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home : opinion : opinion November 20, 2017

8/30/2017 7:48:00 AM
History, Heritage And Hate
The water fountain on the west side of the Lincoln County Courthouse is underneath (and a part of) a Confederate Memorial.(Lincoln Herald Staff Photos)
The water fountain on the west
side of the Lincoln County Courthouse
is underneath (and a part of)
a Confederate Memorial.

(Lincoln Herald Staff Photos)

(2nd photo) The flag of the Confederacy flies next to the American flag on the UDC Hall, East Pine at Academy Street in Lincolnton.(3rd photo) The statue of a Confederate soldier stands atop an obelisk in front of the Gaston County Courthouse.
(2nd photo) The flag of the Confederacy
flies next to the American flag on the
UDC Hall, East Pine at Academy
Street in Lincolnton.

(3rd photo) The statue of a Confederate
soldier stands atop an obelisk in front
of the Gaston County Courthouse.

Wayne Howard
Staff Writer

I received the following in an email recently. For some, it might appear that the sender is a person on the far-right who is filled with hatred. Some would likely say he belongs in the KKK or a neo-Nazi group. 

Let me begin by saying that I have known the person who forwarded this email to me for many years. He is a good family man; he took care of an ailing wife for a long time until she passed. He considers himself a devout Christian and he is kind and gentle with other people. He raised his sons well. They are all productive members of society, also what I would consider "good people." If I told his name, most would know him and at least one of his sons instantly and probably have a high opinion of both.  

Here's the email he sent me:

There are many that believe that  Trump is alone in his policies towards certain Muslims and that he is a racist. Wake up America.

See what is being done in many other countries as a result of Muslim teachings by radical extremists and uncivilized behavior by (supposedly) refugees.

It has finally started--Crusades as predicted!

The first countries to ban Islam:

See how the world is acting fast on the threat posed by Islam and its barbaric Sharia Law.

Japan has always refused Muslims to live permanently in their country and they cannot own any real estate or any type of business, and have banned any worship of Islam. Any Muslim tourist caught spreading Islam will be deported immediately, including all family members.

Cuba rejects plans for first mosque.

The African nation of Angola and several other nations have officially banned Islam.

Record number of Muslims, (over 2,000) deported from Norway as a way of fighting crime. Since these Muslim criminals have been deported, crime has dropped by a staggering 72%. Prison Officials are reporting that nearly half of their jail cells are now vacant; courtrooms nearly empty; police now free to attend to other matters, mainly traffic offenses to keep their roads and highways safe and assisting the public in as many ways as they can.

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In Germany alone in the last year there were 81 violent attacks targeting mosques.

Austrian police arrested 13 men targeting suspected jihad recruiters.

A Chinese court sent 22 Muslim imams to jail for 16 to 20 years for spreading Islam hatred, and have executed eighteen jihadists; China campaigns against separatism (disallowing Islamists to have their own separate state). Muslim prayers have been banned in government buildings and schools in Xinjiang (Western China). Hundreds of Muslim families prepared to leave China for their own safety and return back to their own Middle Eastern countries.

Muslim refugees beginning to realize that they are not welcome in Christian countries because of their violent ways and the continuing wars in Syria and Iraq whipped up by the hideous IS who are murdering young children and using mothers and daughters as sex slaves.

British Home Secretary prepares to introduce 'Anti-social Behavior Order' for extremists and strip dual nationals of their citizenship. Deportation laws also being prepared.

The Czech Republic blatantly refuses Islam in their country, regarding it as evil.

Alabama - A new controversial amendment that will ban the recognition of "foreign laws which would include Sharia law."

The Polish Defense League issues a warning to Muslims.

16 states have all introduced legislation to ban Sharia Law.

Many Muslims in Northern Ireland have announced plans to leave the country to avoid anti-Islamic violence by Irish locals. The announcement comes after an attack on groups of Muslims in the city of Belfast where groups of Irish locals went berserk and bashed teenage Muslim gangs who were referring to young Irish girls as sluts and should all be gang raped, according to Islam and Sharia Law. Even hospital staff were reluctant to treat the battered Muslim patients, the majority were given the Band-Aid treatment and sent home with staff muttering "good riddance."

North Carolina bans Islamic "Sharia Law" in the state, regarding it now as a criminal offense.

