TSA: What Would Rosa Parks Do?
By Mary Theroux • Wednesday December 1, 2010 9:12 AM PST •
Today marks the 55th anniversary of Rosa Parks’s refusal to move to the back of the bus. As she explained in her book, Quiet Strength:
Our mistreatment was just not right, and I was tired of it.
Institutionalized by racist laws and upheld by racist governments, especially across the American South, such humiliations were daily visited as part of riding public transit.
Rosa Parks’s dramatic refusal sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott and eventually led to governments having to back down across the board, from public buses, to public schools, to rescinding black codes and Jim Crow laws that constrained private commerce and voluntary relations among races.
Today, pundits from the left to neocon right argue that airline passengers give up their rights when they “choose” to travel by plane. They would no doubt have argued that Ms. Parks similarly gave up her rights when she “chose” to ride the public bus.
Ms. Parks in her simple eloquence knew such thinking was just plain wrong. Whether an individual is ordered out of her seat by a public bus driver or made to either “assume the position” or be subjected to unwanted intimate contact by command of a government agent, she is no longer sovereign; she is a subject.
Ms. Parks knew when it was time to say enough. Do we?
For more on the State’s role in upholding and institutionalizing racism and injustice, see our book Race and Liberty in America
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