Thursday, July 02, 2009

Last two columns now online

Several sharp readers have let me know that my columns weren't updating properly online -- when one showed up the last one disappeared, the comments were all mashed into one stack, dogs and cats living together, etc.

You will not be shocked to know that this was all my fault -- I wasn't putting the right codes on each column, so our computer system was reading every one as the same column. (It pains me to give our computer system a pass on this one because I'm pretty sure we have the most unnecessarily complicated computer system in history. You know those "Wallace and Gromit" movies where Wallace invents this enormous multilayered contraption to, you know, make scrambled eggs? Our computer system is like that. Except half the time you get a plate of chicken poop instead.)

Anyway, thanks to the brilliant Tony Lone Fight of our online staff, the two columns that vanished are back on my column page in their rightful place -- both the Mark Sanford column from last Thursday and my official comeback column from Sunday. The comments may or may not come back -- consider it a fresh chance to try again. My apologies if your comments ended up in the ether. I can barely get the eggs scrambled over here.


Vincenzo said...

The "ether" is a good place for most comments to be destined, especially my own.

Makes me suggest a Rube Goldbergesque theme for some future column fare.

Anonymous said...

I just returned from a two-week fishing trip in northern Canada, and heard a rumor that Michael Jackson died.

Is that true? Any chance that some TV or cable channel might have a 30-minute special about him?

Jesus said...


I just returned after a 2,000-year hiatus. I assure you that the fuss made over My works in the intervening time doesn't come close to matching the attention paid to MJ over the past week or so.

Robert said...

Great to have you back- I just read your review of the Attack on the USS Liberty. Good job. I remember that from when I was 13. I did a review on my blog about two or three weeks ago- around the anniversary of the incident that led to the seizure of the Pueblo about 8 months later. You can view it here;

Hope you take a look- and once again- welcome back!

Robert Williams
Concord, NC

Anonymous said...

Tommy, you asked upon your return for suggestions on topics you might address. How about devoting your blog to debunking America’s myths, especially the ones that journalists have had a hand in perpetuating? (No, that does not include you. We all like and admire you for your integrity as much as for your personality and writing style.)

But I saw another propagation of the Emmett Till “Wolf-Whistle Myth” today in the Charlotte Observer. The article, written by someone in the Associated Press, told of the Chicago-area cemetery scandal in which bodies were disinterred and their plots resold. Emmett Till was buried at that cemetery, although his grave was undisturbed. The writer mentioned that Till was lynched for “reportedly” whistling at a white woman back in the 1950s in Mississippi. At least the author used the word “reportedly”. I’ve seen national columnist George Will, among others appearing in the Observer, flat-out state that Till was “murdered for whistling at a white woman” as though that was the gospel truth. Not long ago, maybe while you were at Harvard, Mecklenburg County Commissioner George Dunlap said the same thing during an Observer interview regarding an alleged racial spat among the county board members.

Why don’t today’s journalists write truthfully “Emmett Till was lynched by two bigoted, ignorant, despicable rednecks whom most Southerners wish had never been born”? I don’t think anyone knows why his killers acted as they did, but please don’t insult my intelligence with your wolf-whistle theory.

A friend who was born and raised in the North told me years ago that when his father learned he would be transferred to North Carolina in the late 1950s, friends warned him that things were so dire down here that black men were shot merely for whistling at a white woman, maybe even just for looking at them. Obviously the inaccurate accounts of the horrible Till lynching, which was bemoaned by the vast majority Southerners and the rest of the nation, gave birth to that inaccurate view of this region. Yet it exists to this very day and negatively impacts the Sun Belt.

Emmett Till died a needless, unjustified and terrible death. More galling was the fact that an all-white jury acquitted his self-confessed murderers. But common sense tells me that while the real reason Till was lynched was indefensible, “whistling at a white woman” was likely not what incited his murderers. Let’s put on our thinking caps and reason this out, America, since the press certainly isn’t doing so.

Anonymous said...

Here's an article from a year or so ago that knocks the WW Myth:

"Two years ago the media made much ado about the FBI’s reopened investigation into the lynching of 14-year-old Emmett Till. While visiting relatives, the Chicago youth was tortured and shot in Mississippi in 1955 by two white men later acquitted by an all-white jury. When a grand jury announced in 2007 that there was insufficient evidence to charge anyone else, the press buried the news.

To get all facets of the Till story, examine the January, 1956, Look article that brought national attention to this lynching, one of thousands in the Jim Crow era. You can find it at the PBS website by Googling for “Emmett Till killers confession”. It, too, has the lurid details of one of the greatest injustices of all time, but here’s the portion you haven’t been told:

Till, described by his uncle as a stocky, muscular boy, joined seven teenage cousins and a dozen other black youths on the porch of the Bryant store the evening of August 24, 1955. The boys talked about their prowess with girls. Emmett, said to be a cocky boy who liked being the center of attention, claimed he had a white girlfriend with whom he had success. The others taunted him and dared him to prove that by asking the white woman tending the store – 21-year-old, five-foot, 103-pound Carolyn Bryant - for a date.

Till didn’t back down, according to the article. He went inside to the counter to buy bubblegum, then grabbed and squeezed Carolyn’s hand when she presented his purchase. He allegedly called her “baby” and asked for a date. A terrified Carolyn tugged free and ran toward a back room, where sister-in-law Juanita Milam was watching their four young children. When she reached the break in the counter, Till jumped in front to stop her, - “perhaps”, the article claims, catching her by the waist - and then said some other inappropriate things.

His kin then intervened and pulled him outside with the intent of quickly leaving the store. Carolyn ran outside, too - to fetch a gun from the Milam car. It was then that Emmett, being ushered away, issued the wolf-whistle that gave the case its name.

Well, one doesn’t fetch a gun to fend off a mere wolf-whistle. Could it be that something matching the definition of simple assault caused someone to fear for her life? Also seems Till’s relatives might have been partially culpable not only for the incident, but for not getting him quickly out of Jim Crow Mississippi and harm’s way. That’s because Roy Bryant didn’t find out until several days later, and then from a black customer. His wife and Juanita Milam had commendably kept quiet.

And who wrote the Look article? Who interviewed the eyewitnesses? A lying, cross-burning bigot out to put a mitigating spin on a heinous, racist murder? No, he was prize-winning author, KKK combater and civil rights advocate William Bradford Huie, who went on to write tribute novels to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and to the three civil rights activists whose murders inspired the film “Mississippi Burning”.

Huie, disgusted with the wolf-whistle myth, said he wrote to bring out the truth. When one purposely omits facts, it doesn’t serve to further a cause. It just makes folks suspicious."