Madison County Opinion...

SEPTEMBER 22, 2004


Column
By Frank Gillispie
The Madison County Journal
September 22, 2004

Frankly Speaking

Cultural terrorists have struck again
The cultural terrorists have struck again. Acting on a request by the Augusta NAACP, city officials have removed a Confederate flag from the riverwalk in Augusta.
“We need to make sure anytime citizens walk on the riverwalk and Visit the Radisson Hotel, they won’t be offended by anything that’s there,” Dr. Smith, head of the Augusta NAACP said.
Bowing to the pressure of the group, Augusta Commissioner Bobby Hankerson said anything that hurts business and causes division can be done without.
“I think there’s a proper place for all that,” he said. “I think in the museums.”
Just who makes up the modern NAACP? They are a completely new group. They hold just the opposite views of the founders of that great organization.
The NAACP was founded to fight bigotry and intolerance. And they were highly successful. They were so successful that the organization was no longer needed and was fading gracefully from the scene.
Then the current leadership seized control. They have as their agenda the destruction of all things Southern. Rather than opposing bigotry and intolerance, they now are the nation’s leading practitioners of bigotry and intolerance toward Southern culture and heritage. They will not be happy until every single flag, every monument to Southern heroes and every song about “Dixie” is hidden away in the musty basement of some obscure museum.
Augusta’s city officials have abandoned their culture and heritage just to draw a single NAACP convention to their town. That is a short sighted move.
Far more people will be offended by what they do not see on the riverwalk than what they would see if the flag was left alone. If this decision stands, hundreds of thousands of Southerners will now take special measures to avoid Augusta. Rather than gaining economically by removing the flag, the city will suffer considerable economic loss due to its absence. Defenders of Southern heritage have considerable economic and political strength. Anyone who doubts that should ask former governor Roy Barnes.
And you can be assured that the Southern Heritage movement will be fully-versed in Augusta’s actions. Southern links on the Internet are already buzzing with the news. Plans are under way for a massive flag display and protest march in Augusta in the near future. Augusta’s travel and tourism officials will see their figures drop rapidly. Empty restaurants and hotel rooms will be the norm.
Finally, the city of Augusta can expect more demands from the NAACP and their supporters that other Southern symbols be removed. You see, just as any other terrorist group, the cultural terrorist view any surrender to their demands as proof of weakness. They will not be satisfied with one concession. They will demand more and more. Every concession will lead to more demands.
Soon, Augusta will be just like Atlanta, with every vestige of their Southern heritage wiped away. And when that happens, Augusta and the South will be far poorer for it.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His e-mail address is frankgillispie@charter.net. His website can be accessed at http://frankgillispie.tripod.com

Column
By Zach Mitcham
The Madison County Journal
September 22, 2004

In the Meantime

When the storm rolls in
It'll wake you up in a sweat, the mind turning the sky dark, the wind howling — the tornado coming. We see it in our sleep.
But it was no dream for Madison County this past week, even though there was sort of an unreal quality to everything about it — the approach of the storm, the chaos of the moment, the aftermath.
When the wind is gone, when things are finally still, a person will do a double-take, will almost certainly ask, "Is this real?"
And we all know that's a legitimate question. Who can't ask such a question when they look at a tin roof stuck in an embrace with a telephone pole, when they see a trailer raised and tumbled, a car flipped, a roof gone — when they see all that's familiar shaken?
The cars rolled through Kingston Greens, down Alberta Drive, past the recreation department or down Ingram Road Friday morning, with faces against the windows, eyes wide, taking in the unreal scenes of toppled trees, scattered debris and fractured houses.
Many folks would view the damage and return to their own homes, feeling fortunate to have been spared the random fury of nature. But others had no such luxury.
And though dreamlike weirdness surely accompanies a disaster, there's a harsh, harsh reality that confronts those directly affected. And there is a distinct loneliness for a person whose home is suddenly gone or violated by enormous forces.
I've witnessed this, though I can't claim to know the deeper hurt — at least not like my mom, dad and sister. I had left for college three years before the 1994 flood destroyed my parents' home in Macon. So the emotional pinch of losing the house was so much sharper for my family, who still lived there.
But the images sure have stuck with me. I'll never forget seeing the aftermath, how the chest-high brown water flipped my mother's old piano, and the bedrooms had become swampy snake hazards. Everything in the house seemed twisted into an unreal, morbid version of its former self. And it seemed strange to think of the table where we ate Christmas dinner buckled under some enormous force from outside.
I remember looking through the basement with my father. I discovered stacks of old papers, his early attempts at poetry and fiction, ruined for good in the flood water. He sort of laughed it off and said his early writing attempts weren't worth keeping, but I knew better.
I rode with my family to see the house right after the flood. When we arrived we discovered that my friend Dean and his dad had already been hard at work, pulling ruined furniture out of the house and into the yard.
Seeing them work together to carry a stinky, soaked sofa for my family in a time of need is an image of kindness that I still hold 10 years after the fact.
I'm sure 10 years from now, many people in Madison County will recall that strange mix of bad dream and harsh reality that accompanies a home disaster. They'll surely always remember that.
But I also know that many images of kindness were stamped into the long-term memory of storm victims this week — whether it was a stranger climbing on a roof to help tie down a blue tarp, or a person offering a meal or a place to stay.
There were countless warm gestures that fall out of the public eye. And there were numerous hours logged by weary-eyed men and women intent on helping, whether in assigned duty or in some spontaneous task.
In such a wide-scale effort, there is a goodness of heart that is evident in the community, a collective voice that says, "You are not alone."
It's worth recognizing that.
It's worth a sincere thanks.
And it's worth remembering that goodness of spirit when the darkness rolls in again, whether it's above us, or within.
Zach Mitcham is editor of The Madison County Journal.

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