On Race And Growing Up Southern

The controversy over Confederate statues is something I have thought a lot about. Perhaps unlike many, my experience has allowed my position to change over the years.

I grew up in small town Georgia. I attended an elementary school that was predominantly black. I didn’t realize it at the time, but we were growing up in the shadow of the Jim Crow South. I was in elementary school in the 1970s, less than a decade after the full integration of Georgia public schools.  Lester Maddox (D-Ga.), the avowed segregationist governor, was not even a distant memory.

What’s more, my classmates and I were scarcely a decade and 20 miles away from the murder of Col. Lemuel Penn, a decorated hero of WWII who happened to be black. Penn was murdered by a trio of Ku Klux Klansmen for the crime of driving through Athens, Georgia in 1964. The murderers were acquitted by an all-white jury prompting the FBI to charge the men with civil rights violations under the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

I can only remember two brushes with the Klan. As a high school student, a classmate showed me a Ku Klux Klan ring one day. It was like a class ring, but instead of the school name, it was engraved with the words “Ku Klux Klan.”

In the other instance, I was a college student working part-time at a local pharmacy when Klan members appeared on the town square one day. The Klansmen, dressed in white robes with no hoods, tried to hand out leaflets to anyone who would take them. Even at that point, they were such an anachronism that everyone in the store took turns driving by to gawk at them. No one seemed to be taking leaflets.

The world had changed a lot in a short time. My classmates and I scarcely thought about race. We got along fine as kids generally do. In my youth, we were aware of race, but pushed it to the background. I remember my parents telling me that I should treat everyone with respect, but that the races should not mix sexually.

I would be willing to bet that they have evolved past the intermarriage taboo now. I know I have. I care more about the content of the character of my children’s future spouses than skin color. I would prefer they have an honorable and decent mate who is black, Hispanic or Asian than what is referred to as “white trash” in the South.

My experience taught me that children have to learn hatred. They don’t come to it naturally. A proud moment for me as a father was when my own children failed to even comprehend race as a descriptive characteristic. “Why does anybody care about skin color?” they asked.

For years, I subscribed to the notion that race relations were nothing to be concerned about. No living blacks were slaves and no living whites were slave owners. If that was the case, what was there to argue about?

As I learned about civil rights history and talked to my black friends, my opinion slowly changed.

My family has been in Georgia since the early 1800s. In an undated photo, my ancestors are standing outside their cabin with a black man who is almost certainly their slave.

Several of my ancestors were Confederate soldiers. My great-grandfather was captured at the Battle of Spotsylvania and spent the rest of the war in a (damn)Yankee prison camp in Elmira, N.Y. Today, Elmira is forgotten by history, but it was a brutal place in 1864.

The mortality rate among the prisoners was 25 percent, rivalling the notorious Confederate prison camp at Andersonville, Ga. But Georgia was subject to a federal naval blockade that meant that even Confederate soldiers didn’t have enough to eat. Supplies were plentiful in New York, but overcrowding, disease, inadequate protection from the New York winter and lack of food still killed thousands of prisoners. Many of those who survived were emaciated and unrecognizable when they returned home.

If I feel bitter about the treatment of my grandfather and his brothers-in-arms, none of which I never met, how much more bitter do blacks feel about slavery and Jim Crow? I can scarcely imagine.

While there are no living slaves today, Jim Crow is a recent memory. Older blacks experienced it personally. Younger blacks have heard first-hand accounts of whites-only water fountains and lunch counters, of the Freedom Riders, of lynchings, of the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham in which Klansmen killed four little girls, of the murders of Medgar Evers, Lemuel Penn, Martin Luther King and more.

While slavery and Jim Crow are distant history in my experience, they aren’t so far in the past for my black friends. Even black conservatives like Tim Scott (R-S.C.) have stories of prejudice and “driving while black” to tell. Racism is in retreat, Charlottesville notwithstanding, but it isn’t dead and never will be. Vestiges of racism will probably be around forever.

The world is full of longstanding ethnic problems. There is the black-white divide in America. We also have tension between Native Americans and European newcomers. In Texas, there are still hard feelings on both sides over the Alamo, Goliad, San Jacinto and the border clashes that occurred after Texas independence. In other countries, there are ethnic conflicts that have lasted for centuries between Jews and Arabs, Armenians and Turks, ethnic Russians and their subjugated countries, the Japanese, Chinese and Koreans…. The list goes on and on.

In most cases, people have dealt with these conflicts by dredging up old hurts and killing people because of it. Then the children of these victims take vengeance on the next generation of the other group in an endless cycle.

One way to avoid this vicious cycle is to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Would most whites hold a grudge if their parents and grandparents had been treated as second-class citizens and had to fear for their lives if they acted as normal human beings, as Emmett Till did? You bet they would.

