In the current environment of race sensitivity, I think it is necessary to ask certain questions. I think the best way to move forward as a nation is to have a dialoged. With Halloween approaching I am reminded of a situation last year where children were criticized for dressing up as characters not of their race. In a time when we are pushing for equality and inclusiveness, at what point do we cross a line into racism? In the past Disney has been accused of racism by making most of their characters white and in recent years has done their best to create a diverse cast of heroes and princesses. In our efforts to diversify, what happens if a little girl loves a character like Moana and wants to dress as her for Halloween? In some ways this should be celebrated as the type of color blindness we want to teach our children, but in other ways this is being seen as racism and cultural appropriation. Historically speaking this is actually not new. We have seen examples of this over the past decade, but also from a tumultuous decade a long time ago.
In 2011, Touchstone released the movie The Help based on the very popular novel of the same name. The movie and the book were both massive hits; the book spent over 100 weeks on the best seller list. The story is set during the 1960s in the south and both the book and movie were praised for bringing to light the difficult subject of racism and the treatment of black domestic help. Yet it also showed the strength of the three leading women, two black and one white, as they in their own ways fought against this negative treatment. However, jump forward to the present and the same book and movie are now under scrutiny.
A similar thing happened last year when Oprah Winfrey announced the book American Dirt as her book club pick. Winfrey’s book club is possibly the most famous book club in history and her choices are normally celebrated. Winfrey claimed this book captured her attention from the very beginning and it was a story needing to be told. It is about a middle-class Mexican woman and her son fleeing from a drug lord that recently took over their Mexican town. This incredibly violent story details enduring hardships and the struggle many migrants must go through to try to better their lives. However, probably to Winfrey’s surprise, this book also came under attack.
In both cases the books drew criticism because the authors were white, and their detractors said both women wrote about issues they were not familiar with nor could possibly understand. The Help also is accused of having a white savior complex or the idea that it took a white woman to solve the black women’s problems. Even though, in both cases, the authors were actually trying to shine a light on the struggles of minorities, many felt they were trying to profit from others’ hardships. This may seem like a 2021 issue, where we have become very sensitive of cultural appropriation, but in fact this is a very old one.
In 1852, the most important and highest selling novel of the Nineteenth Century was released. Uncle Tom’s Cabin written by abolitionist Harriet Beecher Stowe told a fictional story of slaves in the south. The principal character, Uncle Tom, was owned by a good Christian family who came on difficult financial times and was forced to sell a couple of their favorite slaves, slaves who they saw almost as family. Tom ended up being passed from one master to the next, some caring, some bad, and eventually one who was evil and beat Tom to death.
The Shelby’s, Tom’s original owners, were also forced to sell the young son of Eliza, who when Eliza found out took him and ran to freedom in the North. It is a harrowing tale of survival. What Stowe was able to do was put a face to slavery. Many in the north had no connection to slavery or had never met a slave. They only knew what they had heard, that blacks did not have the same feelings as whites. They were not as affected when their young were sold away. Whites used the fact that their slaves seemed to just go back to work and did not seem to mourn those that were lost. Of course, the slaves had no other choice but to go back to work under physical duress. What Stowe did was show the pain and agony slaves endured. She turned more people into abolitionists than anyone else. Even Lincoln when he met her said, “So you’re the little woman that started this Great War!”
The other thing it did was show that slavery hurt whites. The Shelby’s were good people forced to do an evil thing. Throughout the book are constant stories about whites forced to come to terms with this evil institution. In some ways the kind sweet young Eva, who took such good care of Tom, had to die. If not, she would have been corrupted by the institution of slavery.
Even with the success of the novel in some circles the book was condemned. One of the key criticisms was the fact that Stowe had never been in the south or around slaves and so could in no way know what slavery was like. Southerners claimed her depictions were inaccurate and slanderous and the book was banned from most southern states.
Historically speaking, even though Stowe was a white northerner woman, and for today’s standards perpetuated negative racial stereotypes, she possibly did more to bring to light the problems with slavery than any other person. If Lincoln was right, it was this book that brought on the war that brought an end to slavery.
