The Civil Rights era was a tumultuous period in the history of the US, where a minority of citizens rose up to combat the erosion of their rights. During that time conservatives, eager to maintain the status quo in the southern states actively fought against those that were deprived of their natural rights. This is what they looked like:
At the time, conservatives in both political parties were eager to keep the Jim Crow south segregated, while others believed that preserving state's rights was more important. Prominent conservative editor of "National Review" and one of the founders of the modern conservative movement William F. Buckley had this to say:
"We frown on any effort of the Negroes to attain social equality by bending the instrument of the state"
Some Democrats even remained detached from the issue for fear that they would lose votes in the Electoral College. When Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act in 1964 he purportedly turned to an aide and said that the Democrats had lost the South for a generation. Many conservative southern Democrats or "Dixiecrats" promptly defected to the Republican party because of this.
Eventually, the south was de-segregated and conservatives were proven to be on the wrong side of history.
Fast forward to the 21st century. Today another minority fights for equal rights, and once again, conservatives have risen up to keep this minority from enjoying the same rights of citizenship that every American enjoys. This is what they look like now:
Like the Civil Rights era, conservatives use excuses and rationalizations to justify their prejudices. "We're simply protecting marriage" has become the new "We're simply protecting state's rights". Meanwhile, these same conservatives are now trying to rewrite history and claim that they were always for giving blacks in the South equal rights. See Glenn Beck claiming that the Tea Party should "reclaim the Civil Rights movement" or the Heritage Foundation's blog on Martin Luther King Jr's conservative principles.
Now we see that the majority of public opinion is quickly shifting towards granting gays equal rights. Even top GOP pollsters are recognizing this and admonishing conservatives to recognize that fact.
Years from now conservatives will claim that they were the ones who fought for gays having equal rights all along. They say that those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it. Well conservatives seem to disagree as long as you can simply rewrite it.
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