Would blacks and non-Southerners feel protective about Confederate memorials if their ancestors had fought and died under the Confederate banner?  Many Confederates who did not own slaves simply fought to protect their homes from the federal invaders. Sherman burned everything in his path on his march to the sea and Union soldiers committed numerous atrocities on Southerners. In 1864, for example, Union forces forcibly deported 400 civilian women from Roswell, Ga. to the North. Most of these women never returned home.

The point is that both sides have legitimate grievances. If we persist in fighting over the status of biggest victim and inflicting revenge on the other side, then the dispute will continue to fester and grow.

The ultimate answer is forgiveness. The Bible that most of us, black and white, purport to believe teaches that forgiveness heals the victim as well as the perpetrator. The Bible also teaches that race is unimportant, that we are all equal – and equally sinful – at the foot of the cross.

As to Confederate statues, I prefer to keep them, but I understand the point of view of those who oppose them. To me, the issue of statues is unimportant compared to other issues we face such as the national debt, Islamic terror, and the fundamental decay of American society. To me, the disposition of statues of should be a local issue decided by the people of the community, not outsiders with an axe to grind.

Who was more right and who was more wrong is less important than that we now live together as Americans. That’s why it distresses me when my conservative friends take the bait so easily and quickly find themselves in the moral equivalence game between leftists and neo-Nazis who claim to be working toward the president’s agenda.

Solutions to many of the world’s problems would be possible if more people would attempt to understand the point of view of the opposing side. Before making up your mind on an issue, walk a mile in their shoes.

We Are Not Surprised A&E Would Air KKK Fakeumentary

Of course they faked it. Garden variety racists would never do. It had to be cross-burning, hood-wearing, over the top, movie KKK racists.

From a young age, liberals are taught that social change occurs when people’s hearts are tugged one way or another, through revulsion, or moving stories. Facts are incidental. Emotions are supreme, so there must be a narrative. Such as it is with A&E’s ill-fated KKK fakeumentary.

Variety broke the story. (How often does Variety break a national story with political overtones? Kudos are due here.)

Originally scheduled to air Jan. 10, “Escaping the KKK: A Documentary Series Exposing Hate in America” was produced by Venice, Calif.-based production company This Is Just a Test.

The KKK leaders who were interviewed by Variety detailed how they were wooed with promises the program would capture the truth about life in the organization; encouraged not to file taxes on cash payments for agreeing to participate in the filming; presented with pre-scripted fictional story scenarios; instructed what to say on camera; asked to misrepresent their actual identities, motivations and relationships with others, and re-enacted camera shoots repeatedly until the production team was satisfied.

The production team even paid for material and equipment to construct and burn wooden crosses and Nazi swastikas, according to multiple sources including Richard Nichols, who is one of the featured subjects of the documentary series as the Grand Dragon of a KKK cell known as the Tennessee White Knights of the Invisible Empire. He also said he was encouraged by a producer to use the epithet “nigger” in interviews.

January 10th–ten days before President-elect Donald Trump takes his oath of office. Nice timing. It would have been gasoline on the fires of liberal “racism” cries, which litter daily newspapers and liberal news outlets. Every single epithet, potential “hate crime” or “white supremacy” story gets front-page treatment, whether the facts check out or not.

It’s just a given that Trump supporters are racists. All 62,979,879 of them. Even if Clinton won in liberal California by 4,269,978 votes, but only carried the national popular vote by 2,865,075–that only proves that the Electoral College is rigged because California should really have 93 EV’s instead of 55.

Yes, every state outside of California is overrun by the KKK. It’s the only possible explanation.

Not only did A&E and the show’s producers stage the “documentary,” they lied about it.

This show is not rehearsed or prepackaged,” said Rob Sharenow, executive vice president and general manager of A&E and Lifetime told The Hollywood Reporter on Dec. 19. “These filmmakers knew that they weren’t going in making a reality show, they were making a hard-hitting series about a provocative subject.”

The purported quality of the program, originally known as “Generation KKK,” helped draw the support of organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League and Color of Change, which A&E publicized. But that didn’t keep “Generation KKK” from being accused on social media of providing a platform for a hate group. The network subsequently retitled the series, a decision Sharenow explained to Variety on Dec. 23 reflected its standing as a “pure documentary.”

They would have gone ahead and aired it, too, if they weren’t worried about the public learning that it was staged.

“A&E learned last night from the third-party producers who made the documentary that cash payments — which we currently understand to be nominal — were made in the field to some participants in order to facilitate access,” read a statement issued by the network.

The cancellation occurred less than 24 hours after this reporter contacted several producers at TIJAT with the allegations contained in this story. Those same producers, according to multiple KKK members who participated in the documentary, subsequently warned them not to speak to this reporter if contacted.

For shame.

This isn’t the first time liberal narratives have colored a documentary (and it won’t be the last). Back in May, Katie Couric and EPIX released “Under the Gun“–a gun-control supporter’s dream that was conveniently edited to support their narrative. WaPo media reporter Erik Wemple called them out for such brazen lies.

