An important tenet of Southern bigotry has always been the belief that the "Negro problem" rather than being restricted to the South, follows the Negro where-ever he goes. It is, in the opinion of the segregationist a problem of the race and not the region. The movement recently inaugurated by the White Citizens Council of New Orleans financing one way trips North for dissatisfied Negroes, is a dramatic demonstration of such blindness. Perhaps only the most naive of these White Citizens really believe that the civil rights dilemma in the South can finally be solved by eliminating the area's Negro populace. But, judging at least from the official verbiage and innuendo, these Southerners have decided to show that if there were as many Negroes in the North as there are in the South, "the damn Yankees wouldn't like them either."
Such motives reflect the persisting segregationist attitude that Negroes are not only unequal to caucasians, but are germs which breed trouble wherever they happen to be as well. In a very real sense, these Southerners are trying to do more than solve the Negro problem by elimination: within their own frame of reference they are attempting to wage biological warfare on the North.
But unsavory motives are not the only disturbing elements of their plan. Already, it is creating difficult problems for the civil rights movement in the North. The spectacle of Urban League officials, politicians, and other groups, welcoming voluntarily-deported Southern Negroes while thousands of jobless, poorly-housed Northern Negroes look helplessly on, is distressing. Because these newcomers have accepted designation as transportable commodities in exchange for immediate material relief, they represent surrender to the segregationist viewpoint as well as economic competition for the Northern Negro.
In the South, the defection of these Negroes lowers the morale of those remaining. Although it is true that the leaders of the civil rights movement in the South are from higher classes than those Negroes the Citizens Council is shipping northward, they depend on solid Negro support from all classes for successful mass movements such as the bus boycotts. And, unlike the thousands of Negroes who weekly stream into the large Northern cities, these reverse freedom riders do so as symbols of a perverted solution to problems which will continue to bother them for the rest of their lives. The Negroes who stay home to face the issue in hopes of finally solving it, can only view with disgust this new development.
Although concern for national appearances may sound somewhat callous in light of the more obvious moral shortcomings of the segregationists' plan, it is still hard to ignore the effect that publicity of this development will have abroad. Eventually, however, the Southern Whites will suffer most from this new extremist brainstorm. They are postponing any kind of real solution to problems that will become more and more severe and which they will finally have to face squarely.
It is by all means true--as the apologists for this cruelly ironic version of the underground railroad so often stress--that some good is derived from the White Citizens Council's efforts. But this good amounts to merely temporary charity for a numerically insignificant group.
In the long run the moral damage which is done to the Negro who remains in the South and the very real determent to the Negro in the North make these momentary advantages absurd.