Loving was the woman who, with her husband, was tried in the 1960s for the crime of interracial marriage; their victory before the Supreme Court led to the striking down of laws banning racially mixed marriages across the country. Here’s part of her account:
Not long after our wedding, we were awakened in the middle of the night in our own bedroom by deputy sheriffs and actually arrested for the “crime” of marrying the wrong kind of person. Our marriage certificate was hanging on the wall above the bed. The state prosecuted Richard and me, and after we were found guilty, the judge declared: “Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.” He sentenced us to a year in prison, but offered to suspend the sentence if we left our home in Virginia for 25 years exile.
The judge’s comment is particularly interesting. He’s using an unholy mix of rank creationism and Blumenbach’s 19th century taxonomy of human races to justify his decision! For all the finger-pointing at science for promoting racism, though, it’s clear that most of the rationalizations have come from god-fearin’ church folk. Browse the racist web boards (here’s an example; it’s the evil Stormfront, so be warned), and you’ll find an amazing infatuation with biblical authority.
It’s worth noting that the same flavor of argument, thumping the bible to claim god is agin’ it and making up ‘facts’ about the natural world, is also the same strategy used to argue against homosexual marriage. I remember 1967 — that was the year I was grooving to Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and the Beatles — and it’s dismaying to think our country held onto the bigotry that denied people the right to love one another for so long, but it’s even more distressing to see that the same attitudes still prevail in 2008.