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Title: The uses and abuses of anti-communism by southern segregationists as a weapon of massive resistance, 1948-1965
Authors: Lewis, George David Gwynder
Issue Date: 2000
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: Within the United States, the southern strategy of Massive Resistance to federally mandatedr acial desegregationh ad its origins in 1948, a year which saw the confirmation of Cold War hostilities in Europe. As a result, the dialogue surrounding matters of race was infused with Cold War rhetoric. Between 1950 and 1954, Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy added to this milieu, reinvigorating anticommunism and red-baiting as political weapons. Allied to the traditional southern fear of "outsiders," many southerns egregationists seized upon anti-communism as a weapon to undermine opponents promoting change to the region's racial status quo. This thesis, however, challenges the notion that all segregationists used anticommunism against all integrationists at all times. Rather, anti-communism could be a subtle, flexible political tool which individuals and groups tailored to suit their own needs. At times, it was used to rebuff specific civil rights campaigns, activists and organisations. At others, it was used sparingly. One of the main tenets of this thesis is that, hitherto, segregationists have commonly been treated in rather one-dimensional terms by historians of the civil rights movement. By examining their diverse responses to anti-communism and wider Cold War anxieties, it is argued that they were not the homogeneous political group that many have suggested, but in many ways were as resourceful and pragmatic as those they opposed in the civil rights movement. This thesis also examines some apparent anomalies in the uses of anticommunism and Cold War rhetoric. Opponents of segregation berated segregationists for undermining America's attempts to court newly independent, post-colonial states in the Caribbean, Asia and Africa. No predominately non-white country, they argued, would align with the US-dominated West rather than the Soviet East with such blatant racism endemic in the American South. Segregationists were accused of being more totalitarian than their Soviet counterparts, and of bringing Soviet-style one party rule to the region. Finally, by looking in depth at two southern states, North Carolina and Virginia, this thesis will do more justice to the nuances and complexities of anticommunism than would be possible in a broader, regional study. Both states were at the legislative forefront of Massive Resistance, and both propounded a more sophisticated -- though no less determined -- brand of racism than most of their counterpartsi n the Deep South, largely as a consequence of their reliance on external investment.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of Historical Studies

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