Ala. Editorial on Removal of the Confederate Flag: Have Some Sympathy for the Average White Southerner

A Ku Klux Klan supporter carries the Confederate flag during a demonstration at the Statehouse July 18, 2015, in Columbia, S.C.
John Moore/Getty Images

"It Was a Ragged, Besmirched Flag, but It Was His"

An astonishing number of Southern newspapers are calling for retiring the Confederate battle flag from public places and for re-examining the monuments, memorials and street names that exalt Confederate figures. In Anniston, Ala., on Sunday, however, H. Brandt Ayers, publisher of the Anniston Star, mourned the passing of the Confederate flag for a different reason.

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In a signed editorial, Ayers wrote, "The white Southerner has no powerful friend to bolster his self-esteem and advocate for him. The Republicans take him for granted and the Democrats pretend he doesn't exist. He has no caucus or monument in Washington. . . . It was a ragged and besmirched flag, but it was his."

It isn't difficult to find flaws in the logic that took the publisher to that point. Despite the heroics of black freedom fighters, free and enslaved, from the days of the American Revolution onward, Ayers asserted, "Blacks did not recover their self-respect until the victories of the civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s under the leadership of the great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr."

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Belief in white supremacy was stated in the secession declarations of Southern states, but Ayers wrote of his "fist-tightening anger. . . . at the Klansmen, other thugs and bullet-headed cops with Rebel license tags who kidnapped and cheapened an emblem of loss with honor and turned it into a symbol of hate and fear. . . ."

Although Reconstruction was dismantled by the successors to Abraham Lincoln, Ayers wrote that "there was no Marshall Plan to help the South recover. Instead, it was burdened by artificial freight rates that made refrigerators manufactured in Pittsburgh cheaper than ones made in Birmingham. . . .'

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These assertions were offered to make a point: The loser in the takedown of the Confederate battle flag is the average Southern white man, a point applauded as brave by some journalists on Facebook Monday when the editorial was posted.

"He allows himself to be manipulated by sly Republicans, who recently offered a losing amendment to allow the Confederate flag to be flown at a few places on federal lands," Ayers continued.

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"Ignored or asked to live on a diet of shame for the South's past sins, the working class white's loyalty is won only by cunning play of the race card, and his flag. It was a ragged and besmirched flag, but it was his. Now it's gone.

"I know it was right and timely to lower the flag, but somehow I don't feel like celebrating."

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Meanwhile, some might detect a little Stockholm syndrome at work after reading a piece Monday by Clay Chandler of the Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Miss. He wrote that "Anthony Hervey, a 49-year-old black man who spent several years parading around Oxford and Ole Miss in a Confederate uniform and waving the battle flag, died in a car accident Sunday." 

"He leaves a legacy as bizarre as his public persona. He forced Mississippi's flagship university to rethink its free speech policies. He was also charged with assault after an altercation with a student journalist.

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"Hervey had already established himself as a supporter of the Confederate battle flag before the fall of 2000, but the period's debate over the state flag, when a commission barnstormed the state to take the populace's temperature on whether the banner needed changing, considerably raised his profile.

"The commission's meetings often degenerated into shouted insults and threats. Hervey became so unruly at a forum in Jackson, Capitol Police had to escort him out of the room. . . ."

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Photo of Black Cop Helping White Racist Goes Viral

"The Department of Public Safety's top cop said a picture of him helping a white supremacist that went viral showed 'who we are in South Carolina,' " Cynthia Roldan reported Monday for the Post and Courier in Charleston, S.C.

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"DPS Director Leroy Smith was among several law enforcement agency heads — including State Law Enforcement Division Chief Mark Keel and Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott — working in uniform with their officers during Saturday's Ku Klux Klan and Black Educators for Justice rallies at the Statehouse. . . ."

Roldan also wrote, "As Smith — who is black — helped the white supremacist to the top of the steps of the Statehouse and away from the 'Famously Hot' city’s blistering heat, Gov. Nikki Haley's Deputy Chief of Staff Rob Godfrey snapped a picture of it and posted it on Twitter.

