Thursday, March 3, 2011

Scarlett's Rainbow

Great to be visiting Legal History, thanks to Mary for the invitation! While chipping away at a new project on southern moderates & civil rights, I came across Sharon Davies' recent book, Rising Road: A True Tale of Love, Race, and Religion in America on anti-Catholicism and the Klan in Alabama in the 1920s. A great read, the book has pushed me to question how Catholics generally responded to the Klan in the 1920s and 30s. For example, did Margaret Mitchell, a Catholic, intentionally make Scarlett O'Hara Catholic in order to undermine the Klan's claims to Anglo Saxon, Protestant hegemony in 1920s Atlanta? While her black characters remain racist caricatures (as Grace Elizabeth Hale shows brilliantly in Making Whiteness), Mitchell's white characters seem to paint Protestants (Ashley and Melanie) as weak, meanwhile elevating Catholics and white ethnics (the "swarthy" Rhett Butler) as saviors of the New South. Could this help explain southern moderate Lewis F. Powell, Jr.'s bizarre mention of whites as a conglomeration of “various minority groups,” including “Austrian resident aliens,” “white Anglo-Saxon Protestants,” and “Celtic Irishmen,” in short Scarlett’s people – in Regents v. Bakke in 1978?