How One Civil Right Protected Civil Rights Heroes

51l689ISD+L._SL500_AA240_There was a time when the fight for civil rights involved courageous men standing up to government-imposed segregation. (This was before it became the shake-down racket it is today.)

Over at Volokh Conspiracy, there’s a wonderful account by one such civil rights bad-ass, John Salter, about how when the media cameras weren’t around, the only thing that kept him and his fellow rebels safe was the fact they exercised their most important civil right — their right to self-defense with whatever arms they so chose.

Here’s a taste:

Later, I worked for years in the Deep South as a full-time civil rights organizer. Like a martyred friend of mine, NAACP staffer Medgar W. Evers, I, too, was on many Klan death lists and I, too, traveled armed: a .38 special Smith and Wesson revolver and a 44/40 Winchester carbine.

The knowledge that I had these weapons and was willing to use them kept enemies at bay. Years later, in a changed Mississippi, this was confirmed by a former prominent leader of the White Knights of the KKK when we had an interesting dinner together at Jackson.

Again, I was glad I had many firearms and, again, we guarded our home and let this be known. We responded to hate calls on the telephone by telling the callers we were quite prepared for them.

(Notably, the gun control movement in America traces its roots to the effort to keep free blacks disarmed. See this book, the Spirit and the Shotgun. Great read.)


  1. Oh goodness says:

    The so-called Civil Rights movement is of course an thorny dilemma for any libertarian.

    Tacit or explicit endorsement implies that the government can interfere in transactions between private individuals outside of preventing force or fraud.

    “Oh, but wait!” will say the libertarian. “Th Th Th There was force or fraud, somehow!” The implication of course, is that force and fraud are defined in a political context, by a political body, and have no fixed meaning. As the political and cultural winds shift, what was not “force or fraud” one day, becomes “force or fraud” the next. Thus, libertarianism is debunked and destroyed.

    On the other hand, if the libertarian doesn’t support “Civil Rights”, well, this contradicts the implicitly universalist nature of libertarianism. Thus, libertarianism is debunked and destroyed.

    Let us see how the discussion proceeds. I eagerly await the libertarian two-step.

  2. You don’t even make sense, Oh Goodness.

    The original Civil Rights movement campaigned against Jim Crow laws — laws which told people who they could invite into their own store, restaurant, home, or business, and which circumscribed equal protection under the law by enforcing discrimination in public amenities and services.

    If it’s your private property, discriminate all you want. But don’t tell others who they can or cannot do business with.

    It’s funny — people don’t realize the only reason there were Jim Crow laws is because businesses that discriminated didn’t want to have to compete openly against businesses that only cared about the color of money.

  3. Oh goodness says:

    Revisionist tosh.

    Let’s cut to the chase, and you go ahead and give me your “libertarian” take on (1) Brown vs. Board, and (2) Eisenhower’s actions in the associated Little Rock Crisis.

  4. Daniel says:

    My head hurts trying to discern Oh goodness’s point — possibly it’s a fraud, but it’s definitely not forceful, by any standard, fixed or nay. What I really want is a transcipt of the “interesting dinner together in Jackson.” (Shades of Liddy and Leary, or Flynt and Fallwell, if you prefer.)

    Also, Trey, you cannot “discriminate all you want” (along lines of race, color, creed, etc.; you can certainly refuse service to a jackass & a smelliman) at a commercial establishment, just because it’s private property — nor should you be able to.

  5. Daniel says:

    Oh, yeah: Peter & The Wailers


    (How’s that for revisionist tosh?)

  6. Frank R says:

    Brown vs. Topeka overturned the separate but equal laws. Since the public schools are funded by public money, they must be open to all. The justices decided that separate facilities were inherently not equal. The decision struck down a law which was discriminatory. It did not step on anyone’s rights. Quite the contrary.

    As to private establishments, they can discriminate. Whether they should or not, is another question, but not a legal one.

  7. doubts says:

    Too easy oh goodness. The pure libertarian stance on brown vs board is that the problem goes back further than brown. the problem exists in federal government interference in education. Without federal run education there would be no federal laws about segregation in schools because the fedwould have no say in schools. Which means schools wopuld also not have had the anvil of no child legt behind tied to their necks either.

