What we think of as the Left today is very different from what it was fifty years ago. We tend to forget that the Left back then, was the labor movement and that many union shops were not exclusively white and male. Indeed, it was the CIO, the UAW, and the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters that helped raised the living standards of African-Americans, and the rising expectations of blacks, that fostered the civil rights movement.
Granted, there was racism in some of the largest unions and resistance to accepting non-white members. Some of them may be among those most offended by the civil rights movement. But Labor’s historical role was depreciated by the New Left, the academics and professionals who came up through the anti-war movement and the latter phase of the civil rights movement, when it was considered “the right thing to do,” and most particularly the extension of the civil rights movement to all the other grievance groups who could not be said to have suffered the same sort of indignity as the Jim Crow laws imposed on blacks.
The New Left and the old Left were never able to make common cause. They hadn’t served together in the war, nor worked together on the factory floor, and then, during the Reagan years, when push came to shove for the labor unions, the New Left joined in the shove. The New Right has ably (and hypocritically) exploited that rift. Chickens coming home to roost is what is wrong with Kansas.