One of my students, in a paper entitled “The North won the war, but the South won the peace” wrote, “In 1866, a group of white southerners, who were upset about losing the Civil War and the direction of Recon- struction, decided to create a group of visual antis that would use violence to ensure white supremacy.”
It took me a moment. It didn’t hit me right away. My pencil circled the pair of words, “visual antis,” and then it struck me. Wow. Pretty amazing how some people learn and how some people hear, eh?
I don’t know about you, but I think the costumes of the KKK were definitely a manifestation of being “visual antis” to the movement of civil rights for newly freed African-Americans during Reconstruction. And they manifested their being “visual antis” in lots of other ways too. Hmm… not a bad creative word transformation.
I should have some sympathy for this student. After all, the word “vigilante” IS an unusual English word. In fact, it is spanish for “watchman” and was first used in the 19th century american “frontier” to describe groups of people who selected themselves as law enforcement, where there wasn’t any law and not much enforcement.
I love my job.