So not only did you teach me about writing memoir, you also taught me about reading and thinking about how others write memoir. Thank you so much! Rebecca
Showing posts with label Graham Star. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Graham Star. Show all posts

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Political Correctness Gone Wild

This post is by Roger Carlton, columnist for the Graham Star newspaper in Robbinsville, NC
This column launches headlong into an important and controversial subject. One that is red hot now as it should be. The subject is the removal of symbols, statuary, memorials, flags, street names and many other "honoraries" to people whose principles and deeds in their time have grown to become offensive in our time. A key example is the current debate over the Confederate flag being a portion of the Mississippi state flag. That will soon come to an end just like it did in South Carolina after the mass murder which took place in an African American church five years ago last week. Good riddance to that symbol which has lost It’s meaning as a symbol of the Confederacy and has come to represent a hateful defiance of the rights of African Americans to be treated equally under the law.

Taking symbols yet another step, the Black Lives Matter demonstrations both peaceful and riotous, have brought to the fore the destruction or voluntary removal of hundreds of statues and monuments to Confederate heroes. Recognizing that the fervor on both sides of the removal issue is at a fever pitch, it is best that our elected leaders decide to remove the statues before they are destroyed. We are making a mistake to simply take these memorials out of harm's way.

There needs to be a plan to place the statues in a museum that explains to future generations how our democracy nearly broke up over the issues that these statues commemorate so that we can learn from the mistakes of the past. To obliterate history is to enhance the probability of repeating our mistakes.

The National Museum of African American History in Washington D.C. displays slave shackles and other artifacts of slavery. The museum tells the story of the horrors of slavery. It also tells the story of the many accomplishments of the descendants of the slaves. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum uses the Nazi Swastika to symbolize the horrors of the Holocaust. The displays of belongings of people who died in the gas chambers are powerful. So powerful that a warning is given to parents to prepare their children regarding what they are about to see. 

Now we move from sensitive preservation of history in a proper context to political correctness gone wild. The Board of Trustees of prestigious Ivy League Princeton University just decided to remove President Woodrow Wilson's name from its School of Public and International Affairs and a residence hall. Woodrow Wilson had been the President of Princeton, the Governor of New Jersey where it is located and the two-term 28th President of the United States. He was accused of 'racist thinking and policies" which made him an "inappropriate name sake." 

Let's acknowledge that his administration should have done a better job of controlling a racist U.S. Civil Service Commission. The agency's director should have been fired and better treatment of African Americans in government should have been a priority. Of this, there is no question. The real question is why do we go to college? To learn the good, the bad and the ugly. To be able to discern good from evil. Princeton's Board, comprised of entirely Princeton graduates, seems to have forgotten that its students should be allowed to decide what kind of leader Woodrow Wilson was.

But here is the "but." Woodrow Wilson was the President who led us through World War I. He pushed hard to establish the League of Nations which might have helped to avoid World War II if it had not been killed by the Senate. He negotiated the Treaty of Versailles which ended the war. For this he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. He appointed Louis Brandeis to the Supreme Court and he oversaw the creation of the Federal Reserve Act which established the U.S. Central Bank which has been the bulwark of protecting monetary policy from political interference.

In balance, his accomplishments greatly exceed his weaknesses. You can say the same for John D. Rockefeller, Henry Ford, Charles Lindbergh, Andrew Carnegie, Joseph Kennedy and many others. They all had character flaws and none were perfect. We need to understand their mistakes and applaud their philanthropic generosity. President Wilson suffered a stroke which made it very difficult for him to function for the last two years of his term. It was a different time and he remained the titular head of government. He passed away three years after the end of his second term. To erase his name from a university he served with distinction and an institution that trains future government leaders for the entire world just goes too far. It is political correctness gone wild.

Appeasement is not progress. It is a momentary victory for the aggrieved. It allows the history police to say "we hear you," but, it does not solve problems and set new paradigms for future respectful relations between the races. My ten-year old grand-daughter Claire, wanted to read this column. She had great wisdom when she said, "I don't understand why they want to erase Wilson's name and no-one wants to take those other names away." Maybe she should be on the board of Princeton.

