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June 06, 2012


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Blacks could have murdered them, although apparently thats not worth talking about.


To some degree I suppose it matters what Greene and Humes' motivation was. Suppose they honestly thought that the actions of the NAACP and King would fail to improve the lives of blacks in Mississippi and would likely make them worse. I don't think that would have necessarily been a _crazy_ belief at the time, since success wasn't sure and backlash was surely possible. If that had been their motivation, a different reaction might have been called for than if, say, Greene and Humes worried that changed situations would make their own circumstances less secure, but others mostly better off, or if they just were taking an opportunity for a fast buck, or were acting out of personal dislike for King and other leaders of the NAACP. In these cases, offering criticism (even quite harsh criticism) seems perfectly reasonable to me, and I'd think that encouraging boycotts of their paper and the like would also be reasonable.

As for "policing loyalty", I'd want to know first whether a duty of loyalty is owed. I don't think this duty must always be voluntarily taken on, but the type and degree of loyalty that's owed does depend heavily on the relationship that's at stake. If, unlikely thought it seems, Greene and Humes had simply thought King and his followers were mistaken about the best path forward for blacks in Mississippi, and so didn't support him and told others not to do so, I think it would be a mistake to consider this "disloyalty" in any way. (Consider the debate between W.E.B. DeBois, Marcus Garvey, and Booker T. Washington. I would think it would be a mistake for the followers of any of these to brand the others as disloyal.) This particular case, on the facts presented, seems rather different from a mere disagreement. Similarly, it was significant mistake in the run-up to the 2nd Gulf War for war supporters to band opponents as disloyal, "objectively pro-terrorist" and the other terms that were thrown around. There may be times when a sort of personal or absolute loyalty is owed, and so mere disagreement can be policed, but in the case of largely involuntary associations we need other standards, I'd think.

Anyway, these are hard and interesting questions that are worth taking seriously. I'm glad to see them put forward here.


No, it is not worth talking about. Murder is against the law.


For more on the "interesting questions" being "put forward" here, see this:


And also this:

Brando Simeo Starkey

Matt, interesting thoughts. What about Green and Humes working with a white supremacist organization? Might that be inherently wrong?


Hi Brando,
Yes, I'd (accidentally) skipped that part. Especially in this sort of circumstance, I'd think that working with the "citizens councils" or other white supremacist groups was clearly wrong, and would deserve condemnation, even if Humes and Green had had good motivation. There are, of course, sometimes cases where working w/ bad groups can be justified, but usually only to prevent disaster or cases of "necessity" of some sort. That doesn't at all seem plausible here, so even if Humes and Green had been honestly mistaken about the best path forward, I'd think that working w/ the white supremacist groups would be something deserving of condemnation, and might plausibly be a form of treachery- especially if the white supremacist groups would provide some sort of benefit for this bad behavior.

Brando Simeo Starkey

And regarding the "duty of loyalty" you contemplate Matt, in my project, I don't frame it as a duty to the group but rather a duty to something that all in the group should care about -- ridding society of anti-black racism.

Thus, Greene and Humes, by working with white supremacist organizations, proved that they were uncommitted to ridding society of anti-black racism. So I agree with Jackie Robinson when he wrote that Greene had “betrayed his race.”

I was unsure about Julius Henson, the vote suppressor, because it seemed like he was more about suppressing Democratic votes rather than suppressing black votes. I get the impression that he would have suppressed white Democrats too. Thus, while his behavior was obviously deserving of censure, he was anti-Democrat but not really anti-black.

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