Madison County Opinion...

JUNE 23, 2004

By Frank Gillispie
The Madison County Journal
June 23, 2004

Frankly Speaking

Big gov’t crowd rewrites history
It appears to be a trend. If history doesn’t agree with your political opinions, just rewrite history. We traditional Southerners have long faced this kind of abuse. The far left regularly distorts southern history in order to justify their attempts to destroy all signs of our culture.
Why? Because the key to southern culture is our self reliance. We don’t need a giant government bureaucracy to run our lives for us. The big government crowd simply can’t stand to see people who have no need for them.
So they are trying to punish us for rejecting their all powerful government by denying us the right to sing our songs, fly our flags or honor our heroes.
But we are not alone in this situation. A group of so-called biblical scholars are now proclaiming that ancient Israel never existed. These people, called minimalists, say that the Bible is a false document. To them, the Book of God was written far after the events it describes. The purpose of the forgery, they say, was to deprive the Palestinians of their rightful place as the occupants of the area formally known as Canaan.
There was no Kingdom of Israel, they say. If King David ever existed, he was some minor warlord leading an insignificant band of outlaws. The story of Moses and the Ten Commandments was a fable. The Temple of Solomon never existed.
Why are they trying to destroy Israel’s history? Israel came into existence as a group of independent, self reliant, family orientated villages occupying the narrow fertile valleys scattered about the central mountain range. They came from various sources. Some were fleeing the abuse of the Canaanite kings. Others were nomads seeking permanent homes. Another group was fleeing slavery in Egypt.
In their early years, they had no king, no bureaucracy and no standing army.
Each village was autonomous, growing their own food, managing their small herds of animals, and building cisterns to catch and store water. All they needed was their self reliance and the support of their family.
As Hebrew culture matured, they became skilled in managing their own economy. Hebrew traders exchanged surplus food to the lowlands for needed supplies. They modified the old Canaanite alphabet into one of their own.
The Jews became so skilled at being self reliant that they became leading merchants and bankers throughout Europe and the Middle East. Their close family ties helped them avoid domination by would be dictators.
Israel today shows the same characteristics. No one is likely to gain dictatorial powers over them. They are hated by those who want to control the world. Hitler tried to destroy all Jews because they were the one group that would not submit to his dictatorship. A similar thing happened in the Soviet Union
In the Middle East, the radical Islamists are determined to force their beliefs on all people. Israel is the roadblock that prevents them from achieving their goals.
The elitist professors who dominate so many institutes of higher learning find themselves more in agreement with the radicals. They believe that they are superior to the average man, and thus have a right to dictate social and cultural norms. Anyone, like Southerners or the Israelis, who defies their efforts by displays of self reliance are subject to attack.
Nothing will stand in the way of their efforts to control the world, not even history.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His e-mail address is His website can be accessed at

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By Zach Mitcham
The Madison County Journal
June 23, 2004

In The Meantime

A Major League experience
It's easy to go overboard with baseball sentimentality. And we often do in this country. For instance, warm talk about baseball on television or in the movies requires a somber song in the background, preferably something with violins. And if you have even a bone of cynicism in you, baseball nostalgia can leave you feeling like you've eaten too much of something sweet.
That said, there are the genuine sentimental moments that don’t come with violin accompaniment.
And I'm sure a lot of people in Madison County had such a moment Saturday night when the county's most well-known baseball player stepped out of the Cleveland Indian dugout, walked across the third baseline and took his place on the pitcher's mound at Turner Field.
For those who knew Jake Westbrook as a child, there had to be thoughts of the Madison County Recreation Department, the 45-foot mound and the Little League boy with a big league future. Even more people have the mental picture of a fastball sizzling off the fingertips of a 17-year-old at Raider Field as metal bats whiffed at air.
And on Saturday, many people thought, too, of how they fit into the Major Leaguer's life — even if it's by some thin connection.
For instance, you know some guy for Franklin County or some other school near here turned the television on Turner South and bragged to his girlfriend or wife that he once ripped a double off Westbrook in high school — probably not mentioning the 15 times he struck out against the former Raider star.
For others, the connection was much closer, much more personal. Westbrook's friends and family sat in the Turner Field seats this weekend to cheer for their loved one.
No doubt, there was a lot of pressure on Westbrook Saturday night. Standing in front of thousands of strangers — as he has for the past five years in the majors — is one thing. Standing in front of carloads of hopeful family and friends in a stadium first used for the Olympics is quite another.
And while Westbrook wasn't dominant Saturday, not like he was earlier in the week in a shutout performance, the box score of Saturday's game isn't what people will remember anyway — at least not around here.
Many of us who don't know Westbrook know very well the strong-armed Little Leaguers we've seen kick up dirt from the pitcher's mound in Madison County over the years.
And I thought of them as I watched Westbrook at Turner Field Saturday, remembering the times I've focused my camera on a 12-year-old pitcher who dreams of digging his cleats into that well-manicured mound of dirt where Westbrook stood. I thought of all of those boys who were probably either at the stadium or watching at home.
I snapped pictures of Madison County’s Major Leaguer, thinking about how reality catches up with most every kid who dreams of the big leagues.
But, yes, there is the possibility of making the main stage.
And it's that idea, that with enough hard work, you just might make it, that can be one of the best parts of childhood. Think of all the possibility that's there when you hurl a rubber ball against a brick wall and call strike three. Think of all the hope that comes with taking the mound the first time at the recreation department in front of your mom and dad.
Think of all the times you...
Aw, shoot, I can hear the violins.
I'm getting sappy.
Well, I don't care.
Westbrook's remarkable journey and his Saturday start at Turner Field gave me the chance to see a Major League game from a new perspective.
And I admit, I was as excited as a 12-year-old as I stepped on that field between innings, even if it was just to find a better photographer's station, and not to take the mound.
Zach Mitcham is editor of The Madison County Journal.
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