Friday, June 26, 2020

A Little Humor in the midst of Chaos

Roger Carlton, columnist for the Graham Star newspaper in Robbinsville, NC

My name is Rolla Teepee. My life began in Brazil where melaleuca trees grow in abundance in an area formerly known as the Amazon Rain Forest. Pulpwood made from the trees is abundant because my parents grow nearly 100 feet in seven years. This is far faster than the growth rate of evergreen and hardwood trees used for other types of paper products. To the best of my knowledge the tariff wars with Brazil have not yet reached my parents emigration level.

My parents emigrated from Brazil and entered the United States legally. They were rather expensive with their costs being nearly $500 per ton. The machines that convert the pulp from a swirling mess to such TP brands as Cottonelle and Charmin cost $300 million each. The metamorphosis process from pulp to TP is owned by a few companies like Kimberly Clark and Proctor & Gamble. 

One of these mega companies created my family of 24 mega rolls in a mega pack. We were very happy to be sent to a shelf in a mega store called Walmart. We might have gone to another mega mega store called Costco or a mega mega mega fulfilment house called Amazon but that didn't happen. These stores use a fancy technique to move my family from the $300 million machine to the store shelf. That technique is called supply chain management in general and just-in-time manufacturing specifically. This means that large space-using products with single-ply margins need to be delivered quickly and frequently and not waste warehouse or shelf space.

In normal times supply chain and just-in-time management work very well. When hurricanes form near Africa and breathless weathercasters warn of imminent doom along the entire east coast of the United States, people have TP panic and rush out to buy a year's supply. When a pandemic happens and people are using TP at home rather than work or restaurants, the TP pipeline clogs up and nothing can clear the blockage. The only event that will clear the constipated system is the end of the panic.

My family mega package was put on the shelf after the panic began with its 700 percent increase in TP sales. Our shelf life was less than three seconds. In fact, some end users fought over us and the flimsy plastic walls of our home were nearly ripped apart. Thank goodness we made it to a home and joined three other mega package families. So, we had a TP village and our panic caused shortage seemed wiped away. 

But all good things have an end. Slowly but surely 23 members of my family were plucked from the package where we lived and skewered on a roller. This process is called ICE which stands for Intestinal Chafing Experience. How cruel. Maybe someday, someone will tell the rest of this story when space limitations allow. 

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Morality, Murder and A Miracle

Roger Carlton, columnist for the Graham Starr newspaper, Robbinsville, NC

May 31, 2020
What a week this has been. Let's start with the morality of the South Bay Pentecostal Church in Chula Vista, California deciding to defy reasonable limitations on their assembly. The church argued that limitations placed by California Governor Newsom were unfair because other secular places such as factories and supermarkets were not subject to the limitations imposed on the church. The US Supreme Court decided the issue in favor of the Governor on a 5/4 vote with Chief Justice John Roberts breaking the tie.

Chief Justice Roberts' opinion was based on his belief that matters of limiting the right to assemble in a COVID emergency were best left to politicians and administrators in each locality.

Roberts wrote, "The precise question of when restrictions on particular activities should be lifted during the pandemic is a dynamic and fact intensive matter subject to reasonable disagreement."

So, what appears to be a liberal decision by a conservative Supreme Court Justice is really a conservative decision that clearly favors limiting the powers of the court to intervene. This is an important nuance especially in Graham County. There are more than 40 churches in Graham County. That is a large number for a small population. Our folks need their ability to attend church in the normal manner. There is a renewal process that goes on in a religious service. To many, it is sorely needed in these difficult times. The morality of social distancing, mask wearing and caution is so clear while the loss of individual rights is so minute in relation. Thanks to Justice Roberts for breaking the tie and doing the right thing. Let's all respect the temporary rules as affirmed by the Supreme Court.

Murder is wrong.

We all know that. When the alleged murder happens at the hands of a police officer, the right and wrong of the situation becomes much more complex. First, a few facts. There are 800,000 sworn law enforcement officers in the United States. Since the first recorded police death in 1786, there have been more than 22,000 officers killed in the line of duty. There were 135 law enforcement officers killed in 2019 and 1627 in the past ten years. That is an average of one officer killed every 54 hours. This a tough and risky job without even considering the many injuries that occur while on duty. We should not forget that police officers and fire/rescue personnel are our first line of defense against the anarchy we all fear and are currently experiencing,

This does not mean that law enforcement officials can do no wrong. In fact, the pressures of the job, the need to make split second life and death decisions and the growing distrust and disrespect for the uniform cry out for more training in how to de-escalate situations and more transparency in how excessive use of force situations are investigated and resolved. The US Department of Justice provides a Community Relations Service to mediate local issues and deal with hate crimes. Its budget has been drastically cut.

