Monday, June 19, 2023

The absurdity of arguing that someone was “just a man of his time"

Among the papers of Mark Hatfield, Governor of Oregon (1959-1967) and then a Senator (1967-1997), historian Seth Cotlar recently found letters from right-wing constituents about Hatfield's participation in a 1961 event in Portland with Martin Luther King, Jr. These letters used talking points provided by neo-Nazi Walter Huss. But Cotlar also comments on a compelling pro-King letter from a white school janitor from Eugene, Ezra C. Baker: "So we’ll have none of this 'Walter Huss was just a man of his time' nonsense, because Mr. Baker was also 'a man of his time' [...]." The "man of his time" argument is always undermined by contemporaries who were critical of such men. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 19 June 2023)


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