I understand and want to be sensitive to cultural appropriation, but I also fear too much sensitivity is actually pushing us in the wrong direction. I understand the history of black face and as a white man may not understand the pain of cultural appropriation. Yet if a little girl has embraced diversity and her favorite princess is a person of color, is she crossing the line of racism, or should we celebrate her inclusiveness? I am not saying I know the answer to this, but what I fear is from now on we tell children to embrace diversity but when it comes to choosing your favorite characters make sure they are white.
Dr. James Finck is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma in Chickasha. He is Chair of the Oklahoma Civil War Symposium. Follow Historically Speaking at www.Historicallyspeaking.blog.
Ostrich or Eagle?
Right and left, sometimes reality is too painful for our dearest friends and neighbors to face. From time to time, I have the same problem, going to the dentist for example. Then too, others in our community may be swept along in the frenzy of conspiracy theories du jour, trusting extremist rumors instead of the jargon of evolving science that speaks another indecipherable language altogether, at times confusing us with changes – based on factual analysis – hard to keep up with. I too find hype and spin easier to grasp.
Our polarization bothers me. Though we may for the moment be mystified by their point of view, seeming to bypass critical thought, these friends and neighbors are still the good people who may have pulled us out of a snowdrift last year or lent a comforting ear in a time of crisis just when we needed that. My tolerance falls upon the shoulders of these good people. While not agreeing, I try to understand and hope they feel the same way about me. We always liked each other. Why stop now?
In that vein, I’ll listen to what you have to say. But for the moment listen to me. There are others amongst us preying upon our deepest fears, scaring us to the extent that some of us bury our heads in the sand of any other point of view. They get us to buy into their fiction instead of our “lying eyes”. You know them. They’re the loudest, the most aggressive – they insult, they bully, they threaten, they feed on your fears and create new ones; they promise and never deliver, and they make stuff up. They’re so sure of their hypnotic power over us that at least one of them told us January 6 was just tourists led astray by Antifa infiltrators – and some believe it. Is hypnosis the only explanation I can come to? Our eyes weren’t lying.
There are big issues that we, as a community, have to face. – Really BIG. The virus that’s killed 800,000+ Americans is not spin, global warming is not a myth, and racism is a fact (I know it and so do you.) Together, let’s get our heads out of the sand and deal with these issues. We CAN do something about each of them. Stop listening to rabble-rousers manipulating your fears for their own short-term self-interest and power grabs. They know what they’re doing. Don’t fall for it.
Listen to Fox News. I do. And tune in to PBS or CNN. I do. Don’t take my word for anything, or anyone else’s. Listen to both sides – then use your good common sense, not political agendas, and make up your own mind. Don’t let anyone else do it for you.
Be eagles instead of ostriches.
Generally what we know and don’t know
Today I’d like to talk about the COVID virus and our path forward as a county. This virus has tested our county and our country like nothing we’ve experienced in decades. It may not nearly be over in the foreseeable future without continued support. There is all sorts of information out there and so do any thoughts and opinions that go right along with the beliefs about it. We each should look at our own situation, health, and information that we feel is correct and make a choice to vaccinate or not to vaccinate. Questions, “Check and discuss this with your Doctor”, that choice is ours.
We have more cases on average now than we did at the height of the infections at the start of the challenge in 2020. One in almost every 5 + people (that number is just from the ones that have been formally checked by the hospitals, doctors, and Valley Health) have been infected already and it is predicted this surge has not reached its peak. Yet already our local ICU beds are being challenged to even admit additional patients or are near a level of capacity. We’ve all seen or heard the horror stories of counties, states, and countries that were overwhelmed by COVID-19 and had to ration healthcare for those most in need. We cannot let that happen here.
Warren County’s COVID-19 and its variants have a high transmission rate due to any reason but it seems that unvaccinated people are at an even higher risk. Vaccinated people have a lower risk, but it is still there, even with the two shots plus the booster, it can still strike again.
