Category Archives: Civil Rights

Rainy Day Racists

It’s raining when I should be putting up more of Alanna Oswald’s and my lawnsigns. Oh well. I guess I’ll chew up a few minutes talking about something equally drenching. Racism today.

I would like to post the picture that the Girls Power group at Denfeld posted on their Facebook page. But with America being plunged into dark times by a President calling out Storm troopers to defend his larceny I don’t think pretending not to be paranoid would do any favors for the five young black women that David Kirby and I posed with last week after the meeting to discuss issues of poverty. If you can locate it on Facebook you will also find the silly video of me attempting to “floss.”

I’ve had two long standing acquaintances with whom I’ve been friendly suddenly reveal themselves to be fully released from PC constraints. In finding this freedom both have used the “N” word with me in their communications. In both cases I’ve told them if they can’t hold their fingers they should stop writing to me. They can’t resist taunting me despite this. I’ve taken to the unhelpful resort of taunting them back.

Today one of them sent me the letter he sent to an Iron Range news paper half-heartedly defending Pete Stauber. If you check the link you can discover his name which to date I’ve always kept anonymous. He also sent the email to the Duluth News Tribune’s editor Chuck Frederick. I sent my old acquaintance a terse reply and sent it to Chuck too. I know Chuck is open and honest about the tenterhooks Black Americans live every day. We both had roles in a short video used to promote a movie about Duluth’s 1920 lynching. I got the bigger role in the video’s seven minutes. The movie was to be called “Hatestorm.”

Here’s our work: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1nwIgkYzM_Ur0QkC5yfaFcWoYcWbcMhFx/view

Anyhoo.

Here’s the link to my acquaintance’s letter to the Hibbing paper lamely defending Pete Stauber:

https://www.hibbingmn.com/opinion/letters/stauber-voting-for-rural-way-of-life/article_37338eea-e645-11e9-a31c-67dacb170996.html?utm_medium=social&utm_source=email&utm_campaign=user-share
And here’s my reply after considering my acquaintance’s defense of “big shot” lover, Pete Stauber:

*******,

Too bad that when you send me emails you can’t help but call Obama a “nigger” therefore sounding no more knowledgeable than this woman. As for Stauber being too arrogant to reply to letters from critics. I don’t think I agree with you. Stauber has all the franking privileges he needs to explain himself. I think ignoring his critics is simple cowardice.

Harry

George S. Robb Center for the study of the Great War

I haven’t figured out how to upload Facebook videos to my blog. This one came from the Historical Center named after my Grandfather. My Mom saw to it her maiden name became my middle name Harry Robb Welty. In response to the video I shared it with the following thoughts

After the Great War the largely white officer corps was happy to award white combatants medals for their heroics. And minority warriors? Not so much.

My Grandfather was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. He told his daughter Georganne, my Mother, that he thought it was “politics” that got him his award although his commendation makes clear he had certainly acted above and beyond the call of duty. Furthermore, he took pains for the rest of his life to make clear that the African Americans he commanded were every bit as brave, if not more so, than any other soldiers. One of them, about whom he reported extensively, is now also being reviewed carefully to see if he too should have been accorded more consideration for a higher honor, perhaps even the Medal of Honor.

Park College has taken my Grandfather’s view to heart. I can think of no higher tribute in these uncertain times than to look back and make amends for the past. Park College’s efforts are a national treasure

https://www.facebook.com/parkuniversity/videos/2323225397941172/?t=14

Think global but act local – Welty style

Were Republicans ever good?

I have never had any doubts about the answer to that question. And yet in my life I’ve been aware of criticisms of Republicans over the course of their history from Democrats. Ironically, for a lot of those Democrats they made use of the old saying “If you can’t beat them, join them.” So successful has this practice become that ex dems and their descendants have not only joined the Republican Party but purged it of the original Republicans to make it the party they wanted all along – The Party of Trump. And Ironically, a lot of the Republicans that made the GOP the Trumplican party didn’t mean for it to go so far. They didn’t want to abandon free trade agreements. Some of them even truly felt bad about a growing national debt. Many of these Republicans were keeping an eagle eye on the Russians even after the fall of Russia’s communism.