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" 'not an uncommon example of humanity in SC: Leroy Smith helps white supremacist to shelter & water as heat bears down,' Godfrey tweeted.

"Social media posters jumped on the irony and humanity of the picture, retweeting it more than 5,000 times. Smith, a soft-spoken and affable man, downplayed his actions.

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" 'I have been somewhat surprised by how this photo has taken off and gone viral around the world,' said Smith in a news release. 'Our men and women in uniform are on the front lines every day helping people — regardless of the person's skin color, nationality or beliefs. As law enforcement officers, service is at the heart of what we do.

"I believe this photo captures who we are in South Carolina and represents what law enforcement is all about. I am proud to serve this great state, and I hope this photo will be a catalyst for people to work to overcome some of the hatred and violence we have seen in our country in recent weeks.' . . ."

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Chris Aguilar, Leesburg (Va.) Today: Crowd Gathers To Commemorate The Role Of Loudoun Slaves

Associated Press: Confederate flag removed from Norfolk Naval Shipyard

Robert Behre, Post and Courier, Charleston, S.C. Heritage Act isn't likely to go the way of the Confederate flag

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Wayne Bennett, the Field Negro: Leroy's act of kindness.

Alan Blinder and Richard Fausset, New York Times: Confederate Flag Down, but South Carolina Blacks See Bigger Fights

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Editorial, Denton (Texas) Record-Chronicle: All monuments, symbols not equal (June 26)

Editorial, Knoxville (Tenn.) News Sentinel: Battle against racism must go beyond symbols (June 28)

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Editorial, Loudoun Times-Mirror, Loudoun County, Va.: Loudoun can find history and heritage on common ground (July 14)

Editorial, News & Observer, Raleigh, N.C.: Southerners should let the 'Lost Cause' become history (July 12)

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Editorial, Roanoke (Va.) Times: Our view: Why the Confederate battle flag is coming down (July 11)

EURweb.com: LA, National Civil Rights Leaders Will Continue Quest for Name Change of Robert E. Lee School Monday at 1pm

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Joey Garrison, the Tennessean, Nashville: State denies Nashville's request to block I-65 Forrest statue

Stephen Henderson, Detroit Free Press: Symbols of racism cry out for revisiting, context (July 12)

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Elizabeth Koh, Washington Post: Va. crowd rallies for new memorial that honors slaves, Union soldiers

Bj Lewis, Denton (Texas) Record-Chronicle: War memorial marred

Adriana Gomez Licon, Associated Press: Brazilian slave memoir finally released in Portuguese spotlights country's complex racial past

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John Metta, medium.com: I, Racist (July 6)

Rubén Rosario, Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn.: It's not a hard choice: Take slave owner's name off Lake Calhoun

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Jody Seaborn, Austin (Texas) American-Statesman: UT’s Confederate statues: Should they stay or should they go?

Sam Stockard, the Ledger, Nashville, Tenn.: Southern heritage defined differently across Tennessee (July 3)

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Isabel Wilkerson, New York Times: Our Racial Moment of Truth

Emily Yellin, New York Times: A Confederate General's Final Stand Divides Memphis

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Little Progress, Some Retrenchment in TV, Radio News

"The latest RTDNA/Hofstra University Annual Survey finds the minority workforce in TV news slid 0.2 to 22.2%… still the third highest level ever," Bob Papper wrote Monday for the Radio Television Digital News Association. "And the minority workforce at non-Hispanic TV stations rose this year to the third highest level ever as well.

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"The minority workforce in radio fell back from last year's high," continued Papper, who is emeritus distinguished professor of journalism at Hofstra University and conducts annual surveys for RTDNA.

"In TV, women news directors and women in the workforce both rose to the highest levels ever. The picture for women in radio news was more mixed.

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"Still, as far as minorities are concerned, the bigger picture remains unchanged. In the last 25 years, the minority population in the U.S. has risen 11.5 points; but the minority workforce in TV news is up less than half that (4.4), and the minority workforce in radio is actually down by a full point. . . ."

