Thursday, October 7, 2010

The First Culture War

I) Reaction to Mass Culture

A) Prohibition – outlawed the manufacture, and legal drinking; led to the flowering of organized crime. By outlawing what had been acceptable, it grouped this behavior with other behavior that was looked down upon as well (secular music, dance, homosexuality) that then became tolerated in this developing underground society—and then more laws were passed to outlaw this behavior.

B) Rise of Fundamentalist Religion – reaction to increased urbanization, increased social contact with Catholics and Jews in urban settings. White southerners moving north also contributed to this. Billy Sunday and Aimee Semple McPherson were two of be best-known names in this era.

C) Rebirth of the KKK – became particularly active in northern cities, like Youngstown, Ohio, where the Klan marched to celebrate the election of an endorsed candidate from mayor (the Klan had success in other political venues as well--much of the state government in Indiana was influenced by the Klan); Catholics and Jews became as much a target of intimidation in the North as African Americans during this time.

1. The Klan in the North--appealing to "100 Percent Americanism" that had a great deal of resonance during the war years, the Klan found a great deal of support in the urban North among white Protestants, many of whom felt that ethnics groups in the cities violated Prohibition with little fear of arrest or prosecution. In places like Youngstown  (pictured above, with the KKK rallying in the  streets in November 1923, celebrating the victory of their endorsed candidate), this argument had great appeal for white Protestants, who felt their control of the city slipping away.

a. 1923 Klan Rally in Toledo--planned, but never came off because after an appeal to the mayor by he newly appointed Bishop Samuel Stritch, the Klan was denied a parade permit.

D) The Movie Production Code--popularly known as the Hays Code, was in response to performances like this:

While much of the playful sexuality went over the heads of schoolchildren, it certainly titillated their parents--and outraged enough moralists to eventually forced the Fleischer cartoon studio to draw her in longer dresses

E) Scopes “Monkey Trial” – in Dayton, TN, ACLU convinced a teacher named John Scopes to violate recently passed creationist law; Clarence Darrow was the lawyer for the defense, and William Jennings Bryan was on prosecution team; Darrow called Bryan as an expert witness, and got him to admit to numerous embarrassing literal interpretations of the Bible—Bryan died soon afterward.

1. Promoting Dayton, TN--civic leaders in Dayton supported this effort, feeling that the attention the trial was sure to attract would promote the town, as well. Few expected a conviction, since Scopes was no more guilty of promoting the teaching of evolution than any other science teacher in Tennessee, since they all used the textbook mandated by the State of Tennessee ... which taught Darwin's Theory of Evolution

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