The faithfulness of these former ideologues is shown by their hasty and pusillanimous surrender to a man they knew to be a clown. As ideologues they worship ideas but not good ideas. No they worship election winning ideas. Ideas like nativism, skin color supremacism, and hatred of academic curiosity and any evidence that their ideas are faulty. Many of them were started out as Never-Trumpers. For the past two years the Never-Trumpers have been hiding in the pro-Trump crowd. Next year, if as seems likely Trump gas a great fall like Humpty Dumpty, they will camouflage the yellow stripes running up their backs and adopt some new color; probably the standard issue red, white and blue of their deeply patriotic lapel pins. They have been worthy imitators of Vichy for the past couple years.

For the past several months I’ve been working on a book related to public education and more specifically the Duluth Public Schools. But every day a tweet storm reminds me of the reason I filed for Congress against Pete Stauber last year. Our nation is threatened by an empty huckster who expected to lose the Presidency and turn his defeat into a massive effort to start his own news Trump television Network by caterwauling that he had been robbed of victory. For the last four years I’ve comforted myself with the obvious ignorance of this man. Just today the man who has a $150 million mansion on Florida’s Hurricane coast said he’d never heard of a category 5 hurricane. This man who brags of his brilliance like the Kingfish of Amos and Andy doesn’t know, and has never known squat. He’s Kingfish a jackass that seventy years ago working class white people recognized as a fool. Who put the scales over their eyes?

If America was ever to fall to a tyrant who could have expected it to be such a loon? We have been lucky in our choice. It wasn’t Aaron Burr. It wasn’t William Randolph Hearst. It wasn’t Huey B. Long. It was “The Donald.”

If I fulfill my promise to my donors and finish the book about public schools (win, lose or draw) I hope I write the other book that’s been trying to distract me from the former. It will be a book that attempts to answer the question posed at the beginning of this post. The answer is “Yes.” Next question. How did Donald Trump ever eclipse Abraham Lincoln and make America the world’s laughing stock instead of the “shining city on a hill?”

BTW – I don’t think Donald every grew up enough to shake Amos and Andy out of is ever adolescent head. That may explain why he wants to lead his chosen white people to his Aryan heaven of gold towers. All the better to milk them.

Here’s that book that standing in the way of my writing a book about the fall of the Party of Lincoln. Please put in an order and force me to finish writing it for you. I think you will like it almost as much as most locals like my snow sculptures.





Ripping the skin off racism

There is a fierce debate about whether Americans are still racists. The worst black harassing President since Woodrow Wilson (who kicked Blacks out of the civil service), Donald Trump, (who kept blacks out of his apartment buildings) says he’s the least racist Person in America.

I’ll give Trump credit for one thing. His elevation to the Oval Office has shown how profoundly ignorant America is about its shitty treatment of black Americans over the last 20 generations.

Not withstanding our nation’s remarkable election of the half-white Barack Obama in 2008 Trump has ripped the scab off our long simmering anti-black infection.

It continues today everywhere including in Duluth’s Public Schools. I won’t bring an end to it but as one of the few white children actually affected by Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education I will be damned if I will let my experience be wasted.

The New York Times has been publishing a fantastically clear eyed series of histories about how we got to this improved but still rancid state over the last 400 years.

This story about our vile criminal justice system that non-racist, Donald Trump, sent 5 more innocent black kids into is well worth the read for anyone willing to take the scales off their eyes.

American Prisons Owe Their Cruelty to Slavery

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/08/14/magazine/prison-industrial-complex-slavery-racism.html

Good Riddance to Lake Calhoun

Minneapolitians were divided about the renaming of long-standing Lake Calhoun into Bde Maka Ska. I doubt that many Minnesotans even knew who John C. Calhoun was or why anyone would object to his name being affixed to one of Minneapolis’s many pretty lakes. The answer is spelled out in one one of the New York Times marvelous histories concerning 2019’s 400 anniversary of the beginning of slavery in the United States. When they are finished I hope they publish the collection as a book.

Here’s the villain himself:

I’m intrigued that he looks every bit as grim as his polar political opposite John Brown whose Kansas State Capitol Mural I googled yesterday. That link is to a Christian Science Monitor story about the painter John Steurt Curry.