Papper also wrote, "After three years of growth in 2009, 2010 and 2011, the percentage of minority news directors at non-Hispanic stations fell for the fourth year in a row. Three years ago, 10.7% of TV news directors at non-Hispanic stations were minorities; two years ago that dropped to 9.5%; last year it fell to 8.6%; this year, it's down to 8.3%.

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"Half (4.2%) of those were African American — about the same as last year; 1.9% were Hispanic — down another 0.6 from a year ago; 1.9% were Asian American — up half a point; and 0.4% were Native American — exactly the same as a year ago. Three-quarters of the news directors at Hispanic stations were Hispanic; 18.2% were Caucasian, and 6.2% were African American.

"After four years of growth, the percentage of minority news directors in radio plunged by the biggest one-year fall I can remember: six and a half points. Every ethnic group went down, and Asian American disappeared. . . ."

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Dori Maynard Among 11 NABJ Hall of Fame Inductees

The National Association of Black Journalists Monday announced 11 inductees into its Hall of Fame, including Dori J. Maynard, the president of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education who died this year, and Jacqueline Trescott, former Style section writer for the Washington Post who directed the institute's Summer Program for Minority Journalists in 1982 and 1984, and worked several summers as an instructor.

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The ceremony is scheduled for Dec. 16 in Washington as part of NABJ's 40th Anniversary Gala. The inductees are:

"Tony Brown: Broadcast journalism legend, producer and host of 'Tony Brown's Journal,' the longest-running national Black-affairs TV series in history

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"Charles Gerald Fraser: New York Times journalism pioneer and inspirational mentor for generations of reporters

"Monica Kaufman Pearson: First African American and first woman to anchor a daily evening Atlanta television news broadcast

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"Dorothy Leavell: Chicago-based crusading force and voice of the Black Press in America

"Dori Maynard: President of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education and advocate for diversity in American journalism

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"Gil Noble: Producer and host of WABC-TV's iconic program, 'Like It Is'

"Austin Long-Scott: Integrated the Associated Press full-time reporting staff, powerful Washington Post and Los Angeles Times social justice writer and journalism educator

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"Jacqueline Trescott: Compelling and ground-breaking writer for the Washington Post on the cultural life and achievements of African Americans

"Morrie Turner: Creator of "Wee Pals", the first syndicated comic strip with racially and ethnically diverse characters

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"John H. White: Chicago's Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist and photojournalism educator

"L. Alex Wilson: Courageous reporter of the Civil Rights Movement for Sengstacke Newspapers in the 1950s. . ."

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21st Century Fox Gives Hampton U. $500K Challenge Grant

Hampton University's Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications announced a $500,000 Challenge Grant Friday from 21st Century Fox, which calls itself the world's leading portfolio of film and television brands.

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"The funds, which are conditional on the school raising a matching amount of $500,000, will support activities inside the Scripps Howard School's new Center for Innovation in Digital Media. Established through initial funding provided by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Center is designed to enable Hampton University students to learn about and explore new ways of gathering and distributing media content."

"This grant exemplifies 21st Century Fox's continuing mission to cultivate and nurture the next generation of storytellers on all platforms," Julie Henderson, executive vice president and chief communications officer of 21st Century Fox, said in the announcement.

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"The invaluable work done by Hampton's Center for Innovation in Digital Media underscores the need to empower young people with the necessary tools to realize their dreams within the creative industries, and we are immensely proud to be a part of that process."

The announcement also said, "The grant will cover, among other initiatives, digital media projects by students, which include producing research, business plans, media products such as apps, and also assist in placing graduates in digital media jobs."

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Lewis Diuguid, Kansas City Star: Journalism academy helps prepare students for college and careers in the news media (July 14)

Arielle Samuelson, University of Southern California: USC Annenberg Summer Institute prioritizes the study of diversity

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Cosby Loses His Last Artistic Supporter, a Film Producer

"Now that everyone from his agents to Whoopi Goldberg has publicly distanced themselves from him, and with even more details coming to light via The New York TimesBill Cosby has lost what seems to be his last artistic supporter," Joanna Robinson reported Monday for Vanity Fair.

