Rescuing Racists - And Response (10)

Thursday, August 24, 2017
I am a proud Chattanoogan. I was born in 1940, and as early as I can remember, I engaged in the culture of the South, waving the Confederate flag and singing Dixie—loudly. (What other way does a Southerner sing Dixie?) As a white male, raised on the site of the battle for Missionary Ridge, I fought the “grand” (and horrible) Civil War almost every day. I was always Robert E. Lee or Stonewall Jackson, and I always won. When my father told me at eight years of age that the South lost the battle for Missionary Ridge and the entire the Civil War, I was heart-broken.
I promised those “Yankees” that “the South would rise again.” As much as any eight-year-old boy can mean it, I did. At that age, I did not understand the degradation of slavery on black human beings or the devastation that slavery had placed for over 200 years on the moral standing of white Southerners. The ability of white people to quote Jesus Christ’s commandment to “love one another,” while abusing human beings with dark skins, shames me today. 

I was racist until the age of 20. In 1961, I experienced a life change when a black college student described the unequal treatment toward his uncles when they returned from WWII. They had fought a brutal war against Hitler, the murderer of millions, whose regime is still symbolized by the Nazi swastika. As I began to understand what these black American soldiers faced “coming home” in the American South, every lying vision I had believed of “separate but equal” was destroyed.

I am now 77 years old. I am aware of the cost of lives from WWII and of the hate Americans felt when they witnessed Japan’s flag of the rising sun and Hitler’s swastika. My loathing, especially for all things Nazi, is enormous. Yet today, groups of young white Americans wave the hated swastika, symbol of the most diabolical dictator ever to threaten the world, and they act as if that flag represents our country. 

I pity them for their lack of knowledge of the suffering and deaths the swastika caused millions of human beings, including tens of thousands of American soldiers. I pity the young white men who call themselves KKK or who use the Confederate flag as a rallying cry. My hope for these young neo-Nazis, KKK, and other white supremacists is that they will throw off their feelings of powerlessness and their hate for those whom they have made their scapegoats, and grasp the dream that America offers all people. 

I know some of what they feel, because, in my youthful ignorance, I experienced similar feelings of Southern inferiority. I felt the lack of power of the South versus the North, the Confederate versus the Union. Being defeated, we spewed hate because it made us feel more powerful. But I was a child. These are grown men waving the Confederate flag and Nazi swastika. As a recovering racist, I have a duty to reach out to other young racists to say to them that they do not have to hide their sense of inferiority by violence. I urge them to do as a young black man helped me do: to recognize goodness and humanity in persons who do not look like themselves. I know white supremacists who have had this total change of heart. 

We must also help these young men to understand that they are being encouraged by one elected to the White House whose extreme need to be all powerful makes him afraid to admit any weakness. He lies with every word he speaks in order to grasp power. Winning at all costs is the base of his lying. Truth or no truth does not matter; only reaching his own selfish goal matters. His despicable behavior towards anyone who does not bow and scrape before him ruins all opportunity to lead our country as a revered American president.

Hitler surrounded himself with maniacal sycophants and deviants, and he and they led Germany to a landscape of rubble and destruction. At first, rational persons did not have the courage to stand before Hitler and tell the truth. Toward the end, they did not have the power. Now is the time for all American patriots to say to Trump: “Enough! We do not accept your lies, your abuse, your tyranny. Because you cannot change, you must leave this position to which you have been unfortunately and mistakenly elevated. We will not—we must not allow this hate, this violence, this assault on our country.”
 
 Franklin McCallie

 

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wonder what news stations Mr. McCallie watches. 

 

I see exactly the opposite of what he says about Trump. 

 

Michael Mansfield

 

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Mr. Mansfield,

I don't see, after reading Mr. McCallie's very thoughtful opinion piece, that it had anything to do with what news stations Mr. McCallie watches.  It had everything to do with his 77 years of life experiences and lessons learned.  Something that the 71 year old man in the White House has definitely not learned.  I agree with everything Mr. McCallie had to say about President Trump.  He was right on, as a matter of fact.

Your response, however, said everything about what news station you watch.

Rebecca Gentry 

 

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I agree with much - but not all - of what Franklin McCallie had to say. However, I respect his life experience and his right to express his opinions. Mutual respect can work wonders with debate.
 
Carl Mark Barker

 

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Mr. Mansfield, this man lived it . He didn't see only what the news wanted him to. 

 
Rusty Chastain
 
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Mr. McCallie, sounds like a an objective man who can see reality.  I too am a proud 76-year-old born and raised Chattanoogan.

I agree with everything he says except the part about President Trump.  

This country was going in the wrong direction for the last eight years under the Obama administration.  I wish I could express myself better on what I could see happening to this country, and it's not good.

 I think millions of Americans must feel the same way I do to elect President Trump.  He is our salvation to bring this country back to greatness in this crucial point in time.

 I'm baffled that Mr. McCallie doesn't grasp the importance of someone like President Trump to lead our country.

Jim Rosenbloom 

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We absolutely do have a responsibility to stand up for people who have been abused – whether by the KKK, overzealous immigration officials or neo-nazis.  

My parents were of the Greatest Generation.  I wonder how my generation will be defined.  Is this our defining moment?  If so, count me among those who say, “Enough!  We do not accept your lies.”  Thank you, Mr. McCallie.  

Verneda Carrier 

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Mr. McCallie’s comments reflect my own views regarding racism.  In addition I would add that right now I am more concerned about the rise of  civil unrest at the hands of white supremacists and neo-Nazis than I ever was of a nuclear attack during the Cold War.  

During Obama’s two terms, I felt a steady hand at the helm with an absence of saber rattling, steered by a leader who knew and revered the Constitution.  

Randy Carrier 

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We are the children of the Greatest Generation.   Is what is happening now in the Age of Trump what our fathers, uncles, friends fought for in WWII?  No!  Mr. McCallie’s last paragraph is on point.  “Enough!  We do not accept your lies, your abuse, your tyranny…we must not allow this hate, this violence, this assault on our country.”     

Mary Hicks

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Franklin’s article should be titled “Ability to See Truth.”  I have heard the oral version of his conversion from “racist” to “enlightened” and the oral version had more of a Damascus Road quality.  What set of facts one person accepts as truth may be very different from what another person sees as truth from the same set of facts.  

The person in the White House certainly is not helping the racial problem and is most likely aggravating it. While the white supremacists are encouraged by POTUS; unfortunately, even without him, they will not simply disappear.  It seems to me that it will take a great deal more effort than “help these men understand”, in order to make disappearance happen.                

Jim Hicks 

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I, too, am a recovering racist.  It's hard not to be when one has grown up celebrating Confederate Memorial Day. We were marched from our elementary school, in Concord, N.C., to the Confederate Memorial monument in front of the courthouse. We probably sang "Dixie".

Unfortunately, President Trump is not recovering.   

Anne Curtis
Chattanooga


 




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