2019-08-19_08-48-06

When my Mother was a girl the mural was being painted in the capitol building. Brown was “reaping the whirlwind” that John C. Calhoun had sown in poisoning the call to equality in the Declaration of Independence. Or to loosely paraphrase George Orwell. “All animals are equal but slaveholders are more equal than others.”

There is a reason this blog is called Lincolndemocrat. When I named it I was about to throw in the towel to the quasi-fascists that had taken over the GOP to fashion a new Jim Crow run by rural white Americans. The spirit of the Republican Party had been stripped from Abe Lincoln and handed to the architect of the anti-democratic South, John C. Calhoun.

I highly recommend this installment of the New York Times coverage of the 400th Anniversary of oppression against funny colored people by pink people:

What the Reactionary Politics of 2019 Owe to the Politics of Slavery https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/08/14/magazine/republicans-racism-african-americans.html

Still in a holding pattern

One of my recent contributors sent me this post-it note with his donation qualifying him for a book he really nay not have any interest in. However, he has been with me since our School Board showed the town they knew better than the town did how to fix up our schools.

Today I craved a little escape from campaigning. My fundraising letter will take a week longer than I hoped to get organized. Next week I hope. In any event that’s still a long way from the November election and closer to the beginning of the school year when people start paying attention to a school board race. So I read not quite half way through the Book about the 1919 Race Riots: Red Summer. These riots were mostly white riots in black neighborhoods. My Grandfather was recuperating from his wounds from The First World War and White Americans were aggrieved that black soldiers, like those my Grandfather commanded, were coming home thinking they were heroes and worse yet men. This was one year before Duluth’s infamous lynching.

Something I read in the book reminded me of yet another book about black mistreatment that I’ve had unread on my shelves for several years Slavery by Another Name. I rousted it out of my book shelf to look something up in it. I have a book from most American Eras from the Civil War on covering how badly blacks were mistreated almost up to the present and the white anxiety that some crazy black people are still asking for reparations.

Slavery by …” is about the time just before World War I. Like Red Summer it has some harrowing tales. The book chronicles the sixty years after the Civil War when the South treated unlucky black man once again as slaves hiring them out for the worst work possible for virtually no recompense while they served jail terms for phony crimes. It would lead to an exodus of blacks from the South to the few square miles they were allotted in big northern Cities. Still, unlucky blacks were sold to White farmers who thought nothing of chaining them up while they were in their “employ.” One such story was about a prominent farmer who was visited by federal agents tasked with making sure blacks were not kept as slaves or in the euphemism of the age “peonage.” At the time the farmer had a dozen such men working for him and when the agents chatted with them they said nothing lest they face the wrath of the farmer. The Agents were satisfied that all was well enough but the rich farmer made the mistake of asking them what they were looking for. When they spelled out what the law forbade the farmer realized he had violated the law. Not realizing that the two agents were happy to leave well enough alone the farmer decided to get rid of the evidence. That was one of the tricks of slavers persued across the sea by the British nave. They simply tossed dozens of humans chained together overboard to the sharks that followed their vessels like so much chum. When the British Navy caught them there was no more evidence.

So the Farmer murdered his dozen workers over the next couple days to be sure there was no evidence. This worked until some weeks later a dozen corpses floated up from lakes they had been disposed in. This sudden profussion of murder caught the federal agents attention and the happy ending was the imprisonment of the well to do civic leader.

A year after I moved to Minnesota my only real friend, Jim, introduced me to a young man just back from the army. Jim knew I had gone to school with “colored Kids” and knew I was on their side. He knew that this kid back from the military was not on their side. Jim introduced me to see what would happen. I said some nice things about the black kids I had known and the white kids said roughly this. “I used to be on their side but the Army cured me of that. They were nasty awful people and didn’t want to have anything to do with me. I can’t stand them.” I put that in quotes but I’m sure he was a lot more earthy in his disparagement.

I may have tried to reason with the kid who was eight or nine years my senior but I doubt I tried very hard.

I’m willing to argue with Donald Trump. He may have gone to Wharton School but he is a lot dumber than that kid was. He knew how to avoid getting drafted and serving his country with the kind of people he bent over backward not to sell his apartments to.

While I’m waiting for my letter to go out I’ll once again invite anyone of a mind to, to donate to my campaign. There’s a book in it for you.