There’s a developing consensus that there will be more tough times before it gets better. How bad? We don’t know for sure. How long? We don’t know that either.
There is still a lot we don’t know about this virus. Exactly how it’s transmitted, by the air, close contact, crowds, etc… We know it can be deadly, but we also don’t know how many survivors will have permanent damage to their hearts, lungs, brains, and other body parts. We don’t know if the antibodies will last for those exposed to the virus or if a vaccine is even a realistic possibility in the long term without continued boosters like the flu or the many other diseases for which we have taken shots.
Until we have solid solutions, the unknown is going to be with us. To me, that’s an unsettling thought but it doesn’t leave us defenseless.
There are things we can do individually and collectively that work to reduce the risk of catching the COVID-19 virus in the first place…social distancing, limiting personal contact time, washing your hands, wearing a mask in public, and getting the shots and booster. You’ve heard them all repeatedly. What I want to drive home today is why it’s important to you and your family and friends, and maybe your business to continue following all reasonable guidelines during this time for the foreseeable future. I don’t expect mandates unless the government changes its direction on prevention. Public opinion is just too high for this to be changed. Precautions are a choice.
There will be some that say this idea is unsound, crazy, or worse but realistically, the COVID virus doesn’t care about who you are, your political position, your health, your religious beliefs or social standards your wealth, or living standard. The Virus only “cares” about finding the next host so it can infect, multiply and continue to infect others, multiply and mutate. If it can’t find a new host, it slowly dies.
We’ve been “fortunate” in Warren County and haven’t been as hard hit as other parts of Virginia. I put fortunate in quote marks, however. Over 7699 plus confirmed cases are reported so far and that is the number having been reported, included in this number is the 111+ deaths is mind-numbing to me. I grieve for each family and person that has suffered in any way from this relentless infection.
Yet, as a county, we are fortunate because, for the most part, people are learning to do their part to prevent the spread of the disease. Imagine though, if we have a continued spike in cases. Hospital beds would continue to fill up like they are in Florida, Texas, California, and other places in the country. Medical staff, who are already tired and some even exhausted, would quickly continue to be short-staffed and overwhelmed. Businesses would have to close or be short-staffed and less than what they would like to be again, some never to reopen. Jobs lost. We’d be right back to square one.
That’s why we can’t allow a surge to continue to happen here, in Warren County. It would continue to be devastating.
The virus spreads when a carrier, someone who’s infected, is in close proximity with others for several minutes. I find it hard to stay 6 feet away from people I’m talking to. And I talk with people a lot during the day with all activities I do.
Our actions should tend to put us into what we feel is a new normal and to be within 6 feet of someone when you’re talking. I understand that and I have to concentrate and make an effort to distance myself all the time.
There are times it is impossible to stay a safe distance away. Keep the conversation short. It takes several minutes of exposure to infect someone or get infected. IF you feel unsafe or in a new situation wear a mask. We seem to feel a mask provides limited protection for the person wearing it but offers some protection for others. Some protection is better than none. Avoid touching your face and wash or sanitize your hands thoroughly as soon as you’re done. Remember it only takes one time being in the wrong place at the wrong time or situation to get infected.
A friend of mine has an interesting way of looking at it. He tells his kids that anyone they come in close contact with is a part of their family for 14 days…someone at work, someone at school, random people at the grocery store, or park anywhere. The more people you come into close contact with, the greater the risk. So take precautions and just be aware.
While supporting our local businesses to support customers and staff to wear masks help some in restaurants and other service areas. Admittedly I understand it is their choice. The stance is getting harder, be patient with it and if you can comply, try and do your part. It is a choice.
Our businesses recognize the need for precautions in close quarters. We get many visitors from Northern Virginia and the District and all over the region and adjoining states after all we are a tourist town. Still, areas are having an increase in cases right now. While we want them to come and enjoy our beautiful area, we also want them to be safe and not spread the virus or take it back with them when they leave, if at all possible.
We’re expecting our schools to know how to safely provide the best education we can for our young people no matter how they are given it. Let’s try our best to continue to help keep the schools open. The plan has to be safe for students, teachers, and staff to the best of the school system’s ability. A lot is being asked on so many levels by our parents, teachers, and students so we need to be reasonable and aware.
