Wednesday, 19 March 2008

As Long As They Don't Move Next Door: Segregation and Racial Conflict in American Neighborhoods

by Stephen G. Meyer

"As long as they don't move next door." The title is inspired by Phil Ochs. Once considered a rival of Bob Dylan, Ochs wrote topical songs containing a mixture of satire and bile. Most of his venom was saved for the likes of Orval Faubus and Richard Nixon, but in "Love Me I'm a Liberal," he chides what he considered the hypocrisy of the typical liberal. In one verse, he castigates northern supporters of the civil rights movement who condemn Jim Crow and the racism of southern bigots but deny or dismiss the prejudice against blacks in the North. Given the discomforting accuracy of Ochs's observation, the song's lines, "I love Puerto Ricans and Negroes / As long as they don't move next door," hit an appropriate note of social criticism.

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