Our Better Angels need some Clorox

2 AM. I blame the three brownies I ate during the last night’s Democratic Presidential debate for waking me up at this hour. I blame Donald Trump for not letting me get back to sleep. So, a post with many days rumination is in the making starting with these two books I’ve nibbled at this year.

Since returning from France last year I’ve pretty much given up reading history books. Too much history is being made at the moment and I’ve been preparing for my school board race and just maybe aim at restoring something Lincolnesque to the cesspool that has become the Grand Old Party. One of the candidates said it best last night when asked what she would do if elected President. “Clorox the Oval Office,” she said. Brevity may or may not be the soul of wit but I haven’t thought of a better four words. I do, however, have a pretty good post brewing with seven words: “Donald Trump is White America’s Al Sharpton”. Of course Trump is much more than Sharpton. He’s Sharpton with a reputed billion dollars, the Oval Office and millions of twitter heads. And he’s so good for modern Israel. “Jews will not replace us!” He can’t even find fault with his supporters who march like Nazis through Nuremberg bearing torches while defaming the religion of Ivanka and Jared.

Trump has stolen a page from George Wallace, Strom Thurmond, Lester “Axe handle” Maddox and Theodore G. “America’s most notorious merchant of hatred” Bilbo and done his best to release the toxic worst of America. He’s had a lot of help from Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and the generation of amoral political hacks who called old fart Republicans like me RINO’s and primaried us out of the Party in thirty year purge. Its not just the Presidency that could use a good dose of clorox. Evangelical Christianity could use a good swabbing too.

After I crank out my book on education I plan to turn to what happened in the GOP. The two books above are part of my continuing education. The book above Freedom’s Detective caught my eye in a bookstore. It covers the years after the Civil War and a dashing spy who got a first hand view of how the Ku Klux Klan terrorized the South. I’m not far into it but I got a new appreciation for the Red spread across America’s rural areas. Like rural areas of many modernizing nations the rural areas lag behind and look inward with a chip on the shoulder about urban elites. “Liberalism” an idealistic term suggesting tolerance toward others was treated as a commie conspiracy. Black Americans never ventured far into this vast rural terrain north of the Mason-Dixon line after the Civil War. There were exceptions up north. I once read about a black musician who moved into Windom, Minnesota. He became a beloved and exotic band director. Had he come up with others the community might have grown suspicious. One was enough. When my wife’s family was selling their house in Des Moines, Iowa, in the early sixties the neighborhood panicked when a black realtor showed up.

In the South there was nowhere safe to be black. It was even worse in rural areas where they outnumbered whites. Lynchings could go unnoticed there by all except church goers whose members stopped showing up. Reading about the spy who was working to protect freedman as white supporters were murdered reminded me of how the Serbs in Kosovo purged their Muslim neighbors of the last 400 years. War is a ground game. You may control the skies but if you can’t control events on the ground you’ve lost. Today’s Republicans control the countryside and rural electoral votes. The Civil War’s sepsis has spread over the farmlands of the North in a Red Republican wave. Thank you Moscow Mitch.

The other book is about the year 1919. That was the year after my Grandfather returned from France a shot up hero. Its about the wave of white riots throughout the nation where murdering blacks was rampant. Duluth’s lynching the following year was an after shock. Back then the Republican Party had a conscience about the mayhem. Lincoln was dead but not forgotten as he is today to the Grand Old Party.

I’m sitting between fury and puckishness an hour after I began this post. I don’t feel like editing it yet but I will share the link to my campaign Facebook Page I assembled from pictures I’ve gathered together this year. I hope they are each worth a thousand words because at the moment I just want to go back to bed.

What I’m reading 7-25-19

A short time ago I linked to a story that explained how generations of black American families had their family’s wealth stripped away from them leaving them with little to pass on to the next generation. Today NPR had an excellent short summary about why it is that the vast majority of Black Americans have substandard schools for their children. Its built upon their being channeled into the smallest possible urban footprints with hundreds of thousands crammed into a few blocks and then red lined out of an opportunity to leave the ghettos as their European predecessors did every generation by people like Donald Trump.

Cong. Stauber defends America’s most famous Jew . . .

Benjamin Franklin!

or read it here.