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"Nonie Robinson, the producer of Painted Down, a documentary about black stuntmen, told Deadline today they have cut Cosby loose.

"Back in November during the early stages of the controversy, Robinson remained loyal to Cosby, saying, 'It’s all very sad and I support Mr. Cosby, who has been nothing but generous, kind and a mentor to me working in this project. I've never experienced anything but kindness from Mr. Cosby.'

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"But the tide of public opinion has since shifted too far in the other direction, Robinson said. 'Cosby is no longer attached to the project. We were the last project standing behind him, but now with Whoopi [Goldberg] and CAA [Creative Artists Agency] pulling the plug, we must also disassociate and cut all ties with Cosby. It's the right thing to do in light of the recent court deposition being made public.' . . ."

Sydney Ember and Graham Bowley reported Sunday for the Times, 'Bill Cosby had a chef and a housekeeper, as well as pilots and a chauffeur.

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"But we may never know what they saw.

"Four days of deposition testimony from a decade ago show Mr. Cosby as an unapologetic philanderer in a calculated pursuit of young women.

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"But another detail to emerge from Mr. Cosby's deposition for a lawsuit by a young woman who accused him of drugging and molesting her was that some — though perhaps not all, it seems — of the domestic staff in his busy, celebrity-fueled life had signed confidentiality agreements.

"These powerful documents, demanding the highest secrecy, are common among superstars.

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"They protect against assistants with tales to tell — even after they have left their positions — or prying journalists willing to pay for information.

"But the apparent mismatch between Mr. Cosby's public image and his private life raises the question about whether he needed the agreements more than most. . . .'

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Graham Bowley and Sydney Ember, New York Times: Bill Cosby, in Deposition, Said Drugs and Fame Helped Him Seduce Women

Paul Farhi, Washington Post: Will Bill Cosby ever face prosecution over allegations of sexual misdeeds?

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DeWayne Wickham, USA Today: Cosby, answer the question (July 13)

Few Latinos on Sunday Shows Talk Non-Immigration Issues

"A new Media Matters report on the 'single issue syndrome' found that Spanish-language Sunday shows continue to devote considerable attention to immigration at the apparent expense of issues equally important to the Latino community," Cristina Lopez and Jessica Torres reported Monday for Media Matters for America.

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"In addition, although Latinos make up more than 17 percent of the U.S. population, only 4 percent of guests on English-language Sunday shows between January 4 and May 3, 2015 were Hispanic — a drop of 42 percent from their 2014 appearances over a similar time period.

Lopez and Torres also wrote, "During the first 18 weeks of 2015, 13 percent of the total 46 Hispanic guests who appeared on English-language Sunday shows participated in a discussion about U.S. immigration policy.

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"Despite the fact that high levels of Hispanics in the U.S. are uninsured, no Hispanic guests on the English-language Sunday shows participated in discussions about health care during the 2015 period studied.

"Only 9 percent talked about the economy, and just 4 percent discussed education. Because national polling shows that jobs and the economy are the top concern of 34 percent of Latinos, education is a priority for 21 percent, and health care is the most significant issue for 17 percent, Media Matters coded for these three topics only, in addition to immigration. . . . ."

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Why U.S. Blacks Should Explore Links With Afro-Cubans

"On a small cut of land at the corner of 23rd Avenue and F Street in the Vedado section of this city stands a monument to two heroes of the Cuban people," DeWayne Wickham wrote Monday for The Root under the headline, "Why African Americans Should Be 1st in Line to Cuba." The piece, with a Havana dateline, appeared on the day Cuba officially opened an embassy in Washington, and the United States did the same in Havana. 

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"But the faces carved into the imposing marble-and-granite structure are not those of Fidel Castro and Ernesto 'Che' Guevara, icons of the left-wing revolution that chased the right-wing dictator Fulgencio Batista from power and spawned a U.S. economic embargo of this Caribbean island nation that is older than most Americans," Wickham continued.

