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The Cost of Compromises

The element of the videos that we watched for Thursday’s class that left the greatest impression on me was the fact that in order to consolidate power and gain for followers, leaders of the women’s suffrage movement published horribly racist sentiments. Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony were desperate to gain support from wealthy southern women in order to forward the women’s suffrage movement. In order to gain support from this audience, though, they wrote truly heinous things against African Americans. While this tactic proved to be effective in bringing more women together in the fight for the vote, was this sacrifice really worth it? It’s hard to say, given that the Nineteenth Amendment was eventually passed by Congress and women were granted the right to vote in America. The question is that would women have won the right to vote had these feminist leaders not resorted to racist sentiment in order to gain followers?

Since Stanton and Anthony have been immortalized in American history due to their efforts in the name of women’s rights, their words will live on forever. The fact that such racist sentiments are attached to their names leaves a deep scar on their legacies, in my opinion. How are we supposed to support a cause for equality between the sexes when they don’t support equality between races? The compromises that people make for the sake of their causes can seriously alter the way in which history views their story.

These ideas are still very relevant today. Donald Trump is constantly called xenophobic, homophobic, and racist by countless people and media outlets. These accusations do have some foundations, as the language that he uses in speeches, rallies, and tweets indicates that. However, there is no way for us to truly know what Trump’s real thoughts and feeling are on minorities in this country. While there is no way for us to certainly know if he believes that white people are a superior race, we do know that these campaign tactics were very effective in the 2016 election. Trump tapped into some of the darkest sentiments that exist in this country, and was able to harness those sentiments into votes in his favor. Again, a political figure used questionable tactics to further their cause.

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  1. Emma Joaquin Emma Joaquin

    I was very interested by your point about one group fighting for certain rights might put down another group to promote their own cause. Although in some cases like you described this can be an effective tactic in the short run, I think in the long run many of these groups would be better helped by supporting each others causes. Many of these groups have the same fundamental ideas involving human rights behind what their motives and goals, and supporting one another could prove to be more useful for their long-term goals.

  2. Nora Apt Nora Apt

    I was very surprised to learn that Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony published racist sentiments in order to attract wealthy southern women to their movement. This tactic seems to conflict with their campaign’s overall mission: equality. In order to achieve their own goals, they were willing to put down another group also striving for equal rights. Moreover, I think it’s worth considering the lack of attention these racist sentiments receive. While the Nineteenth Amendment was ultimately passed, I think it is still worth discussing the ramifications of racist sentiments used for a group’s personal gain. I agree with you that this is still a prevalent issue that needs to be addressed today.

  3. Michael Paul Michael Paul

    The distinction between helping one group at the expense of another is a difficult line to draw. It’s the idea of taking one step forward and another back, but I think it still leads in the right direction. People are usually not open to radical change, so in my view, any positive change is beneficial and can lead to even better future outcomes given time. But you’re right in that it is hard to support change that doesn’t always help immediately or that goes against personal values.

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