The Madison County Journal
August 2, 2000
Liberals put wedge
between the races
Last week I had a highly enjoyable experience that reminded me
of a truth about the South that is largely ignored.
I learned that one of my black neighbors was preparing a fund-raising
barbecue to benefit his church. As a part of the meal, he was
cooking a pot of old-fashioned country hash. He told me that
only two people know the recipe for his hash and they learned
it from his grandfather. Those of you who know me know that I
was sure to show up for that meal!
Country hash is made from finely ground beef and chicken, along
with vegetables and spices. The recipe is then cooked overnight
in a large cast iron wash pot. Most rural families have their
own recipe for the secondary ingredients. Hash from each family
will have slight differences, but the basic flavor of beef and
chicken is always predominant.
While the hash served to me was cooked from a secret recipe,
it was similar to that cooked by members of my own family. So
was the barbecue and the homemade cake. And it was logical that
it would be so. After all, traditional rural Southerners, black
and white, share a similar culture.
In the aftermath of slavery, and the devastation of Reconstruction,
most rural Southerners were left in a state of poverty. We all
had to learn to make do with what we had. We all found it necessary
to use everything available to us to feed, clothe and house our
families. And we all found the same methods of solving those
problems. As a result, rural Southerners, black and white, have
more in common than we have that separates us.
Surviving the poverty of the post-war South required that our
ancestors learn to be resourceful, versatile and hardworking.
They soon learned that they could survive in the face of any
difficulty. They learned to look to their families and neighbors
to help when they ran into problems too difficult to solve alone.
Thus arose the Southern principles of personal responsibility,
family loyalty and duty to the community. These principles are
the basis of today's conservative philosophy. If you go among
rural Southerners, black and white, you will find these conservative
ideals are still strong, and there lies the problem with those
who support big government liberalism.
A group of radical left politicians are using the old "divide
and conquer" technique in an effort to force their big government
ideals on a conservative South. The easiest way to divide Southerners
is along racial lines. They believe that by forcing a wedge between
black and white Southerners, they can prevent us from working
together to promote self-reliance, family values and communitybased
government. They then declare that only big government liberal
policies can solve the problems they help to create.
Therefore, rather than seek ways for communities to solve problems
such as educational failure, unwed mothers, lack of work skills
and cooperation between people of all races and colors, these
groups devote tremendous energy toward disrupting our area with
attacks on Southern symbols. Rather than encouraging Southerners
to solve community problems, they create racial animosity. They
do everything they can to keep us from discovering just how alike
Southern blacks and whites know each other well. We share the
same love of God, love of family and love of community. If we
are left alone, we will quickly develop close ties between the
races and work together to build strong individuals, strong families
and strong communities.
If the radical left politicians of all races will just leave
us alone, we will get along just fine, thank you.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal.
His web page can be accessed at www.mcga.net.
By Ben Munro
The Madison County Journal
August 2, 2000
is slowly creeping
It's 95 degrees on a Friday, my car has no air conditioning and
I'm stuck in a traffic jam because there's only one lane open
on the highway due to construction.
And I'm in Madison County.
While I was living in cities like New Orleans, Atlanta and Jacksonville
in my pre-teen years, Madison County was a rural haven for my
family when we came to visit our relatives - an escape from the
hustle and bustle of the overcrowded urban existence.
Now that I see a four-lane highway, Hwy. 72, being constructed
right through the heart of the county, I can't help but see it
as a subtle turning point in the county's history.
The concrete is slowly creeping.
I stole that line from a lesser-known Lynyrd Skynyrd song, "All
I can do is write it in a song," in which the Southern rock
outfit talks about the disappearance of the rural landscape in
an acoustic ballad. (And if you have the band's "Essential
Skynyrd" greatest hits album, the track is number 10 on
the second disc - give it a listen.)
But that line seems to epitomize what is going on in the county.
It seems like dirt is constantly being dug up and the asphalt
is steadily making its push eastward. What started west of Hull
on Hwy. 72 has now stretched all the way to Colbert.
But this is just a sign of changing times in my opinion. The
county is receiving that constant urban push from Athens and
the widening of the highway is just one of the first steps in
the county's facelift.
Now, I'm not a home-grown product of Madison County, although
my roots do lie here, but the simplicity of the county's rural
backdrop has always been appealing to me.
From Watson's Mill State Park to the ole' courthouse in Danielsville
to a hay field in the outskirts of Comer to downtown Ila, Madison
County has a look and character all its own, as do many of the
communities that dot the country backdrop of Northeast Georgia.
And much of the county was connected by what used to be a sleepy,
two-lane highway that ran along the railroad tracks.
But as the concrete and construction enter the county as seen
on Hwy. 72, I believe that unique flavor will begin to wither.
It's a tradeoff that comes with getting bigger; you get assimilated
with the masses.
Now, I'm not saying that there is anything wrong with growth
and construction (be sure you read that sentence).
Population increase is inevitable and creates a definite need
for four-lane highways and more convenience stores and gas stations,
But it is a coming-of-age sort of thing, as the county is at
the onset of leaving the "old days" behind.
You see, after living in large cities and now living in Athens,
where traffic is backed up a quarter of a mile down Macon Hwy.,
you develop an appreciation for the simpler things in life. That's
what Madison County represents to me - rolling fields, grazing
cows, town squares and ole' country roads.
But as one highway becomes widened, so will another; as one dirt
road is paved, so will follow another. What has to be done will
be done. And one day that separation between Athens and Madison
County will be something of the past.
The change of course will not be overnight, but I think it is
definitely on the horizon.
And the concrete is slowly creeping.
Ben Munro is a reporter for The Madison County Journal.