Tag Archives: Ellwood Park

Glad to see Confederate debate arrive

I am delighted to see that Amarillo, Texas — my current city of residence — has entered a serious debate that many other communities have already joined.

How do we remember those who fought for the Confederate States of America? Should we remember them? Should we forsake them?

This is an important discussion that erupted in August as a riot ensued in Charlottesville, Va. White supremacists, Klansmen and neo-Nazis marched to protest a plan to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from a public park. Counter protesters emerged to challenge the first group. A young woman was killed when she was run over by a car allegedly driven by a young man with white supremacists sympathies.

The debate hasn’t really let up since.

Now it’s arrived in Amarillo. On Monday, the Amarillo public school system is going to discuss whether to rename Robert E. Lee Elementary School. The Robert E. Lee school situation presents an amazing irony, given that the school is located in a historically black neighborhood. Think of that for a moment: That school is named to honor a man who fought to destroy the United States. And for what purpose? To preserve the enslavement of black Americans!

There’s more discussion about the status of a Confederate soldier statue at Ellwood Park.

A pro-Confederate advocate is urging the City Council to “leave history alone.”

I come at this from a different angle. I am a transplant who chose to move to Amarillo in early 1995. My wife and I came here from Beaumont, Texas, where we lived for nearly 11 years prior to moving to the Panhandle. Indeed, we have witnessed our fair share of racial strife since we moved to Texas in 1984 from Oregon, where I was born and where my wife lived for many years.

Do we honor traitors?

I see the Confederacy as an aftertaste of the nation’s bloodiest armed conflict. The Civil War killed more than 600,000 Americans. Why did they fight? The Confederacy came into being as a protest against federal policy that the Confederate States believed interfered with their own right of self-determination.

Let’s not be coy about what those states wanted to preserve: One of their goals was to maintain slavery.

They separated from the United States of America and then went to war. Where I come from, I consider that an act of treason.

Is that the history we want to preserve? Is that what we honor?

I don’t have any particular concern about those who plaster Confederate flags on their bumpers or fly the Stars and Bars from their car radio antennae. That’s their call. Do I question why they do these things? Sure, but I don’t obsess over it.

Putting these symbols, though, on public property — be they parks or public schools — is another matter.

Preserving and honoring history is fine. I’m all for it. The Civil War, though, represents a dark and grim chapter in our nation’s history that should be remembered, studied and discussed. But do we honor that time? That’s why we have historical museums. We’ve got a damn fine historical museum in Canyon, at the West Texas A&M University campus.

So, let’s have this discussion in Amarillo about the Confederacy. Keep it civil and high-minded.

Scorned women on the march

How does that saying go? “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned”?

A lot of women around the United States of America are feeling scorned today, the first full day of Donald J. Trump’s presidency.

They’re marching on Washington, D.C. They’re marching all across the country. Why, even in Amarillo, Texas — where the president earned about 80 percent of the total vote — women were to march at Ellwood Park.

Their protest? They dislike (a) the election of a man who actually admitted to mistreating women and (b) the defeat of Hillary Rodham Clinton, who most pundits and prognosticators said would make history by becoming the first woman elected president of the United States.

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/meet-the-women-of-the-womens-march-on-washington/ar-AAm5aKo?li=BBnb7Kz

I’m trying to process this collective march throughout the land.

On the one hand, I understand women’s anger, disappointment and pain. Trump campaigned for the presidency while hurling insults at many demographic groups — and that included women, who took personally his attacks on people such as former Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly and actor/comedian Rosie O’Donnell.

But … get this: Exit polling showed that Trump garnered more than 50 percent of the female vote nationwide. Statistically, that might have spelled the difference between winning and losing for the Republican presidential nominee. By capturing a majority of the female vote, does the women’s march overstate the concern that marchers are expressing? I don’t know the answer to that question.

It does appear that the national divide now is split not just along urban and rural residents, among racial groups and among socio-economic groups. It now appears split along gender.

A lot of women are angry today as the realization of Trump’s inauguration as the 45th president is soaking into their consciousness. Not all of them, mind you. Indeed, I know several women here in the Texas Panhandle who voted for Trump — many of them with great trepidation; however, others did so with great enthusiasm.

My advice today to the president? Pay careful attention to what these women on the march are saying. He should not want to be on the receiving end of women’s rage if he scorns them yet again by ignoring their protests.

Flag becomes easy target … with good reason

confederate flag

A flag is coming down today. TV networks are going to cover the event live, such as they did when we launched men to the moon or when we held state funerals for a murdered president.

This is a big deal for an important reason.

The flag — which symbolizes the kind of bigotry that helped launch the Civil War — is an easily recognizable symbol. Its intent today, in many quarters, is to inspire fear and to terrorize Americans.

It has to come down and it has to be placed in a museum, where adults can tell their children about what this flag means to so many millions of Americans.

The flag in question has flown on the state capitol grounds in Columbia, S.C., the state where just a few weeks ago nine African-Americans were slaughtered in a Charleston church. A young white man has been charged with murder; and that same young white man has been revealed to harbor hatred for African-Americans.

And yes, he’s displayed pictures of himself waving that Confederate battle flag.

You see the flag and any number of things come into your mind.

I see the flag as a symbol of oppression. That it would fly on public property — which is owned jointly by African-Americans and white Americans who see the flag as many of us do — is an insult in the extreme.

Moreover, the flag is different from many other Confederate symbols, such as statues.

There’s a statue at the west end of Ellwood Park here in Amarillo of a Confederate soldier. To be honest, I drove by it for years before I even knew what it represented. To this very day I cannot tell you who it represents, and I doubt most Amarillo residents even know the name of the individual depicted by that statue.

Should that artifact come down? I don’t believe its removal is as necessary as the removal of the flag from the statehouse grounds in South Carolina.

We know what the Confederate battle flag represents to many Americans.

And because it is so easily recognizable as what it is, then it needs to come down.

Today.