Where Was the Backlash Against Desegregation?
By Bryan Caplan
Many moderately pro-immigration thinkers, most notably Tyler, see the Open Borders movement as self-defeating. Why? Because excessive immigration provokes nativist backlash. In effect, there’s a policy Laffer Curve; when you ask for too much immigration, you get less immigration than if you ask for less.
As you may know, I regard immigration laws as morally comparable to Jim Crow laws. But I’m not going to ask, “Should the opponents of desegregation have moderated their demands?” That’s non-responsive to Tyler. Instead, I’m going to ask, “Where was the backlash against desegregation?” After all, segregationist laws were abolished in just a few short years, over the vociferous objection of most white Southerners. Auspicious circumstances for a backlash, no? And yet no serious movement to reinstate Jim Crow ever got off the ground.
I suppose you could call George Wallace a form of backlash. Or perhaps the partisan realignment of the South. But if you warned the proponents of desegregation, “Tread carefully! If you push too hard, there will be George Wallace and partisan realignment,” they wouldn’t have trembled. Nor should they have. If this is what qualifies as backlash, it is not a bang but a whimper.
Anything I’m missing?