posted 2022-01-04 00:44:06

dear confidential's mom:

"What is happening in the poor woman, the poor man's mind is this: they've been raised to believe, and by now they helplessly believe, that no matter how terrible their lives may be, and their lives have been quite terrible, and no matter how far they fall, no matter what disaster overtakes them, they have one enormous knowledge and consolation, which is like a heavenly revelation: at least they are not Black.

"Now, I suggest that of all the terrible things that can happen to a human being, that is one of the worst.

"I suggest that what has happened to white Southerners is in some ways, after all, much worse than what has happened to Negroes there because Sheriff Clark in Selma, Alabama, cannot be considered you know, no one can be dismissed as a total monster. I'm sure he loves his wife, his children; I'm sure, you know, he likes to get drunk. You know, after all, one's got to assume he is visibly a man like me. But he doesn't know what drives him to use the club, to menace with the gun, and to use the cattle prod. Something awful must have happened to a human being to be able to put a cattle prod against a woman's breasts, for example. What happens to the woman is ghastly. What happens to the man who does it is in some ways much much worse. This is being done, after all, not a hundred years ago, but in 1965, in a country which is blessed with what we call prosperity (a word we won't examine too closely), with a certain kind of social coherence, which calls itself a civilized nation, and which espouses the notion of the freedom of the world."

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