And of course, the corollary is that other narratives must be suppressed.

The “Gosnell Movie” was produced and filmed entirely through crowdfunding: $2.3 million raised on Indiegogo. But you won’t see A&E, or any other media group, air it. It’s basically untouchable.

Liberals will continue their virtue-signaling about “fake news” while they continue to pump out entire fake documentaries, and suppress the truth when it doesn’t fit their world view. It’s brazen intellectual dishonesty.

Serious kudos to Variety and reporter Nate Thayer (who is no fan of Trump, and no KKK apologist–just read his blog) for stopping this particularly awful show from dropping on Americans.

Segregation is so 2016. (Alternate Headline: The KKK Has Won.)

The KKK would be proud. Minority students at Berkeley (and elsewhere) have pro-actively separated from white students, even engaging in physical confrontation in order to force themselves away from whites.

The Federalist’s Bre Payton has the story:

One protestor complained there were too many white students in classrooms.

“When you walk into a class, what’s the majority in there?” one student angrily asked.

“I’m telling you, man, this is bigger than you,” a protestor told white student who was being blocked from passing by. “This is about ‘whiteness,’ this is not about you.”

Not all minorities were created equal (unequal?):

Many white and Asian students were forced to take a dirt path through brush in order to skirt the protestors as they chanted: “Go around! Go around!” The protestors then moved to the student store, where they began to chant “Students over profit!” apparently in objection to the fact the store makes money from the items they sell.

Fifty-two years after the Civil Rights Act became law, ending Jim Crow laws that forced blacks and whites to separate, a loud and apparently influential segment of today’s up-and-coming adult generation is forcing a throwback.

I cannot believe this incident and others like it represent a majority of black, Hispanic, and other college students in America. First, too many people have to recognize that these students have no grip on social reality. Second, I think we’d not see these sorts of loud and disruptive protests mostly limited to far-left colleges.

But it is time for college officials to halt these assaults upon decency, equality, social progress, and people. It’s growing too fast, and becoming too powerful.

A video of the Berkeley incident is making the rounds. It can be seen here and below:

David Duke, Trump’s Friendly Racist Parasite

Ever since Donald Trump was slow to denounce David Duke, former KKK grand wizard and Louisiana politician last February, the man has become a gadfly of sorts to the Trump campaign.

The problem isn’t what you’d typically see in a gadfly, where the fly annoys, criticizes and otherwise causes mayhem for the target. Sort of like Trump did to Jeb Bush. But Trump is immune to normal gadflies, at least they don’t seem to bother him. Duke, however is a friendly gadfly, a parasite feeding off Trump without any kind of symbiotic benefit for the host.

In a Robocall reported by Buzzfeed, Duke urges voters to “stand up and vote for Donald Trump for president and vote for me, David Duke for the U.S. Senate.”

“Hi, this is David Duke. I’m sorry I missed you. I’m running for U.S. Senate. I’ll tell the truth that no other candidate will dare say. Unless massive immigration is stopped now, we’ll be out numbered and outvoted in our own nation. It’s happening. We’re losing our gun rights, our free speech. We’re taxed to death. We’re losing our jobs and businesses to unfair trade. We’re losing our country. Look at the Super Bowl salute to the Black Panther cop killers. It’s time to stand up and vote for Donald Trump for president and vote for me David Duke for the U.S. Senate. I’d love to hear from you. To find out more contribute or volunteer for the DavidDuke.com. Go to Davidduke.com. Together, we’ll save America and save Louisiana. Paid for by the Duke campaign.”

Trump’s campaign has denounced the robocall. Spokeswoman Katrina Pierson called it “absolutely disturbing.”

But here’s the problem. The kinds of voters who would listen to a pitch by a former KKK grand wizard believe Trump really supports him, with a wink and a nod. So that kind of pitch is actually effective among the small segment of pig-eyed sacks of manure who yearn for the day when the white sheets can come out in public.

And the kinds of voters (everyone else) who find such a pitch to be repugnant also believe that Trump must be okay with Duke using his name, and the denouncement is just a wink and a nod.

We call this, in highly political science-y terms, “crying wolf.”

A politician can’t make certain statements about Mexicans and American judges of Mexican heritage, retweet racist trope from the dungeons of the alt-right, including in-your-face anti-Semitism and fascist quotes from Mussolini, and then later claim to “disavow David Duke,” who runs with all the same fellow travelers to whom he previously pandered. Only Donald Trump thinks he can do this and get away with it.

Because “magical thinking.” Just like the polls are skewed, the election is rigged, and the “silent majority” will rise up. David Duke has more chance of winning retiring David Vitter’s Louisiana seat in the U.S. Senate than Trump has of winning the White House.

Which is to say, no chance.