More broadly, we must look “down the road” to see how to be better prepared for possible unintended consequences of the COVID-19 virus and its various variants that may be headed our way.…the potential food supply chain interruptions (look at some of the food shortages now, they are not bad, but look like a possibility), homelessness, frustration or even unrest, we need to work with our non-profits and our churches to be as prepared as much as possible for the potential’s that could be out there. If there is a local spike, we can’t start planning then, then it will be too late, it will have to be now. Build our community, and county from a different level, protecting our own.
We’re already feeding at-risk children and their families. Since the epidemic started, boxes of food have been delivered to local families and in the future, more boxes of food will be delivered, if the need exists. I’m proud of a Victory Garden that was started this summer and run by volunteers that have produced fresh vegetables that have been taken to C-CAP, Loaves and Fishes, Salvation Army, and other Church food banks for distribution to those that may or even want it to the tune of 4 tons of fresh produce. The recipients have always been appreciative. There is room for more.
It is that sense of volunteerism in our community that gives me the greatest hope. By putting aside our differences and looking out for each other, we can overcome this virus and continue to be another step down the road to economic and social recovery.
Times are tough. Tough times can bring out the best in people, all people. That is what I’m counting on.
Be considerate of others by wearing a mask in public if you choose. Be aware of getting too close. Reduce the risk of infection by avoiding crowds washing your hands and sanitizing whenever you’ve been out.
I know there is the possibility I will be inundated with other comments about all the reasons why this is all false. The simple fact is people are sick, some have lost their lives and that should just keep us aware that something is going on. I am not one for the politics of it, or the religious or even medical possibilities. The Risk does not seem to outweigh the need to protect yourself and others when and where you can. Be aware.
IF you choose, “Get the Vaccine”.
If you have questions about the vaccine and if it is right for you and with your current medical situation. “Talk to your Doctor“
We are stronger together.
Revival vs Revolution
Probably most young people under the age of 35 may not know what a revival is, because all that is being melted out nowadays is a revolution!
In medical terms, to revive someone from the brink of death is to do whatever is necessary to keep that person alive.
In religion, it means to bring back the moral, integrity, and character of God in one’s life.
Speaking of today’s ideologies, theories and phycological thinkers, it’s all about being one-sided in the political realm; there is no debate, there is no hearing what the others may have to right a wrong or seek common ground on things that just might work of all citizens.
No, not today! Some people want what they want and that is a lawless and disorderly society so they can riot, protest in hate and foolish destruction and call it justice!
Some foreigners that are here say, “You don’t want a dictatorship government or military intervention!”
The whole reason they say that is because America is different from where they were born and raised. They see the freedoms and liberties given to all citizens here. Not just a few in wealth and prestige.
Through the decades we as a nation have withstood wars and disasters, hardships and calamities, and yet that is being forgotten over one’s will to control the minds of the forgotten and helpless!
Wake Up America
Front Royal, Virginia
George Banks remembered fondly
A distinct feeling of loss came over me this morning as I sat in my room in South Carolina and read of the passing of former councilman and Mayor of Front Royal, George Banks.
The words that kept coming to my mind were, always a gentleman always a friend.
I had served with George on the town council in the mid-nineties. It was from George that I began to learn to disagree without being disagreeable – a lesson I still have to work on. But for George it seemed almost natural. No matter if you disagreed with him or not, one never left a meeting angry at George.
It also always seemed to me that he had a love of Front Royal, and in some existential way Front Royal loved him back.
My sincere condolences to his wife Cornellia and to his family and friends and in a different way, to the town and people of Front Royal.
Former FR resident, mayor, and councilman
Shifting of a Legacy?
With Martin Luther King Day approaching, I have thought a lot about the man who, more than anyone else, historically represents the Civil Rights movement and social justice. At the same time, I have noticed something strange. Is it possible that the keepers of King’s legacy is shifting right? I am not talking about the far right but the right of today’s progressive movement and somewhere in the realm of moderate Democrats and Republicans. I’ll explain what I mean.
