Friday, July 23, 2010

Race being used to smear Obama

Eugene Robinson is a columnist for the Washington Post

Eugene Robinson’s e-mail address is

WASHINGTON — After the Shirley Sherrod episode, there’s no longer any need to mince words: A cynical right-wing propaganda machine is peddling the poisonous fiction that when African-Americans or other minorities reach positions of power, they seek some kind of revenge against whites.
A few of the purveyors of this bigoted nonsense might actually believe it. Most of them, however, are merely seeking political gain by inviting white voters to question the motives and good faith of the nation’s first African-American president. This is really about tearing Barack Obama down.
Sherrod, until Monday an official with the Department of Agriculture, was supposed to be mere collateral damage. Andrew Breitbart, a smarmy provocateur who often speaks at tea party rallies, posted on his Web site a video snippet of a speech that Sherrod, who is African-American, gave to a NAACP meeting earlier this year. In it, Sherrod seemed to boast of having withheld from a white farmer some measure of aid that she would have given to a black farmer.
It looked like a clear case of black racism in action. Within hours, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack had forced her to resign. The NAACP, under attack from the right for having denounced racism in the tea party movement, issued a statement blasting Sherrod and condemning her attitude as unacceptable.
But Breitbart had overstepped. The full video of Sherrod’s speech showed she wasn’t bragging about being a racist, she was telling what amounted to a parable about prejudice and reconciliation. For one thing, the incident happened in 1986 when she was working for a nonprofit, long before she joined the Obama administration. For another, she helped that white man and his family save their farm, and they became friends. Through him, she said, she learned to look past race toward our common humanity.
In effect, she was telling the story of America’s struggle with race, but with the roles reversed. For hundreds of years, black people were enslaved, oppressed and discriminated against by whites — until the civil rights movement gave us all a path toward redemption.
With the Obama presidency, though, has come a flurry of charges — from the likes of Breitbart but also from more substantial conservative figures — about alleged incidences of racial discrimination against whites by blacks and other minorities. Recall, for example, the way Obama’s critics had a fit when he offered an opinion about the confrontation between Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. and a white police officer. Remember the over-the-top reaction when it was learned that Justice Sonia Sotomayor had once talked about how being a “wise Latina” might affect her thinking.
Newt Gingrich called Sotomayor a racist. He was lightning-quick to call Sherrod a racist, too. I’d suggest that the former House speaker consider switching to decaf, but I think he knows exactly what he’s doing.
These allegations of anti-white racism are being deliberately hyped and exaggerated because they are designed to make whites fearful. It won’t work with most people, of course, but it works with some — enough, perhaps, to help erode Obama’s political standing and damage his party’s prospects at the polls.
Before Sherrod, the cause celebre of the “You Must Fear Obama” campaign involved something called the New Black Panther Party. Never heard of it? That’s because it’s a tiny group that exists mainly in the fevered imaginations of its few members. Also in the alternate reality of Fox News: One of the network’s hosts has devoted more than three hours of air time in recent weeks to the grave threat posed by the NBPP. Actually, I suspect that this excess is at least partly an attempt by a relatively obscure anchor to boost her own notoriety.
The Sherrod case has fully exposed the right-wing campaign to use racial fear to destroy Obama’s presidency, and I hope the effect is to finally stiffen some spines in the administration.
The way to deal with bullies is to confront them, not run away. Yet Sherrod was fired before even being allowed to tell her side of the story. She said the official who carried out the execution explained that she had to resign immediately because the story was going to be on Glenn Beck’s show that evening. Ironically, Beck was the only Fox host who, upon hearing the rest of Sherrod’s speech, promptly called for her to be reinstated. On Wednesday, Vilsack offered to rehire her.
Shirley Sherrod stuck to her principles and stood her ground. I hope the White House learns a lesson.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Go, Douglass Alums! (and to Calvin, son and grandson of former alums


Great pictures of your annual even to keep "Douglass" alive! What anyone who reads our website on a consistent basis can see is the leadership developed by the Douglass High School Faculty and Staff. Only leadership can make this happen annually.

Rosemary Gray

55 Years ago !!

That's only 55 years ago!

Comments made in the
year 1955!

'I'll tell you one thing, if things
keep going the way they are,
it's going to be impossible to
buy a week's groceries for $10.00.


'Have you seen the new cars
coming out next year? It won't
be long before $1, 000.00 will
only buy a used one.


'If cigarettes keep going up in
price, I'm going to quit. 20 cents
a pack is ridiculous.


'Did you hear the post office is
thinking about charging 7 cents
just to mail a letter


'If they raise the minimum wage
to $1.00, nobody will be able to
hire outside help at the store.


