Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Those wascawwy wabbits!

A book called The Glory Field was part of Son in Ohio's summer reading. He's had a hard time getting through the book for a number of reasons--not the least of which being that he objects to the whole idea of summer homework in the first place. Anyway, at some point, Son asked me if I would read some of it aloud to him, and I agreed. It turned out to be a decent way of helping keep him engaged in the story.

Ultimately, I finished the whole book myself while he was at school--he hasn't finished it himself yet, but is in the home stretch. The book follows five generations of one African-American family from Africa to a South Carolina plantation through the Civil War, the end of segregation and beyond, to a moving finale, when a young drug-addicted cousin is brought home to the glory field for a day of reunion and renewal.

Most recently, I was helping him get through the 1964 section, which deals with the end of segregation. One of the White characters misquotes Martin Luther King as saying that he wants to see "little White girls and little Black boys playing together." It is, of course, telling, that he would remember the quote that way, because, apparently that is the most threatening form of "race mixing" to many people.

And, reading this section, I was reminded that some people were so bent out of shape at the very idea of race mixing that they could project a diabolical pro-miscegenation agenda onto a pair of rabbits in a children's book. From a Time Magazine article printed in 1959...

It seems incredible that any sober adult could scent in this fuzzy cottontale for children the overtones of Karl Marx or even of Martin Luther King. But last week in Florida, Columnist Henry Balch thundered in the Orlando Sentinel (circ. 100,000): "As soon as you pick up the book, you realize these rabbits are integrated. One of the techniques of brainwashing is conditioning minds to accept what the brainwashers want accepted." In Alabama, State Senator E. O. Eddins agreed: "This book should be taken off the shelves and burned."
Wow. And people think Bugs Bunny is "wascawwy". He's got nothing on these two!