Trumplican Pete Stauber refused to censure Donald Trump for his racist tweets but he had no problem calling out Ilhan Omar for her “racism” when she used the word “Benjamin” to describe the money Republicans used to swamp Congress. The understandable over sensitivity of many Jewish people doesn’t change the fact that Benjamins are One Hundred Dollar Bills with the famous Jewish American Benjamin Franklin’s image on it. Oh, that’s right. Benjamin Franklin wasn’t a Jew. He just had a common Jewish first name like half of non Jewish American males.

Pete is using weasle arguments to call out the four outspoken Democratic Congresswomen one of whom had a mouthy chief of staff who stupidly mocked Speaker Pelosi as a racist. Awkward but hardly out of place in Trump world where Trump laps all his toadies in name calling.

To be a Trumplican is to be a supporter of the biggest racialist in American History hands down. Is Trump a racist? Maybe, Maybe not. There is no doubt that he is the most historically ignorant President again, hands down. I described Trump as a race-baiter or words to that effect a few months ago in this Reader Column: Worse Than a Racist. As the columns title suggests Donald Trump (IMHO) is an opportunist and as such, much worse than a racist. Pete Stauber is his enabler and beneficiary.

Memorial Day Remembrance

At noon I put up our US flag for Memorial Day. I’m not a fanatic about following the rules or it would have gone up at daybreak. I hope my Grandfather would forgive me. I don’t know if he put up a flag every patriotic occasion or not but there is no doubt he was a patriot. I lived in his shadow as a child. I haven’t read through these five posts to confirm it but it appears I might have told this story on the blog five previous times. When I was little and scraped a knee and came looking for my Mother’s solace she would tell me “Don’t cry Harry. Your Grandfather was shot in war and he didn’t cry.”

BTW – That’s such a tough love piece of advice that as an adult I took great delight in quoting it back to my Mother to embarrass her. And she was embarrassed. I’m chuckling at the remembrance now.

But I’ve only come to more deeply respect my grandfather, George Seanor Robb, as the years have passed. This blog has ample evidence of that and this post is just the latest. I’ve been thinking all through the Trump years that writing a book about him would be a good antidote to the Trump contagion. Damn me for my tardiness. I hope to start writing it after the Fall School Board election. Before that I’m hoping to publish another book.

George Robb used his prestige as a Medal of Honor Winner for good. As a big shot Kansas State Auditor he was asked by his Alma Mater for their advice on whether to admit a Japanese student during the Second World War when all Japanese-Americans in the continental United States were being put in internment camps. Here’s the post about the letter he wrote Park College.

In recent years little Park College has honored my Grandfather by setting up the George S. Robb Center for the Study of the Great War. If you follow that link you will see pictured African American men who served with my Grandfather in the trenches of World War I. Following that war my Grandfather was generous in his praise of his fellow comrades at arms. After the war racist Americans bent over backward to besmirch their reputations as fighting men.

Today the GSR Center is spearheading a long overdue evaluation of warriors who were denied the nation’s thanks for their valor and service.

Henry Louis Gates

My eyes are too big for my stomach for history books!

These are my library’s selection of books about African-American history and part of my collection related to the Civil War which arguably is pretty much the same history.

I haven’t read them all. I describe the books I buy but don’t read immediately as being like planes circling an airport waiting for clearance to land. Another plane is close to being added to those circling my bibliographic airport. Its The Stony Road by Henry Louis Gates known to the PBS viewers for his series on family history.

I didn’t know he was about to launch a book let alone on Reconstruction. A week ago, however, I bumped into an old NY Times story about Gates in which an interviewer asked him for the books he had been most moved by. He mentions three or four including one that was sitting behind my computer Reconstruction by Columbia University historian Eric Foner.

All my life I’ve tried to find the Cliff Notes version of everything so that I would have time to become knowledgeable about all things. It has not really worked. There’s just too many books. But I did buy Foner’s book thirty years ago only to discover that he had an abridged book by the same author. I once wrote to Foner asking him (stupidly I admit) what I would find in the full version vs. his Cliffs Notes version. He was kindly un-sarcastic in his reply to me.

So I was surprised to see that Gates has written his own history of Reconstruction taking it through Jim Crow. I am strongly inclined to read it which means buying it too.

