People, in effect, said all of the right things to condemn this travesty while their actions suggested otherwise. Those who choose to believe the lie simply refer to the abundance of rhetoric that is agreeable to all and quite popular in contemporary and even in historical times as indicative of the fact that some fundamental change has occurred in the country due to the Civil Rights era. They also commonly refer to tokenism -- such as the fact that since the current president has African or African-American blood inside of him, racism is long gone in the country. Gesture of tokenism and empty rhetoric are far more preferable to the truth: that for many of 7 the nameless, voiceless denizens within the country that racism is still as large an issue as it ever was.
Another principle lie associated with the Civil Right movement is the notion that it was primarily non-violent in nature, and largely won by copious amounts of hand-holding, speech-making, and spraying people with water hoses. Gibson's narration shatters this myth quite well. He devotes a fair amount of it to explicating the acts of violence and destruction that occurred as a result of Marrow's slaying. He interviews some of the people who burned and looted throughout the town of Oxford, he details the thinly veiled threats of the Ku Klux Klan which responded, and, most importantly, he alludes to the fact that it was the former militant displays of destruction and violence that significantly changed, Oxford allowing for the degree of integration that it currently has. These acts of belligerence are not so different from those that accompanied many of the racial riots during 1976 and 1968, nor those that accompanied the verdict of Rodney King's initial trial. Yet these facts are seemingly exchanged for Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech ad nausum, and to the general largess of Caucasians who suddenly saw the error of their ways, passed a few laws, and ended the threat of racism altogether.
The ultimate cost of so many people in the U.S. preferring the lies regarding the Civil Rights movement to the truth of the nature and need for this movement is that instances of discrimination and racial violence can occur again. In fact, they do so all the time. Police brutality based on stereotyping and racism is a fact. Gibson's manuscript refers to this notion when he writes about the police presence that followed him around Oxford as he conducted his academic work, in attempts to intimidate him from conjuring images of the truth of the situation. And although police brutality is just one instance of the lack of Civil Rights afforded certain people (and those with certain intentions in the case of Gibson returning to Oxford), it can produce deadly results as the fairly recent murders of Bell and Mamadou Diallo indicate.
Moreover, the ultimate cost of people believing the lie of the conventional notion of Civil Rights is that there is a degree of lethargy, of apathy, among people today. The degree of organization and the militancy displayed by notable Civil Rights groups -- some planned such as the actions of the African-American Vietnam War veterans detailed in Gibson's manuscript and some less so such as those following spontaneous racial riots in the latter years of the 1960's -- is largely lacking from today's society. Although racial tolerance could certainly be increased, the tolerance for police subjugation and other forms of systemic racism as indicated by differences in healthcare and economic practices is exceedingly high among today's generation. The purposeful subduing of that generation, through the lies propagated regarding the Civil Rights movement, is the…