Dutch MPs call for removal of all mosques in the Netherlands. One member of the Dutch Parliament said: "We want to clean the Netherlands of Islam." Dutch MP Machiel De Graaf spoke on behalf of the Party for Freedom when he said, "All mosques in the Netherlands should be shutdown. Without Islam, the Netherlands would be a wonderful safe country to live in, as it was before the arrival of Muslim refugees."

Please share this e-mail with your family and friends if you agree.  And please remember, the leftists in our nation will use every ruse imaginable to destroy Christianity, allow Muslims - radicals or otherwise - to come here, live here, create their own Islamic neighborhoods, (Dearborn, MI), establish Sharia Law, eliminate our Constitution and remake us into a Region in the one-world government - ruled by Leftist UN Radicals.

If you lack patriotism towards your beloved Christian country, and lack guts then simply click on delete.

I'm more than happy to forward this on - maybe I'm more of a realist than a racist.

Much of what was in this email is easily refuted, of course. The part about Norway is an exaggeration of an untruth. Muslims are not banned from Japan and much of what was said in this email about Japan is totally false.

If you like, you can confirm that at these sites:

It is certainly true that Muslims face severe discrimination in parts of China and Myanmar. One might reasonably wonder if the writer of the email thinks violence against people because of their religion should be acceptable (or even encouraged) here.  

As I said, the person who forwarded this email to me is not some crazy member of the KKK or a Nazi.  He is a member of the Tea Party.

On a somewhat related note, my neighbors are some of the nicest people I know. They mow my grass; before one of their trucks had a problem, they took off my garbage; they'd do anything they could to help this old man.  

It is also true that they think Hillary Clinton is the devil personified, and they had a very similar opinion of Barack Obama. They voted for Donald Trump and still think it was the right decision.  

They are in the gun business; they make and repair guns including high-powered weapons. They are adamantly opposed to legislation that would in any way limit ownership of guns.  

They would never do anything violent; they won't go shooting up schools, etc.  They think those people who do such things should be punished; but they do not see limiting gun purchases or ownership as a solution to that problem.

By now surely everyone is somewhat familiar with the efforts to remove Confederate statues and other symbols from government properties and in some cases other public facilities.

On the one side, you have those who say it's a matter of rewriting history--of taking away their heritage.  On the other, you have those who say those statues and symbols had the intent from their placement of intimidating people of color.  

At a recent Gaston County Commissioners meeting, a group of mostly blacks asked the Commissioners to remove the statue of a Confederate soldier from in front of the Gaston County Courthouse. It was moved there from in front of the old courthouse on South Street when the new one was built on what was then called Marietta Street.  It has since been renamed Martin Luther King, Jr. Way.

One man, a barber, said he remembered the statue when it stood on the ground in front of the old courthouse and greeted people arriving there eye to eye.  The statue was placed there in the early 20th Century like many of the other statues honoring Confederate heroes and many say they were erected for the purpose of intimidating blacks during the so-called Jim Crow era when laws were passed to guarantee segregation and subjugate minorities.  

Also present at that Commissioners meeting were a group of whites, several of them dressed in clothing that bore a Confederate battle flag, some of them members of the SCV (Sons of Confederate Veterans) who said the statue was a part of their heritage and should not be removed. At one point during the public comments on the subject, they walked out of the meeting as a group.

On the day that a group of local ministers gathered to walk around the Courtsquare, sing songs, kneel and pray in the wake of the Charlottesville, Virginia incident in which white nationalists, KKK members, neo-Nazis, etc. and counter protesters clashed leaving one woman dead after being run over with a car, I took some photos of the Confederate Memorial water fountain in front of the Lincoln County Courthouse on the west side and of the Confederate flag (not the battle flag that most recognize but the real one) next to the American flag on the front of the UDC (United Daughters of the Confederacy) Hall on Pine Street at Academy.  

The UDC Hall (once known as Pleasant Retreat Academy) is a historic building.  It belongs to Lincoln County--it's public property.  It is leased to the UDC for almost nothing with the understanding that they are responsible for its upkeep.  As their numbers have dwindled, they've had trouble coming up with enough money to do that in recent years.

Mayor Ed Hatley was among those who participated in Confederate Memorial Day back in the Spring.  Some might criticize him for that.  