"On the side of the monument that looks out onto 23rd Avenue — a wide thoroughfare that stretches across this city from the Almendares River to the Bay of Havana — is the image of Martin Luther King Jr. On its other side, the monument bears the likeness of Malcolm X. . . ."

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Wickham, USA Today columnist and dean of Morgan State University's School of Global Journalism and Communication, has been taking black journalists to visit and report on Cuba for years.

He continued, "African Americans should go to Cuba because the link between Afro-Cubans and African Americans is much deeper than the 23rd Street monument. Like the Martin Luther King Center and Ebenezer Baptist Church that sit side by side in Havana's Marianao district, the monument is a symbol of the rich historical ties that bind people of African descent in Cuba to those whose ancestors slave ships dropped off in North America.

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"There is much more that connects us to them.

"In 1896, the same year the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Plessy v. Ferguson that racial segregation was legal, Cuba was fighting for its independence from Spain with an integrated army. The second-in-command of this interracial force was Antonio Maceo, a black man. . . ."

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Cornel West Tries Again in Critiquing Ta-Nehisi Coates

Cornel West returned to Facebook on Monday after his critique of Atlantic magazine writer Ta-Nehisi Coates' new book "Between the World and Me" was denounced as ill-informed, perhaps the product of jealousy and a continuation of a vendetta against President Obama.

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West wrote Monday:

"My response to Brother Ta-Nehisi's new book should not be misunderstood. I simply tried to honestly evaluate the book at the level of Truth, Goodness and Beauty.

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"Since I believe there will never be another Baldwin — just as there will never be another Coltrane, Morrison, Du Bois, Simone [as in Nina], Robeson or Rakim — the coronation of Coates as Baldwin is wrong.

"His immense talents and gifts lie elsewhere and lead to different priorities. He indeed tells crucial truths about the vicious legacy of white supremacy as plunder on a visceral level, yet he fails to focus on our collective fightback, social movements or political hope. Even his fine essays downplay people's insurgency and resistance.

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"The full truth of white supremacy must include our historic struggles against it. His critical comments in his essays about the respectability politics or paternalistic speeches of the black president in power (absent in his book) do not constitute a critique of the presidency — pro-Wall Street policy as capitalist wealth inequality, drone policy as U.S. war crimes, massive surveillance as violation of rights, or defense of ugly Israeli occupation as immoral domination.

"For example, none of the black or white neo-liberals who coronate Coates say that 500 Palestinian babies killed by U.S. supported Israeli forces in 50 days or U.S. drones killing over 200 babies are crimes against humanity. Yet they cry crocodile tears when black folk are murdered by U.S. police. Unlike Baldwin, Coates gives them this hypocritical way out — with no cost to pay, risk to take, or threat to their privilege because of his political silence on these issues.

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"I love Coates' obsession with Baldwin's beautiful prose, and Coates does have beautiful moments too. Baldwin's beauty is profoundly soulful, wise and eager to inspire others. Coates' beauty is deliberately nerdy, smart and draws attention to itself. Hence, Coates' obsession with beauty weakens the Baldwin-like truths of resistance to be told or the Baldwin-like goodness tied to social hope.

"Like a Blues man or Jazz woman, Baldwin offers his whole blood-drenched and tear-soaked soul in words and sounds to an incomplete world, whereas Coates offers his well-crafted words with a sad spectatorial self to a doomed world. In this Age of Ferguson, we indeed need different voices, yet the most needful voices should be Baldwin-like all the way down and all the way LIVE!"

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Short Takes

"Clearly we have racial issues, but I think more than that, we have issues of poverty (video)," Lester Holt, anchor of "NBC Nightly News," told Devin Scillian, host of WDIV-TV's "Flashpoint" in Detroit on Thursday. Holt is visiting NBC affiliates. "Clearly we have racial issues," Holt continued, "but I think more than that we have issues of poverty. I think if you peel back a lot of the things that we have seen, poverty is at the root. That's the struggle." Holt was also interviewed by Detroit Free Press columnist Rochelle Riley.

