There's a really fascinating conversation going on at Ta-Nehisi's place about morality vs. self-interest and people's motivations. It's a debate that's sprung up in the wake of the passing of Proposition 8. Really, go read it (And comment if you want!). I did want to highlight one part of the argument (that I somewhat disagree with) because I think it ties into some issues about theatre that we discuss on this blog from time to time.
I don't think people really do things--en mass and maybe even individually--that isn't in their interest. I don't believe whites began supporting Civil Rights in the 60s strictly out of an attack of moral conscience--they were notinterested in being a member of a community which sanctioned the fire-hosing of children. It's clear that Jim Crow and segregation worked to the immediate advantage of some white people, but I've never believed that it worked to the long-term advantage of most white people. The price of international embarrassment, of essentially shrinking the middle-class, of destroying valuable brain-power, of sowing resentment amongst a substantial minority of the populace, of creating ghettos is high.