'When I first started driving, who
would have thought gas would
someday cost 25 cents a gallon.
Guess we'd be better off leaving
the car in the garage.


'I'm afraid to send my kids to the
movies any more Ever since they
let Clark Gable get by with saying
it seems every new movie has
either HELL or DAMN in it.


'I read the other day where some
scientist thinks it's possible to put
a man on the moon by the end of
the century. They even have some
fellows they call astronauts
preparing for it down in Texas.


'Did you see where some baseball
player just signed a contract for
$50,000 a year just to play ball?
It wouldn't surprise me if someday
they'll be making more than the


'I never thought I'd see the day
all our kitchen appliances would
be electric. They are even making
electric typewriters now.


'It's too bad things are so tough
nowadays. I see where a few
married women are having to
work to make ends meet.


'It won't be long before young
couples are going to have to hire
someone to watch their kids so
they can both work.


'I'm afraid the Volkswagen car
is going to open the door to a
whole lot of foreign business.


'Thank goodness I won't live to
see the day when the Government
takes half our income in taxes. I
sometimes wonder if we are
electing the best people to


'The drive-in restaurant is
convenient in nice weather,
but I seriously doubt they
will ever catch on.


'There is no sense going on short
trips anymore for a weekend, it
costs nearly $2.00 a night to stay
in a hotel.


'No one can afford to be sick
anymore, at $15.00 a day in
the hospital, it's too rich for
my blood.'


'If they think I'll pay 30 cents
for a hair cut, forget it.'


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Give Obama a break until 2012

Clinton grew the economy and had an affair that should have been between him and his wife. We stuck our nose in that. Then Bush started two wars and gave a tax break to the very rich and there was total silence — not a peep. Then come Obama. Auto jobs were in danger; we were headed for a recession and he is trying to dig us out of a hole that is just too deep, and the Republicans and tea party members and birthers are doing everything to defeat him with some help from people who are in the dark about everything, including the Confederate flag. I am so sick of hearing Obama in every newscast, every editorial and most Tennesseans you talk to who happened to vote for him. Please let him rest and wait until 2012 and then voice your opinion.
Cecilia Henderson

Friday, July 16, 2010

From Ben Jealous, NAACP President


The NAACP is under attack.

This week, we called out the bigoted acts of certain Tea Party members for what they are: racist.

The response was shocking. Our opponents have turned the claim around on us -- calling the NAACP divisive.

If you know anything about the NAACP, you know that there is no need to validate their accusation with a response. We have seen their signs. We have heard their slurs.

All we are asking for is your support. Please sign the pledge and ask the Tea Party to repudiate bigotry among their members:

History has shown what can happen when organizations fail to condemn racism within their ranks. So our opponents' out-of-context sound bites and gross distortion of history do not threaten us, because the NAACP has unwavering faith in what is right.

We have unwavering faith in our mission. We have unwavering faith in the American democracy. And most importantly, we have unwavering faith in you.

What we do not believe in is hatred, ignorance and malice. With your help we can stop it. Tell the Tea Party that you do not support racism:

Thanks for your help,

Ben Jealous
President and CEO

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Letter was filled with misinformation

Lena Rogers’ letter was right out of Frederick Wright’s handbook of racism. The only truth in her message of misinformation is “slavery was wrong.”
In the 1830 U.S. Census in Virginia, my home state, there were 3,775 free blacks. Those free blacks owned a “few” black slaves — 12,740 according to census records. Many years earlier, the first slave of record to enter Virginia was named John Casor. His owner was a man named Anthony Johnson of Northampton, Va. He was and still is known as the father of American slavery.
I read a newspaper account from 1864 of a regiment of Richmond blacks, free and slave, who volunteered to fight for the Confederacy. They were shown marching out of Richmond with the Stars and Bars flying in front of them.
I served as an airman in World War II. Probably the best known fighter group was a group of blacks known as Tuskeegee Airmen. Part of their mission was to escort bomber groups to their targets. Most missions lost two or more bombers due to ground fire or enemy fighters. No bombers were lost when those black heroes escorted a bomb group. I’m talking about every group they escorted.
Bernie Kerrick

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Get over it and leave it alone

Re. the Confederate flag flying at South ball games and lady that wrote about South Carolina seceding from the union, the first Confederate flag was called the stars and bars. It had three stripes, two red and one white, and a square of blue with seven stars in a circle. The Confederate flag is not offensive. It’s people that make things offensive. If you get rid of the flag at Sullivan South then we must get rid of the Indian flags that fly at Dobyns-Bennett because people might find that offensive as well. I have some Cherokee in my blood as well as eight relatives that fought in the Civil War — seven with the north and one with the south. Get over it and leave it alone. It is a right as an American citizen to fly that flag or any flag for that matter until we start doing something to these people that desecrate the U.S. flag by burning it and stepping on it. Life is too short to argue over a school waving a flag supporting their team. We have more important problems as a nation to worry about.

