The Same-Old New Hatred against Equal Rights
She was surrounded by a hostile, angry mob. They chanted, hurled profanities, and screamed at her. They spat on her. They threatened her. She walked calmly up to the schoolhouse door. A local ordinance had finally granted people like her admission, and the crowd was boiling with fury. Then the National Guard turned her away, and she was forced to walk back through the crowd to a bus stop. She waited there a long time, with the rabid mob abusing her all the while. Her name was Elizabeth Eckford. The date was September 4, 1957. The location was Little Rock, Arkansas.
She was surrounded by a hostile, angry mob. They chanted and screamed. They threatened her. They spat in her eye. They shoved her and blocked her path. She walked calmly away from the statehouse door. A state law had finally reaffirmed protections for people like her, and the crowd was hopping mad. The presence of state police did not deter these actions, although it likely prevented worse ones. She finally maneuvered away from the crowd. Her name was Michelle Evans. The date was August 7, 2023. The location was Austin, Texas.
The stories are not quite the same, but the similarities between these two incidents, 66 years apart, are too obvious to ignore. Both involve a mob so angry at the legal recognition of a civil right that they would scream at, threaten, and literally spit upon those they view as the enemy.
Elizabeth Eckford was one of the Arkansas Nine, one of the first black students to desegregate a high school, and who had the misfortune to arrive early. The crowd’s fury against her was memorialized in a photo that did the 1950s equivalent of going viral nationwide.
Michelle Evans is the Austin chapter leader for the Independent Women’s Forum and, along with young female athletes like Riley Gaines, Paula Scalan, and Macy Petty, had attended a ceremony at which Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) had signed a new law protected women’s sports from the intrusion of male competitors.
There are some obvious differences between these incidents. Whereas, in 1957, the governor had sided with the mob, which represented the sentiments of the vast majority of the population, the mob in 2023 stands at odds with both the governor and the vast majority of Americans. The 1957 mob was larger, more compact, and more dangerous, but even in 2023 the mob numbered in the hundreds and was close enough to physically assault their targets. Still, this seems to indicate that America’s problems today are less than they were 70 years ago.
In 1957, relying on junk science about racial distinctives, a mob made too much out of superficial genetic differences and sought to reinforce an unfair system of discrimination that treated people differently for no good reason. In 2023, relying on junk science about made-up gender categories, a mob made too little out of fundamental genetic differences and sought to dismantle a fair system of discrimination that treated people differently based on demonstrable differences in athletic ability.
One more parallel is that neither display of hatred is an isolated event. After surviving her first harrowing experience, Eckford endured routine abuse from her classmates throughout the school year. They kicked and punched her, shoved her down the stairs, spit on her, composed humiliating songs, and threw anything and everything at her, including sharpened pencils, rock-filled snowballs, an egg, a tomato, and broken glass.
Trans-identifying opponents of women’s sports are also accumulating quite an aggressive record. In April, trans-identifying demonstrators attacked counter-protestors on the recently invented “Transgender Day of Visibility.” Weeks later, an angry mob ran Riley Gaines out of a university presentation, surrounding her, assaulting her, and trapping her inside a classroom for hours. Last month, biological male Lia Thomas, who took home first prize at an NCAA championship in women’s swimming, appeared on social media in a shirt that read “Antifa Super Soldier,” evoking both the loose organization of violent, left-wing street enforcers and the Marvel-universe villains with laboratory-enhanced combat abilities. In fact, there is a growing pattern of violence by mentally disturbed individuals who identify as transgender, which the media both cultivates and ignores.
This new, unjust intolerance has seemingly sprung out of nowhere, based on nothing. Trans-identifying males have no good argument for why the categories reserved for women should be forced to include them — nay, let them dominate. Thus, they have no good justification for the strange hatred they show for women attempting to stand up for their own hard-won spaces. The only reason they put forward is that the rest of society must cater to every whim of their imagination, and that’s simply not how the world works.
Joshua Arnold is a staff writer at The Washington Stand.