Sign America Has Moved Too Far to the Right: Norman Rockwell Is Considered a "Radical"
I don't think anything can illustrate how far the country has moved to the right than the fact that Normal Rockwell, once considered the very definition of straight-laced, conservative, middle America, is now controversial among the DC chattering classes:
President Barack Obama has taken a decidedly low-key approach to racial issues since he became America’s first black president two years ago. But in a hallway outside the Oval Office, he has placed a head-turning painting depicting one of the ugliest racial episodes in U.S. history.
Norman Rockwell’s “The Problem We All Live With,” installed in the White House last month, shows U.S. marshals escorting Ruby Bridges, a 6-year-old African-American girl, into a New Orleans elementary school in 1960 as court-ordered integration met with an angry and defiant response from the white community.
The thrust of the painting is not subtle. America’s vilest racial epithet appears in letters several inches high at the top of the canvas. To the left side, the letters “KKK” are plainly visible. The crowds, mostly women who gathered daily to taunt Bridges as she went to a largely empty school, are not shown in the picture. But the racist graffiti and a splattered tomato convey the hostile atmosphere.
The commie bastard. It's not as if these people literally spray painted racist epithets on the wall. How dare Rockwell suggest that anything like that actually happened:
In November 15, 1960 The New York Times reported: “Some 150 white, mostly housewives and teenage youths, clustered along the sidewalks across from the William Franz School when pupils marched in at 8:40 am. One youth chanted “Two, Four, Six, Eight, we don’t want to segregate; eight, six, four, two, we don’t want a chigeroo.”
“Forty minutes later, four deputy marshals arrived with a little Negro girl and her mother. They walked hurriedly up the steps and into the yellow brick building while onlookers jeered and shouted taunts.”
“The girl, dressed in a stiffly starched white dress with a ribbon in her hair, gripping her mother’s hand tightly and glancing apprehensively toward the crowd.
Ruby Bridges in her award winning childrens book Through My Eyes writes: “The author John Steinbeck was driving through New Orleans with his dog, Charley, when he heard about the racist crowds that gathered outside the Franz school each morning to protest its integration. He decided to go see what was happening.”
“He especially wanted to see a group of women who came to scream at me and at the few white children who crossed the picket lines and went to school...
John Steinbeck wrote: “The show opened on time. Sound the sirens. Motorcycle cops. Then two big black cars filled with big men in blond felt hats pulled up in front of the school. The crowd seemed to hold its breath. Four big marshals got out of each car and from somewhere in the automobiles they extracted the littlest negro girl you ever saw, dressed in shining starchy white, with new white shoes on feet so little they were almost round. Her face and little legs were very black against the white.”
“The big marshals stood her on the curb and a jangle of jeering shrieks went up from behind the barricades. The little girl did not look at the howling crowd, but from the side the whites of her eyes showed like those of a frightened fawn. The men turned her around like a doll and then the strange procession moved up the broad walk toward the school, and the child was even more a mite because the men were so big. Then the girl made a curious hop, and I think I know what it was. I think in her whole life she had not gone ten steps without skipping, but now in the middle of her first step, the weight bore her down and her little round feet took measured, reluctant steps between the tall guards. Slowly they climbed the steps and entered the school.” -Travels With Charley
Yes, that all really happened. And 50 years later, we are apparently supposed to forget it did. Clearly the Politico sees something odd, if not downright sinister, about the President putting this picture up in the White House. The fact that he is an American, born in the year that painting was done --- and has two little girls himself --- can't possibly be reason enough. I'm fairly sure he's cynically doing it to insult the tea party.