Sunday, February 2, 2014
Rose Wilder Lane and the Pittsburgh Courier: Selling Laissez-faire Antiracism to the Black Masses
During World War II, Rose Wilder Lane had one of the most remarkable, but little studied, phases of her career. From 1942 to 1945, she wrote a weekly column for The Pittsburgh Courier, the most widely read American black newspaper. Rather than hiding or trimming her laissez faire views, she seized the chance to sell them to the readership. She sought out topics of special interests of her audience.
Her first entry glowingly characterized the Double V Campaign as part of the more general fight for individual liberty in American history. "Here, at last, is a place where I belong," she wrote of her new job. "Here are the Americans who know the value of equality and freedom." Her columns highlighted black success stories to illustrate broader themes about entrepreneurship, freedom, and creativity. In one, she compared the accomplishments of Robert Vann and Henry Ford. Vann's rags to riches story illustrated the benefits in a "capitalist society in which a penniless orphan, one of a despised minority can create The Pittsburgh Courier and publicly, vigorously, safely, attack a majority opinion" while Ford's showed how a poor mechanic can create "hundreds of jobs ... putting even beggars into cars."
She combined advocacy of laissez faire and antiracism. The views she expressed on race were strikingly similar to those of Zora Neale Hurston, a fellow individualist and writer who was black. Lane's columns emphasized the arbitrariness of racial categories and stressed the centrality of the individual. Instead of indulging in the "ridiculous, idiotic and tragic fallacy of 'race,' [by] which a minority of the earth's population has deluded itself during the past century", it was time for all Americans (black and white) to "renounce their race". Judging by skin color was comparable to the Communists who assigned guilt or virtue on the basis of class. In her view, the fallacies of race and class hearkened to the "old English-feudal 'class' distinction." The collectivists, including the New Dealers, were to blame for filling "young minds with fantasies of 'races' and 'classes' and 'the masses,' all controlled by pagan gods, named Economic Determinism or Society or Government.
Read: Selling Laissez-faire Antiracism to the Black Masses Rose Wilder Lane and the Pittsburgh Courier http://www.independent.org/pdf/tir/tir_15_02_07_beito.pdf
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