  8. Oh goodness says:


    First, I’ll mention that Garrison, stung by repeated charges of racism, is rightly hiding from the Brown vs. Board discussion.

    Now, Doubts makes the point that the libertarian issue with Brown vs. Board is federal involvement. Thus, he implicitly asserts that libertarians see nothing wrong with a segregated school policy administered by state or local government, or by a private school. Libertarians, is this correct?

  9. Daniel says:

    If it weren’t for those meddling feds, the South would still have slavery.

    Cannot Libertarians agree that “protecting our rights” is a legitimate function (perhaps the primary one) of the federal government? I should certainly think so. Chortle at my naivete as you will, but certainly the Supreme Court did just that during the Civil Rights era.

    Of course, no doubt two out of three* Tea Partiers** would have us amend the Constitution to add restrictive clauses to the definition of marriage. They’d probably*** mandate “teaching the controversy” (you know, are we made out of cells and chromosomes or fairy dust) and abstinence-only “education” (birth control doesn’t even really work! remember that, kids, next time you’re tempted to have sex! and Hell, while we’re at it, how’s about you gals out there go to a deeply creepy event with your father, where it’s sort of like a “date” and you pledge that your heart belongs to Daddy and he gives you a chastity belt of your very own?), too.

    Just throwing that out there.

    * Source: My Ass.

    ** Teabaggers was funny at first but it’s run its course.

    *** Probability ratio = I’ll bet you they would, they’re just that stupid. Look at their dumb-looking faces!

  10. “Cannot Libertarians agree that “protecting our rights” is a legitimate function (perhaps the primary one) of the federal government?”

    That’s the only legitimate function of government at any level, Daniel. Which is why government mandated discrimination and discrimination by government is wrong at every level.

    (Whether school should be a government function is a separate issue. I personally don’t see how monopolies can be bad in every other consumer service, but good in education, but I’m saving that for another day.)

    As for the social conservative and religious nuts taking over the Tea Party movement — yeah, that’s my biggest worry for the group.

    They need to stick to taxes, spending, taxes and spending. And taxes. No more, no less. Period, full stop.

    Soon as they kowtow to the creationists, homophobes, and drug warrior set, my interest goes cold.

  11. Oh goodness says:

    “Which is why government mandated discrimination and discrimination by government is wrong at every level. ”

    Enough obfuscation.

    1. Brown Vs. Board -Right or wrong?
    2. Eisenhower’s actions vis-a-vis Brown vs. Board – Right or wrong?
    3. State laws permitting segregated schools – Right or wrong?
    4. Local laws permitting segregated schools -Right or wrong?
    5. Private citizens running segregated private schools – Right or wrong?


  12. Klingon bastards.

  13. Mark says:

    @ Oh Goodness and @ dreck are pretty much the reason why I became disenchanted with self-proclaimed lefties over the years. What Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights movement accomplished was a great thing, and it is important to teach students about it, and celebrate those accomplishments in the media.

    That said, there were other voices in the civil rights movement, and if John Salter piques Trey’s interest, WTF is wrong with that? The narrative might diverge somewhat from conventional lefty pieties about gun control, but if it brings him to the table why make such determined efforts to kick out the props from under the table?

  14. Anonymous says:

    Tancredo… “Obama… was elected because we do not have a civics, literacy test before people can vote in this country,” …

  15. Doubts says:

    Oh Goodness.
    I will answer your question about segregation.
    I would, as I believe most libertarians would. Push my State and Local government to integrate schools, Private schools that receive zero tax dollars should of course be allowed to segregate. They would be a privately owned business subject to their own policies. I would argue, however that such segregated private institutions would fail rather quickly in this modern age as a diploma from one would brand one as a racist making them very undesirable in today’s marketplace.

  16. Censorship! says:

    I made a lengthy comment in this thread and Garrison blocked it! Censorship!

    What is Trey Garrison’s hidden agenda?

  17. My agenda is brunch, followed by a nap, a kung fu workout, spanking the wife, and then dinner.

    As to blocking — nothing in the spam filter, chief. Don’t know what happened.