BTW – Gates is the fellow that another cranky white lady called the police on when she saw him entering his home in Boston. He was arrested by a white cop and that led to the first proof for Murdoch oriented white nationalists that Barack Obama was a raging black monster when he said the cop over reacted. That led to the obviously raging Obama to hold a beer summit between Professor Gates and the policeman in the Rose Garden. Heavens!!!

Thank God we have the sensible Murdoch-approved Donald Trump presiding over America today.

Sword 2 , the Wallace example

The preceding post doesn’t capture part of the conversation I had with my wife as we discussed this news event.

I am a better angel man. Lincoln you know, and a perfectly respectable Democrat is being flayed for a youthful stupidity. He wasn’t accused of attempting to rape anyone after all. But I just heard the Republican Party’s chairman tell NPR that Governor Northam should resign. Every Democrat seems to be jumping on this bandwagon.

Let me offer some perspective.

I mentioned to my wife the incredible generosity that former Alabama Governor, George Wallace received from Black Alabama in his twilight years. And remember, this was Mr. “Segregation now, Segegration tommorrow, Segregation forever!”

Wallace didn’t start politics as a racist. He lost his first race for the legislature to a racist and being practical out-racisted all future challengers up until he became Governor. But in his last days he sorrowfully apologized for the part he had played. Black Alabama prayed for him and with him and forgave him. They were better angels.

Claudia has recently read Jon Meacham’s book Soul of America. She loved it. She told me that during his Presidency Lyndon Johnson got Wallace in his office and asked him if, after his death, he would be proud to be remembered for his racist politics and go to his grave with a little plaque saying “he hated” on it. Wallace backed off his persecution of black Alabamans.

I’m not sure Johnson’s words made that much of an impact on Wallace in the short term. Wallace conducted his independent 1968 Presidential campaign with a vengeance. But after a second presidential run and an assassination attempt that left him paralyzed he was a shattered man. His apology gave black Alabamans a chance to be generous.

Today politics is once again a blood sport and I’ve heard a lot of Democrats so wound up over Northam’s shoe polish that there isn’t a shred of mercy left. That troubles me.

Falling on your sword

I’m even more troubled by the Niagara pouring over Virginia’s happless democratic Governor Ralph Northam than I was over Minnesota’s Al Franken. His crime in my opinion is panic and stuttering. They come in the wake of a one – two punch.

First, he spoke like a doctor when pressed on late term abortions. I didn’t follow that disaster which was whipped up by Pro-lifers chuffed at the prospect of overturning Roe v Wade and by New York’s unnecessary law trying to one up all the pro-life legislation profiferating in Pro Life country.

Coincidentally one of my recent Facebook correspondents, who is in anguish over the disappearance of the Republican Party in California, shared her thoughts on this sympathetic to Gov. Northam based on her personal experience. She shared them first with Jonah Goldberg of the Nation and told me I could share them with my audience if I promised not to amend them. (If I do that will come later)

This, however, is not the issue that has people baying for him to resign. What is known is that a picture of a man in blackface and someone in a KKK costume was put in an unofficial “yearbook” for his medical school back in 1984. If, as Northam now says he was not in it its too late. His first comment was to apologize for it. After that who can know what to think of his retraction made worse by the confession that he put some shoe polish on his face while participating in a dance contest in 1984. Here the ironies multiply. He was doing Michael Jackson’s moonwalk, Michael who was infamous for bleaching his skin a lighter color. It was a day and age where the dim movie “soul man” hit the theaters. It was only four years after Reagan’s election when he announced his presidential campaign a few miles from the murder of 3 civil rights workers in the 1960’s almost making it seem like the issue of civil rights was all over.

Its galling to see Republicans calling for the Democratic governor to resign considering Northam’s racist in-sensitivities pale compared to President Trumps. As for the Democrats. There is a stampede to remove him. If he leaves it should be because he has so poorly explained himself and that seems to be what many Virginians are thinking. Some day we may learn who made the yearbook. who the people were in it. And how it fell into the hands of a conservative Internet site. No matter what we learn from this reporting it doesn’t save the Governor from his poorly thought out self defense. Who the heck does he think he is? Donald Trump? Lie man. Lie!!!!!