King introduced himself to the world when he took over leadership of the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955. His charisma, talent, and message of non-violent protest quickly made him a household name and, depending on your viewpoint, became either the most famous or infamous man in the Civil Rights movement. The left claimed him as their champion as he fought to change the status quo and demanded equal rights. The right feared him and saw him as dangerous when he said things like, “Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.”
To the right, especially in the South, King wanted to fight against 400 years of racial superiority. He wanted to change the only way of life they knew. King would feel the brunt of their fear as it was personified in hatred. He, his family, and friends dealt with threats, violence, prison, and even death to stand for what they believed in. Yet King never backed down from what he knew to be right while also never turning away from his belief in non-violence, or as he once said, ““Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
It is said that time heals all wounds, and that seems to be the case with the legacy of King. Moving into the 1970s and 1980s there was racial progress. Race relations were not perfect, just like they are not today, but when comparing life to the 1950s our nation has come a long way. Somewhere along that journey, King went from being a hero on the left to a national hero. By the time I began school in the early 1980s, King was being celebrated by all. I remember listening to his “I Had a Dream Speech” in school when I was a young kid in Virginia. Martin Luther King Day was signed into law in 1983 and done so by a Republican Senate and Ronald Reagan, a champion of the right.
The fact that the right accepted King is not what’s surprising. It’s the idea now that many on the right are seeming to champion his cause. Think about what you see or read in the media. When groups like Black Lives Matter chant their slogan, what is the response from the right? “All lives Matter.” Then somewhere someone will undoubtedly quote the most famous of King’s speeches when he said, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” I have thought on this a lot recently and tried to pay attention to what different people are saying. From my very unscientific survey, I have found that people on the right outnumber those on the left when citing King in arguments. Granted, most are cherry-picking his quotes, mostly from the “I have a Dream” speech. Probably few have read King’s “Mountaintop” speech where he called for wealth and power redistribution, yet King’s major message may not resonate as much with some on the left as it once did. Especially with the young and progressive wing.
In the 1960s and with the older and moderates today, the goal of the left was a color-blind integrated society. For them, King’s statement of character over skin color plays perfectly. However, for others on the left today, racial goals include categorizing people into races. It’s not that progressives are wrong but are different from what King wanted. King founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference with the mission statement of “one nation, under God, indivisible, together with the commitment to activate the ‘strength to love’ within the community of humankind.” With organizations like Black Lives Matter, their mission statement says, “to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes. By combating and countering acts of violence, creating space for Black imagination and innovation, and centering Black joy, we are winning immediate improvements in our lives.” These are minor differences but also important ones.
In some ways I wonder if parts of the modern movement are more influenced by another important but lesser-known Civil Rights leader, Stokely Carmichael. Space is too limited to give his entire background, but Carmichael is worth looking up. He was a veteran of Freedom Summer and the Freedom Rides and took over leadership of SNCC. It was Carmichael who began to push the idea of “Black Power,” which called “for Black people in this country to unite, to recognize their heritage, to build a sense of community. It is a call for Black people to define their own goals, to lead their own organizations.” As for King, he did not outwardly criticize “Black Power” and said he understood where Carmichael was coming from, but ultimately opposed it.
I am in no way trying to criticize either side here, right or left. It is simply an observation and historical curiosity. I also see it as incredibly positive how most on the right have embraced Dr. King as a hero. I am grateful that the entire nation can honor what Dr. King did, but, historically speaking, it does seem as if his legacy has gone through a shift from left to center.
Dr. James Finck is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma in Chickasha. He is Chair of the Oklahoma Civil War Symposium. Follow Historically Speaking at www.Historicallyspeaking.blog.
