Never, not in my wildest dreams, would I have suspected I would be labeled as a white supremacist or a racist. Nothing could be any further from the truth, but after I criticized a fear monger on Monday who tried to pin the Charlottesville debacle on the President, the haters are trying to pull me down into the “Legion of the Miserable.”
By 4 o’clock Monday afternoon I had received 11 derogatory emails, as compared to 17 who claimed they agreed with Monday's story, and hundreds of ‘likes’ on Facebook.
As I usually do, I wrote to those offended by my words and thanked them, ever mindful my critics are my favorite teachers.
Publicly it has been my style to ignore critics and their threats. I’ve been told over 100 times – easily – somebody was coming to kill me and nobody’s ever showed up. People like and dislike my stories all the time and I love that – what would it be if all of us thought alike? But one email Monday snagged me. It was from a black man, Scott Lindsey, who I befriended some 25 years ago, and here’s his heart that he shared with me, as well as my response and my apology to anyone who was offended:
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“Roy, I think you should do what Trump did "today" and disavow and denounce the Klu Klux Klan and all racist groups. You may not be aware of this but your column is circulating throughout Facebook by a lot of members of the African-American community … statewide, dare I say region-wide … and they are saying that you have outed yourself as a white supremacist.
“As none of us know how many days we will be on this Earth, I would hate for your legacy, because of this one article, be that you are a racist. Perhaps you don't care what your legacy is? Maybe I shouldn't care what your legacy is.
“I recall when I was in my 20s, and just starting my career, and started wearing "grown up clothes", I started doing business with Gordon cleaners on McCallie Ave. I remember meeting you in Gordon's cleaners, this was back in the early 90s. I remember thinking I have arrived because I get my clothes done the same place Roy Exum gets his clothes done.
“As I have read your article today I'm thinking gosh I didn't know Roy Exum was a racist and a white supremacist. Or at least have sympathy for those people. It's like the guy I met in Gordon cleaners on occasion in the 90's probably thought less of me because I was a young black man? I am truly disappointed in your article.
“As a side note racism hatred of other races and bigotry is not mutually exclusive to conservatives. There are liberal racists too.
“The focus should be on the eradication of racism the eradication of the Klu Klux Klan and other hate groups.
“I think your platform is more useful disavowing those groups.
“One day when you pass on and I hope that's a very long time from now. It would be nice if part of your legacy was "hey remember when Roy Exum aggressively came out against the Klu Klux Klan and all racial hatred groups? Remember that article? He was a good man that cared about all people."
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Wow. In my years as a writer, I have denounced and strongly opposed every aspect of racism, white supremacy and all other forms of hatred based on race, religion, sexuality, social standing or any other forms of degradation or belittlement. I have written reams of articles and columns and opinions and never, not once, have I ever given a hint of being a white supremacist. Not one person can show me otherwise and, as for the Klu Klux Klan, I have openly loathed such vermin every year of my life.
Not so fast … I have written that I am against tearing down monuments that are historical, based on my belief: “That was then, this is now.” I have accused the NAACP of racism because when you honor one race of Americans at the exclusion of all others that falls into my definition of racism. Others have different opinions. I’m fine with that.
Donald Trump was elected as the President of our nation. I feel certain some members of the new buzzword, “Alt-Right” voted for him, and feel just as many members of the “Alt-Left” voted for Hillary Clinton. I am neither, yet I voted for Trump while many of my closest friends – people I love far more than politics – voted for Mrs. Clinton. I don’t begrudge them at all, yet they chide me instead. Why?
What’s with this hate? I’m with Franklin Graham, the pastor who rightfully pins it on the devil. It is evil. And to eradicate evil it is going to take all of us to respect one another, not accuse an innocent with blatant lies when they voice an opinion about a Mayor turning his back on a weeping town to bolster his political agenda.
As the experts focus on what actually occurred in Charlottesville, I have no doubt whatsoever that the President of the United States will not be implicated in any possible way. Yet the Washington Post columnist on Sunday said Trump himself was striking the matches on the Tiki torches the haters bought at a season’s-end closeout at the Walmart. What kind of rubbish is that?
After Scott’s letter, I visited my Facebook page and – yes – there were some unkind and untruthful entries. My biggest take was that I had never seen “the F word” on Facebook, much less with my name associated with it, much less by three pretty girls all of whom were identified. Who ever thought that would happen in my lifetime?
I beg anyone who was offended or hurt by my story, “The Other Supremacist,” to please consider accepting my sincere and honest apology. In no way, seen or unseen, do I condone or in any other way racism or any other inhumane actions. When I read Scott Lindsey’s email I realized my efforts to scold a mayor for using a tragedy for his own self-aggrandizement had fallen short of my intentions.
With that … we move on. And, yes, I do care about all people.