I have long said that if you ask most whites, they'll tell you that racial discrimination is largely a thing of the past.  They'll tell you "I don't have a racist bone in my body." They believe it.

If you ask most blacks, racial discrimination is alive and well.  The civil rights struggle is not over. Blacks are still arrested and incarcerated in numbers far in excess of their proportion of the population. Despite changes in laws, they'll insist that blacks still don't have the same opportunities as whites. Changing laws, they'll say, doesn't change attitudes.

Many of those who defend the Confederate symbols as heritage and claim they have no racial bias will tell you that the Black Lives Matter movement is as much a terrorist organization as the KKK or the neo-Nazis. They will display their support of the police and believe that while there "may be a few bad cops" that most of the claims of police brutality against blacks are overstated and unsupported.  

I'm not going to tell you that I have all the answers.  There is certainly some justification for the removal of some Confederate items from public buildings and other facilities.  Not allowing the Confederate battle flag to continue flying over the statehouse in Columbia seems entirely appropriate.  Call it heritage if you will; there is no doubt that it was also a symbol of hate, especially since it had become associated with the KKK and other such groups.  

Those people who have a Confederate (battle) flag sticker on their cars or trucks will tell you it has nothing to do with hatred of blacks, but their behavior at times belies their claim.

Do I think the Confederate Memorial on the Courtsquare should be removed?  Truth is, I've got a drink of cool water there many times on a hot summer day and never really thought about it being a Confederate memorial. Most people who visit the Gaston County Courthouse never even notice the Confederate soldier statue now sitting high above an obelisk.

What about the UDC Hall? Is that a slap in the face of blacks?  Truth is, most probably didn't even know it is a publicly owned building.  A lot confuse the UDC with the DAR, even one County Commissioner who in a discussion about the condition of the building earlier this year, said the County leased it to the DAR (he was wrong).  

My best friend is a black man. He was surprised some time back to hear my say that my own brother is a racist. He agrees--based on conversations with my brother who at first didn't realize that he was black. My brother is NOT an evil person.  He is not unintelligent. He has been kind and generous to me and a good father and grandfather. He's a good man--but I believe that he is mistaken in some of his opinions. No doubt, he would say the same of me.  

My neighbors are not bad people; quite the contrary. The writer of that email full of venom toward Muslims is not an evil man.  

One life-changing realization for me came when I was about five years old when an uncle who had fought in World War I showed me a belt buckle he had taken from the body of a dead German soldier. It bore the words, "Gott mit uns."  I asked what it meant, and I was told it meant "God is with us." If that was true, I wondered, why did they lose the war? Reality had just made what I had been taught as a child questionable.  

The University of Texas at Austin in 2015 removed certain statues from pedestals where they had stood for 82 years. One was a statue of Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy. The other was a statue of US President Woodrow Wilson.  The Davis statue was later put in a history museum on campus and the Wilson statue was moved to another location on the campus. Wilson, for anyone who doesn't know, was responsible for segregating most government offices in Washington during his Presidency.

At the time, UT decided against moving statues of Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Albert Sidney Johnston, Confederate Postmaster John H. Reagan and James Stephen Hogg, the first native-born governor of Texas and the son of a Confederate general. The four had deeper ties to Texas they said. Before becoming the supreme commander of the Confederate army, Lee served in the US Army and was considered a hero of the Mexican-American War.

It has been said that the winners of wars write the history to suit their side.  It is also true that those in power have the ability--if not the right--to decide what is and is not appropriate.  

I don't have all the answers, but I do have this thought on the questions of heritage, history, and hatred.  I don't know for sure who wrote it (there are different claims) but it's still worth repeating, and this particular version is my favorite:

There is so much good in the worst of us
And so much bad in the best of us
That it ill behooves any of us
To speak poorly of the rest of us.

This past Sunday, my good friend Rev. Lewis Lowery, pastor of Fancy Hill Baptist Church near Hardin, invited me to his church.  I was made to feel welcome. I would hope that if he and others went to a predominantly white church, they'd be just as welcomed.  

I have long said, it is easy to hate black people; it is easy to hate white people.  (I might add it is also easy to hate Muslims and Jews and Christians and atheists.)  It is difficult to hate people you know.  We must get to know each other and recognize what one of my favorite poets (Maya Angelou) said in her poem The Human Family: "We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike."


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