Oh boy! A cabal
Wow, a cabal! – I want to join. I worked for the Federalis for 30 years, and if that isn’t a cabal, nothing is. But here: Threats of destruction, secret sources, dead drops, random accusations of conspiracy, strange titles like interim (fill in the blank), dog attacks, now publicly admitted marital infidelities, threatening people who had nothing to do with things. Yep, it sounds like a normal workweek for me. But they have gone over the line now – they pissed Roger off. But be careful Roger, you might be walking down the street and get mauled by friendly bullmastiffs (if there is such a thing). That’s it, throw down the gauntlet, Gentle Knight, the gloves are coming off.
As fun as this may sound, you have to think, “Why can’t the Town ever do anything without lawsuits, accusations of wrongdoings, threats, intrigues, and temper tantrums. We remember such laughs as:
“We have no moral requirement to pay for the police station” (although the Town had the thing built and rapidly moved into it – I mean, it wasn’t like it just sprang up overnight).
The famed “trash-poop bust” at the Bentonville county dump. “Everybody in the County should be fired if not pilloried, ending with “THE Tederick” tantrum: ‘We’ll take our poop elsewhere; that will teach them a lesson’.” This letter penned by THE Tederick is a classic fire and brimstone saga.
The famed Afton Inn – finally being rebuilt without one scratch of Town help (although THE Tederick claimed he was responsible for the deal) even after they wanted to send a letter to the forlorn contractor threatening untold violence if he did not start construction by July. Which money tantrum do you want to have? – The “We aren’t getting our fair share of COVID money” or the “Why doesn’t the County pay for the pipeline” screaming fit.
And more recently the mayor accused his neighbor who reported his loose dogs attacking her and her son of “trying to beat the system” for a lack of proper business permitting.
So you say, “This sounds like a bunch of 10-year-olds battling over who is playing in the sandbox.” THE Tederick gets on the Grand Jury and then eliminates the Mayor with later dropped charges. And then, using his wealth of municipal leadership, he slides into the now vacant seat to begin his “interim” empire. This coup was a classic “THE Tederick” move.
Next, he invents a Town EDA, shuffles people around to temporarily run it while, what – waiting for his anointment as the Head?
You know, with all this intrigue, you would think they could get other things done like getting rid of the eyesores. But instead, with Admin help from inside Town Hall, the Mayor hustles the Planning Commission to fast-track his personal construction project of questionable physical dimensions. Yikes! Somebody leaked a document that would soon or had already been revealed. The “fast track” was not illegal, but it sure looks shady. This is after THE Tederick “right sizes” the staff, much like Cartman for “not obeying his au-thor-a-TY”.
You can have, at the local level, confidential personal information, confidential legal information, and at certain stages, contract-restricted data. But unless the Town has gotten into building stealth bombers (doubtful), there is no SECRET information. I take you back to when Jennifer claimed that all information regarding the EDA was SECRET, which caused people in my office to chuckle.
You give him way too much credit. And please, don’t give him the sobriquet of being a master of disinformation. Roger, you’ve got the whole Counter Intelligence thing wrong. At the level that he was in, there was no “spy vs. spy” activity. Counter-intelligence resembles intelligence, as military music resembles music.
Anyway, I want a cabal T-shirt. Wow, real secret stuff. Let me know where our next midnight meeting will be held.
Warren County, Va.
P.S. Just as I was ready to fire this off, THE Tederick exploded again. However, Chairman Cheryl Cullers interrupted to tell Tederick, “If this is going to be another personal attack, I won’t allow it.” “If it turns to personal attacks, I will ask you to be seated,” Cullers responded, leading Tederick to counter, “You listen to my comments and then determine if they’re personal attacks.” For the second time, Tederick requested and was granted a restarting of the three-minute clock manned by Board Deputy Clerk Emily Ciarrocchi, at which point he restarted his remarks.
“Sir, I’m going to stop you. This is turning into a personal attack. If you feel,” at which point Tederick interrupted to ask, “Is that where you’re going with this? Let me know today if you’re going to stop me.”
“Yes, sir,” the board chair replied, leading Tederick to leave the podium, but not before adding, “You’ll be hearing from someone.” Wow! A threat. He didn’t say who or what, but it sounds like somebody might sleep with the fishes. Be careful young Matthew; the Cabal is watching you.