Civil rights veteran insulted by bathroom issue comparison

Twitter directed me to this oped piece, which originally ran in The Charlotte Observer. An excerpt:

Let us be clear: HB2 cannot be compared to the injustice of Jim Crow. In fact, it is insulting to liken African Americans’ continuing struggle for equality in America to the liberals’ attempt to alter society’s accepted norms.

Recently, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch compared HB2 to Jim Crow. Jim Crow laws were put into place to keep an entire race positioned as second-class citizens. HB2 simply says that men and women should use the restroom of their biological sex in government buildings and schools. This comparison is highly offensive and utterly disrespectful to those families and individuals who have shed blood and lost lives to advance the cause of civil rights. I take this as a personal slap in the face because I was an active participant in the civil rights movement….

The piece is accompanied by an old AP photo showing the author, Clarence Henderson, participating in a sit-in at a Woolworth’s counter in Greensboro in 1960. Which sort of establishes his credentials.


Me, I’m just glad it’s North Carolina that has stepped into this big time, and not us. Mr. Henderson would probably not agree…

15 thoughts on “Civil rights veteran insulted by bathroom issue comparison

      1. Mark Stewart

        I wasn’t around, but I am pretty sure there was a heavy biologically based proposition inherent in Jim Crow.

        Furthermore, what struck me about the similarities were the impacts of the “not for Coloreds” racism. It didn’t matter how black – or white, or asian, or American Indian – one was; it was all about how one group of people perceived others. Exclusion was in the eye of the restrictor. There was no threshold after which one could escape; it didn’t matter if one were 1/4 or 1/8 or 1/16 or even not black at all – if someone white objected, that’s all that mattered.

        The same standard of prejudice is at play here with this bathroom brouhaha. It’s myopic not to see that.

        Why is human dignity not available equally to all? Why are civil rights not available equally to all? Why do some people get to legislate governmental control over the lives of others? Why are some groups’ slights more worthy than other people’s struggle to resist the bigotry they face?

  1. Karen Pearson

    It’s unenforceable except possibly in schools, unless you are going to require everyone to have their birth certificate with them if there’s any remote possibility that they’re going to use a public bathroom. Transgender folks are very different than transvestites. They take hormones and undergo surgery in order to become the gender that they actually feel they are. These folks are not men in drag. There’s already been an incident where a woman (biologically so) was accosted by another woman who thought she was a man. She apparently did not meet the second woman’s concept of what a “woman” looks like. The first woman was totally embarrassed and humiliated. Transgender people have always used the bathroom of their gender. They have the sense to wait until they are far enough along the way to change to do so. If there’s a hulking 6 foot man with a 5 o’clock shadow lurking in the restroom by all means scream, douse him in pepper spray, and call the police. Remember, there are private stalls in the ladies rooms, and no one should be peering over the doors. And nobody does, including transgender folks.

    1. Barry

      Apparently it’s been an issue somewhere since the city council in Charlotte felt it was such a pressing issue they had to pass a law on it.

      If it was going on without incident anyway, why the need for Charlotte to pass the law and stir it up?


    2. Barry

      BTW- at my daughters school- they have individual bathrooms – not group bathrooms.

      Probably a good thing since just today a report came out that at South Fort Myers High School in Florida a female middle school student and a group of as many as 25 boys were found out to be having sex (1 female- having sex with up to 25 boys) in a bathroom at the school.

      Non issue- at least until someone feels like that individual bathrooms are discriminatory against someone.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        As a communitarian, I am offended by individual bathrooms!


        Seriously, that must be a small school.

        Speaking of communal experiences, what about locker rooms?

        I suspect (but don’t know) that kids today don’t experience locker rooms the way we did. In our day, it was kind of like being in the military. Everybody had to strip down and shower together during P.E., and privacy was in no way a consideration. You got used to being naked around other guys, or you had a problem.

        P.E. was mandatory, and showers after P.E. were mandatory. When my kids took P.E., the showers were no longer required — which was easier on their modesty, although it doesn’t sound terrible clean.

        Anyway, how do locker rooms play into this debate? Because a biological male assuming the role of a female (and vice versa) would have been extremely conspicuous in the locker rooms of my youth — and an object of much interest, of course.

        For that matter, what are or should be the rules for a male identifying as a female who wants to play on the girls’ soccer or softball or volleyball team?

        Obviously, I haven’t thought a lot about this issue, since these questions are just now occurring to me…

  2. Jeff Mobley

    Times like these make me wonder:

    What if, 60 years ago, southern whites, particularly self-identified Christians, had treated their black neighbors with more decency? What if they had stood up back then to say that the institutionalized discrimination written in the laws was wrong and had to end?

    We talk here from time to time about leaving most decisions in the hands of state and local government. Those of us who are conservative gripe about federal overreach (including the federal edict about bathroom and locker room access).

    What if, when it mattered 60 years ago, southern state and local governments had protected their citizens in a worthy manner? What if federal civil rights legislation had been, dare I say it, unnecessary?

    What if, had some redneck restaurant proprietor told a black citizen she wasn’t welcome in his establishment, she could have thought to herself, “Well, that guy’s a jerk,” and simply walked across the street or driven a couple blocks to another restaurant that welcomed and served her?

    But that wasn’t the case. The discrimination wasn’t isolated. It was pervasive, and again, codified into law. There was no recourse in local and state government. Those entities were hostile toward their black citizens, and so, yes, the federal government had to come to the rescue.

    If that had not been necessary, if southern whites had done the decent thing of their own volition 60 years ago, then how different would the relationships among the federal government, state governments, and citizens look today?

    In such an alternative universe, maybe conservatives could talked about “states rights”, and not be perceived with suspicion. Maybe, when facing a social or political controversy, our first instinct wouldn’t be to look to Washington to solve it. Maybe we’d never even consider the idea of forcing a bakery to make a cake they didn’t want to make, no matter the reason. Maybe a mass proliferation of single-occupancy bathrooms in our schools would be enough to satisfy everyone. Maybe we’d all be a little bit more free.

    It’s really a shame.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      It’s interesting that you raise this point on the same day that I wrote about the feds trying to get out ahead of our state on prosecuting Roof.

      It’s important that SOUTH CAROLINA prosecute Roof, and that the world see us doing it — just as it was essential that SOUTH CAROLINA decide to take the flag down. If some federal lawsuit or other external action had removed the flag (as some once hoped), no good would have been accomplished. It was South Carolina’s problem to deal with, and we needed to deal with it.

      Similarly, we need the experience of administering justice in this horrific crime that has struck us all to the heart. South Carolina can bring justice to bear in a way that is far more meaningful than anything the feds might do…

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        This isn’t about state’s rights. This is about our state’s responsibility. This isn’t on the feds. It’s on us…

        Moreover, there’s not a single reason in the world for anyone to doubt our resolve to carry out that responsibility.

    2. Barry

      Some did stand up – in fact a lot of “self identified Christians” stood up.

      and a lot of them didn’t.

      and some non Christians stood up too

      and a lot of them didn’t.

      and concerning the so called bathroom bills- I don’t think any “conservative” wants Washington to try to solve it. In fact, it’s just the opposite.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *