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Alice Paul, Ron Paul, Paul Lynde

January 11, 2008, 5:05 pm

So, I set out a little while ago to write a post about Alice Paul (hagiography here and here), the suffragist who helped found the National Women’s Party. Because she was born on this day in 1885. And also: I was getting a bit worried about the hyper-masculine tone of the blog — and the blogosphere generally — what with Eric threatening to cut people. (He’ll do it. Do NOT cross him.)

Anyway, I was going to write something nice. I was going to talk about Paul’s extraordinary courage, about her complex interactions with Carrie Chapman Catt, and about her total commitment to her cause. But it turns out that Alice Paul didn’t like Negroes African-Americans. Or Jews. And it’s kind of hard to write nice things about racists. Or anti-Semites. Even if they did incredibly important and laudatory things. Which she did.

And I know, I know. There’s an argument to be made that she had to placate white women in order to ensure that the 19th Amendment would be ratified by Southern states. But I’m not going to make that argument. Even if it might be true — at least in part. Why not? Because this isn’t that kind of blog. We’re militant. Plus, she really didn’t much like African-Americans. Or Jews. This kind of thing happens all too often: heroes don’t usually withstand close scrutiny unblemished. The past is complex. And simple narratives only exist in the realm of myth.

Still, given recent events, I can’t help but wonder: is there something about the surname Paul? Then there’s this: Paul Lynde’s pre-Hollywood Squares work is totally underrated. Discuss. Have a wonderful weekend, everyone.

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