There is searing pain and anger over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
There are honest people who want to peacefully protest and there are people who take advantage of this anger to loot in the guise of protest. Washington, state capitols and local leaders need to develop programs to reduce tension and provide positive channels of communication. It is appalling that the White House pours gasoline on these conflicts with comments like "when the looting starts, the shooting starts." This phrase has a racially charged history dating back to the civil rights protests. The excuse of not knowing the history of the phrase only speaks to not using it.

On a positive note, the successful launch of Elon Musk's Space X rocket in partnership with NASA returning launch capability to Cape Kennedy is nothing short of a miracle. During my career with Lockheed Martin, I was blessed with a tour of the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) where a shuttle was undergoing the 60-day turn-around process and an elevator ride up the tower where a shuttle would soon be launched. It was a defining moment to see what could be done when a message of hope and challenge comes from Washington and we all pull together. Frankly, it broke my heart when President Obama killed the shuttle program and we started paying the Russians nearly $90 million each time to launch our astronauts into space.

Right now, we seem to be sinking into a Sarlaccian abyss that threatens everything we hold dear. What comes to mind is Dante's Inferno and a group of politicians and bureaucrats casting about trying to emerge from a never-ending hellish fire pit. Come on folks. We expect our leaders to lead. We expect our leaders to put out fires. We expect our police to be guardians. We will survive until November when it will be possible to change course.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Viral and veracity are very different words.

This post by Roger Carlton, columnist for the Graham Star newspaper in Robbinsville, NC. 

Don't get your dander up. This column is about the Roe in Roe v. Wade who recently passed away. 

The column does not take a position on the issue. That is for each of us to decide and for the courts to resolve in a civilized society that believes in the Rule of Law. What this column is about is the manner in which advocacy groups use and abuse the power of traditional and social media to make their case. 

Jane Roe's real name was Norma McCorvey. She was an abused child who spent years in a Texas reform school.  Her first child was born out of wedlock and raised upon court order by her mother. She wanted to terminate her second pregnancy. Rather than go to an abortion mill, she told her doctor that she had been raped in an attempt to have an abortion in Texas where the procedure was illegal. She was denied.

Two young lawyers, Sarah Weddington and Linda Coffee, took up her cause. They chose her to make the test case because she could not afford to travel to a state where the procedure was legal and because of her very difficult and sympathetic personal history. The Wade in Roe v. Wade was Dallas District Attorney Henry Wade. 

Norma signed the affidavit to file the case in March 1970 more than 50 years ago. The U.S. Supreme Court found in her favor in 1973 which was long after the baby was born and given up for adoption. So the plaintiff in this case never had the abortion she sought.

Many years later, Norma McCorvey went public in a giant media splash and said that she no longer believed that a woman should have the right to choose. She became the poster child for the Reverend Randall Terry and his Operation Rescue. She was their Oscar winning spokesperson. Norma knew she was being used and was a willing player because she was paid $456,911 as documented in IRS required annual reports for non-profits. These payments are called benevolence gifts.

The pro-choice movement was devastated. They had largely deserted Norma after the case was resolved because she wasn't pretty enough, said what she thought sometimes profanely and had a sordid reputation. Actresses and other spokespeople just played better in the court of public opinion and in the eyes of the media. Norma really resented this.

No story is over till its over. Nearing death, Norma recanted. She said that her change of mind was not what she truly believed. She said "Sometimes women just make mistakes." The media splash this time was not nearly as great, most likely due to the focus on Covid 19 and embarrassment over being duped.  She really believed that reversing Roe v. Wade would cause unthinkable chaos. That conclusion will become clearer as the many state Supreme Court cases are joined and wend their way to the U.S. Supreme Court.  

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Photo by Roger Carlton

Located on Lake Santeetlah facing south across the the lake using my Apple I-Phone 7. The time was around  6:30 am and the shot lasted for less than 10 minutes. The early bird catches the best image.


Roger Carlton is columnist for Graham Star newspaper. He was once a writing student of mine. He has developed a great eye for photography. I believe this view is from his lovely home on Lake Santeetlah in western North Carolina.

Roger says the Graham Star is using some of his photos on the front page of the newspaper. Who says life can't get better after retirement? Roger has found a new calling with writing and photography. He spent his working years in city management. We are happy to have him as part of Writers' Circle around the Table.