of racism. Violence against Latino communities was particularly rampant in the 1960s and early 1970s. In some states, LGBTQ Americans faced criminal penalties for same-sex sex until 2003. Racism The nation’s intergenerational genocide against Native Americans is a chapter in itself.
For millions of Americans, this was life in our nation under white and Christian male domination. And it was so until very recently, well in the memory of the baby boomers.
Fortunately, the nation has enjoyed over the past decades the gains that a progressive America has achieved for all. Much more progress is needed, but the arc has leaned towards greater equality.
Now, however, these gains are threatened daily by the GOP and its extremist masters.
Will the Americans allow this to happen?