Edward Amyx

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

South should end displays of the Confederate flag at school functions

Debbie Arrington lives in Kingsport and has earned degrees in history and accounting. You can email her at

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
This is the oath that Abraham Lincoln took in 1861 at a moment when our nation was rapidly disintegrating. He considered this to be a vow that he as President would use every tool at his disposal to protect the Union from external and internal threats. I have no doubt that George Bush and Barack Obama who took the same oath would agree with Lincoln. This is a “presidential thing” and transcends political ideology. On a very small scale, President George Washington demonstrated during what’s known as the Whiskey Rebellion that the U.S. government would suppress violent insurrections against federal authority by force if necessary. There still isn’t anything in the U.S. Constitution that prohibits a state from seceding from our republic. But as a practical matter, that was settled in 1865.
I, like most Southerners, deeply respect General Robert E. Lee, his generals and the Confederate soldiers who suffered and died doing what they believed to be their duty. But it still confounds me that many of the leaders of the Confederacy were so willing to dissolve the Republic that their own fathers and grandfathers had risked death by hanging to create. Four signers of the Declaration of Independence were from South Carolina. Monarchists in many European countries gloated at the prospect of the demise of our noble and, to them, liberal experiment in self government.
The seven states which originally seceded from the Union did so in order to preserve a feudal economic system based on slave labor that basically benefited only a small, elite aristocracy. Four days after a group of South Carolina leaders hastily made the decision that their state would leave the Union before cooler heads could prevail, the state government issued a legal proclamation known as the “Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union.” This document explicitly revealed that slavery was the chief issue involved in South Carolina’s decision to secede. Georgia, Mississippi, and Texas issued similar proclamations. Although I had earned a history degree, I’d never heard of these declarations until I ran across a copy displayed at the Edmondston-Alston museum house located in Charleston. General Beauregard had watched the bombing of Fort Sumter from the second floor piazza of this home. My view of the Civil War was never quite the same after I stood reading this astounding declaration in that elegant antebellum mansion.
These hotheaded, privileged southerners put the process in motion that would result in the deaths of close to 620,000 Americans. Federal troops would be stationed over parts of the South until 1877. Former Confederates who wished to hold elected office at any level were required to take a retroactive oath of loyalty to the Union. Poverty was rampant in the South until 1945. Robert E. Lee, despite the assistance of Ulysses S. Grant and others, died without regaining his American citizenship. Congress finally voted to restore full rights of citizenship posthumously to General Lee in 1975 and to Confederate President Jefferson Davis in 1978. These resolutions were signed by Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter respect i v e l y.
Most southern states didn’t celebrate the anniversary of the founding of our nation for years after the Civil War. Per the online Fourth of July Celebrations database created by James R. Heintze, the Nashville Banner newspaper published an editorial in 1866 urging citizens not to celebrate the Fourth. On July 4, 1890, a group of 2000 Confederate veterans marched in a parade in Chattanooga. And they didn’t carry Confederate flags.
I can’t help but notice with satisfaction that the Civil War is becoming largely irrelevant to most Americans other than to academics or armchair historians. But for whatever reason, we still have some southerners, especially in South Carolina, who want to keep the memory of the Civil War in the forefront of our nation’s popular culture. They display the Confederate battle flag at every opportunity to “honor their history” even though the British Union Jack flew over the Palmetto State for nearly a hundred years. I think the famed Unionist attorney James Petigru’s comment regarding his state is still rather appropriate: “South Carolina is too small for a republic and too large for an insane asylum.”
Most Confederate soldiers were by all accounts brave and ferocious fighters. Those are admirable traits and coveted compliments to receive from one’s opponent. But even so, I hope that the administrators at Sullivan South High School end all displays of the Confederate battle flag at school functions. There were news reports that a school or two in our region had informed Sullivan South that its students weren’t welcome if they brought this flag with them. The people who adopted this policy aren’t a bunch of big city liberals. They’re just mainstream, twenty-first century East Tennesseans who’d like to leave the “War of Northern Aggression” and its intense emotions in the past.
When South High School kids display those flags to strangers, they’re often viewed as young people with a chip on their shoulder; people who take pleasure in offending others for no good reason. Most teenagers want to be accepted and respected by other teens. It’s not fair to set those kids up for appearing antisocial or worse to outsiders. Give them a chance to make a good first impression. Because a bad first impression can be difficult if not impossible to overcome.