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"The Twitter hashtag is both heart-wrenching and haunting: #IfIDieInPoliceCustody," the Dallas Morning News editorialized on Monday. "Coast to coast, African-Americans are tweeting directives regarding what to do 'if I die in police custody.' Some simply say 'ask every question.' Today we add our own voice, as we request the speedy release of information in the events leading up to the death of 28-year-old Sandra Bland, whose minor traffic stop in southeast Texas somehow escalated into an alleged suicide in a jail cell three days later. . . ."

"Controversial Sacramento News & Review caricatures of Mayor Kevin Johnson drew further criticism Thursday from civil rights leaders and prominent members of the black community as the local chapter of the NAACP held a news conference to demand an apology from the weekly paper," Marissa Lang reported Thursday for the Sacramento Bee. "The July 9 issue featured a cover drawing of Johnson with an astonished look, furrowed brow and sweat dripping from his forehead; an inside page depicted six head shots of the mayor in a similar fashion. The News & Review devoted much of the issue to Johnson's lawsuit against the publication and the city to prevent the release of emails between the mayor and his private attorney. . . ."

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'What would Eva Chen do next?' was the question many in the fashion industry asked when Chen, Lucky magazine's editor-in-chief resigned from her post earlier this year,David Yi reported Friday for Mashable. "Now we know: Chen is joining Instagram at the end of July as its head of fashion partnerships, officially extending the social media platform's reach to designers and brands — many of which she already identifies in a popular stream of Instagrams of shoes, handbags and facial-care products . . ."

"The Charleston Gazette and Charleston Daily Mail have been your local source for news for more than a century," the West Virginia newspapers said on Sunday. "The two newspapers operated independently for readers and advertisers until Jan. 1, 1958, when the owners merged the business, advertising, circulation and production departments into a single corporation. Beginning today, the two newspapers are combining newsroom functions with the exception of editorial page content. Welcome to the Charleston Gazette-Mail. . . ."

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"Dr. George Daniels, an associate professor of journalism at The University of Alabama, has been named recipient of the 2015 Robert P. Knight Multicultural Recruitment Award, the university announced Monday. "The award, which has been presented annually since 1987 by the Scholastic Journalism Division of the Association of Educators in Journalism and Mass Communication, or AEJMC, recognizes an individual or organization that has made significant contributions to promoting diversity in scholastic media programs. . . ."

"Rupert Murdoch's organisation had a moral duty to pay the legal costs for Sun reporter Anthony France. But it refused to do so," Roy Greenslade wrote Friday for Britain's Guardian. "Instead, members of the public and plenty of journalists responded to a crowdfunding appeal and raised the cash in less than six hours. France, a crime reporter, was the first Sun journalist to be found guilty over payments to a public official in the wake of the Operation Elveden police investigation. He was convicted in May of aiding and abetting a police officer to commit misconduct in a public office by paying him for stories. He received an 18-month suspended sentence. . . ."

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The International Women's Media Foundation is announcing its first reporting trip to the Central African Republic. "Six women journalists will have the opportunity to travel with the IWMF to report on themes of civil society, governance and humanitarian issues from November 2-17, 2015. The online application for this fellowship will be open through August 12, 2015. . . ."

As President Obama prepares for a trip to Kenya, the Committee to Protect Journalists released "Broken promises: How Kenya is failing to uphold its commitment to a free press," by Sue Valentine and Tom Rhodes. CPJ said, "Kenya's constitution guarantees freedom of the media, but President Uhuru Kenyatta's Jubilee coalition has introduced several bills that undermine rather than enforce that principle. Journalists are vulnerable to legal harassment, threats, or attack, while news outlets are manipulated by advertisers or politician-owners. The deteriorating climate comes at a crucial time for Kenya's democracy, security, and economy. . . ."

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In Nigeria, "National Broadcasting Commission, NBC on Friday said it has 'neutralised' illegal broadcasts from Biafra Radio which it said has 'shattered' the peace of south east zone of Nigeria with hate and seditious messages, " Levinus Nwabughiogu wrote Sunday for the Vanguard newspaper. "It added that it had equally arrested its operators and confiscated many of their transmitters in various locations. . . ."

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