Conservatives just can’t stop comparing protests against President Donald Trump’s secretary of education, Betsy DeVos, to segregation.
Here is the latest example, from political cartoonist Glenn McCoy:
my god pic.twitter.com/AhN1R4eRgX— Jamelle Bouie (@jbouie) February 14, 2017
This cartoon is an explicit reference to Ruby Bridges, who was the first black child to desegregate the all-white William Frantz Elementary School in Louisiana. Her heroic actions were captured in this painting by Norman Rockwell, which is now an iconic image of the civil rights era of the 1960s, depicting US Marshals escorting her to the school due to the threats of violence she faced:
As people on social media quickly pointed out pointed out, McCoy is not the first to use this talking point. Several conservative pundits made similar comparisons when protesters blocked DeVos from entering a Washington, DC, school:
apparently there was a memo. (via @felixgilman) pic.twitter.com/EBoysQbWNT— Bae Talese (@elongreen) February 10, 2017
It is incredible that this requires any explanation whatsoever, but protests against DeVos and racial segregation in American schools are not the same. The protests are politically motivated demonstrations against a single government official — the kind of person whom the public is supposed to hold accountable — who couldn’t answer basic education policy questions at Senate hearings. Segregation, meanwhile, was a racist policy that ostracized an entire race of people, forcing them into neighborhoods mired by poverty and crime and schools that were so underresourced that they doomed generations of kids from breaking out of socioeconomic stagnation.
And whereas Bridges, a 6-year-old, literally put her life in danger by trying to end this system that came out of centuries of racist policies, DeVos was simply trying to attend a public event, and her life was never in danger in the face of peaceful protests — and she reportedly managed to get into the school later on.
So to compare the two is simply ridiculous.