Blackkklansman

This is a pic I snapped last September in Dijon, France. It shows one of forty or fifty waiter/waitresses in a race around the center of town the chief qualification of the half mile or so race was not to drop anything from your tray. While we were in Dijon we were a block away from a “cinema” that was showing the Spike Lee Movie Blackkklansman. We had some spare time but didn’t know if it would be in English with French subtitles or Dubbed French. We passed on the movie. Tonight after watching Lee’s movie at home we both rather regretted missing it in France.

The movie which takes dramatic liberties about a real story concluded with an unexpected segue from a cross burning in the movie to the White racists marching with torches in Charlottesville, Virginia chanting about Jews not taking over America and fighting with protesters. It cut to Trump saying people on both sides of the fighting were trouble and then showed a car that plowed through people protesting the racists from several angles. It was sobering. We wondered what it would have been like to see how a French audience would have reacted to it.

It reminded me of my experience in Dallas or San Antonio, Texas when my family took one of our summer vacations. Dad took us all to a spaghetti western in a downtown theater. It was full of Mexican-American men, mostly young. They so enjoyed watching the gringos getting shot up during fight scenes that I for one felt ridiculously out of place being a gringo myself. Had we been seen in that France movie house depicting racist 1970’a America no one would have known we were Americans. We probably wouldn’t have said much when leaving the theater.

I’ll give Jim the last word.

It’s the least I can do with him hanging on to my tail:

“As the old timers used to say in my day “Son, when you have a tiger (Harry Welty) by the tail, don’t let go.  Harry refuses to expose his heroes and soul mates race-baiters Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson Jr. & III, former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin of the federal racketeering charges against them.  Harry is probably too young in age and/or mind to remember that Martin Luther King fought for EQUALITY, not black supremacy.  He preached that he looked forward to the day that our children will be judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin.  Which made sense to me then and it still does today.  Stacy Abrams (Aunt Jemima) lacks character, a strong moral compass and refuses to accept defeat by playing the race card that suits Harry just fine and has been labeled a “gadfly” for his immoral character.  There is a big difference between upstanding, respectable African-Americans and rabble-rousing race baiting niggers.  Harry prefers the latter, I prefer the foregoing.”

Willy Makeit and the Kunst Brothers

After a day spent far away from Donald Trump’s ego boosting rally at the arena (that one insider gives me credit for talking Duluth into voting for) I woke thinking about something unifying and faithful to the Minnesota I moved to in the Era of Hubert Humphrey. You might have heard of him. In 1948 he helped drive the Dixiecrats out of the Democratic Party at his party’s national convention. He had the temerity to cry out for an end to “state’s rights” and new future of Civil Rights:

“To those who say — My friends, to those who say that we are rushing this issue of civil rights, I say to them we are 172 years late. To those who say — To those who say that this civil-rights program is an infringement on states’ rights, I say this: The time has arrived in America for the Democratic party to get out of the shadow of states’ rights and to walk forthrightly into the bright sunshine of human rights.”

I woke trying to recall the names of the young Minnesota brothers who walked around the world not long after I moved to Minnesota. Thank goodness for Wikipedia. Their entry is short.

They were the Kunst Brothers. I don’t know when I’ve seen a remembrance of them in a newspaper – maybe not for thirty years. However, when David and his brother John set out from tiny Caledonia, Minnesota in Minnesota’s southwestern corner of Minnesota (see map above) in 1970 with a mule they called “Willie Makeit” in the middle of the Vietnam War to walk around the world they caught a lot of attention. That only doubled when they got halfway around Earth to Afghanistan and John was murdered by mountain bandits. After four months recovering from the gunshot to his chest Dave continued his trek with a third brother Pete from the spot in Afghanistan where they were ambushed. John ended his trip solo in October 1974 a few weeks after I’d married and moved to Duluth, after Richard Nixon’s helicopter flight out of the Presidency and half a year before the end of America’s debacle in Vietnam.

Remembering this small shard of history when a couple young American’s went out in search of the world rather than trek to an Arena in Duluth to hear a man preen before an audience of folks who follow him like pimple faced kids at a professional wrestling match was a reminder that greatness is not measured in mouth. It is measured in deed.