Alarming News: I like Morgan Freeberg. A lot.
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler: We were following a trackback and thinking "hmmm... this is a bloody excellent post!", and then we realized that it was just part III of, well, three...Damn. I wish I'd written those.
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler: ...I just remembered that I found a new blog a short while ago, House of Eratosthenes, that I really like. I like his common sense approach and his curiosity when it comes to why people believe what they believe rather than just what they believe.
Brutally Honest: Morgan Freeberg is an intriguing guy...[he] asks great questions and answers others with style, flair, reason and wit. On the blogroll he goes. Make him a part of your regular blogospheric reading. I certainly will.
Brutally Honest: Morgan Freeberg is brilliant.
Common Sense Junction: Misha @ Anti-Idiotarian never ceases to amaze me. He keeps finding other good blogs. I went over to A.I. this morning for my daily Misha fix and he had found this guy named Morgan Freeberg in Fair Oaks, California, that has a blog, House of Eratosthenes. Freeberg says its "The Blog That Nobody Reads" but it may now become the blog that everybody reads.
Jaded Haven: Good God, Morgan, you cover a topic from front to back with a screwy thoroughness I find mind boggling. I'm in awe of your thought proccesses, my friend, you're an exceptional talent. You start by throwing in the kitchen sink, tie in someone's syphilitic uncle, bend around a rip tide of brilliance and bring it all home in a neat, diamond dripping package of an exceptionally readable moment of damn fine wordsmithing. I love reading you.
Mein Blogovault: Make "the Blog that No One Reads" one of your daily reads.
Philmon: When Morgan meanders, stick with him - he's got a point and it'll be worth it in the end. He's not a hit-and-run snarky quip kind of guy. The pieces all fall into place like tumblers in a lock and bang! He's opened a cognative door for you.
Rightlinx: Morgan at House of Eratosthenes is one of the best writers out there. I read him nearly every day because he manages to provide an interesting perspective, even though I don't always agree.
Poetic Justice: Cletus! Ah gots a laiv one fer yew...
That’s what the headline should have said.
The Sacramento Bee, in the Forum Section…just a couple pages away from where it asked its own readers if we needed to have a “dialog on race”…looked hopefully toward the future of racial reconciliation in a way that must’ve made sense to someone, somewhere. They did it by delving deep into the past, to dredge up the most offensive and appalling anecdotes of racial discrimination, as told by all the embittered old guys they could manage to track down. And just to make sure things stayed nasty someone went out and took black-and-white photos of the offended as they held signs.
Sanitation workers Echol Cole and Robert Walker had climbed into the back of one of the old garbage trucks to get out of the rain. But as the vehicle rumbled along, the hydraulic ram that compacted the trash started up on its own. Cole and Walker were crushed. Just like garbage.
The men had complained for years about that truck in particular, about raggedy, malfunctioning old trucks in general. The city never listened. Now it gave each man’s widow one month’s salary – likely less than $300 – added an additional $500 apiece, and called it square. Burial expenses alone were $900 a man.
No one knew it at the time. At the time, it was just a strike, just the workers against the city, the latter represented by its newly elected mayor, a stubbornly intransigent cuss named Henry Loeb who drew a line in the sand early on and refused to budge, even when his advisers advised him to, even when budging seemed a matter of plain common sense.
In his book, “Going Down Jericho Road: The Memphis Strike, Martin Luther King’s Last Campaign,” historian Michael K. Honey paints a striking picture of the mayor: racist, virulently anti-union; stridently anti-communist.
“Anti-communism was just a huge layer over the white population at that time in Memphis. In the first negotiation that (union organizer) Bill Lucy had with them, Mayor Loeb brings up the communist issue and the war in Vietnam. (Lucy) was dumbfounded and he said, ‘What did that have to do with anything?’ ”
The men were talking about raises. About a place to shower the filth off before they went home. About getting paid for time worked. About having a place to urinate. The mayor was talking communism.
In the minds of white conservatives, says Honey, “If you stood up for civil rights, you were automatically a communist.”
The plight of the sanitation workers, just prior to and during the strike, is fascinating stuff. But one should bear in mind it’s not going to be an even-handed treatment. You should have already gathered that from the excerpt above.
A funny thing, isn’t it…I keep hearing that Fox News should be criticized because it calls itself “fair and balanced.” One thing I usually can’t nail down is, should Fox News be criticized because 1) it is found undeserving of this moniker, or 2) nobody who retells historic events should try to be this. Good heavens. The “historian” is telling us “if you stood up for civil rights, you were automatically a communist”…in the minds of “white conservatives.”
If that doesn’t make you want to hear the other side of the story before passing judgment, there is something wrong with you. Just sayin’.
On Feb. 23, the strike exploded into violence. Sanitation workers were holding one of their daily marches when police appeared, riding five and six to a car, brandishing rifles and using their vehicles to force the marchers, who were walking several abreast and commandeering much of the street, back toward the sidewalk. Cars brushed dangerously close. March leader the Rev. James Lawson told the marchers, “They’re trying to provoke us. Keep going.”
Then, say the workers (the point is still disputed, 40 years later), a police car ran over the foot of a woman marcher. And parked there. And the men had had enough.
“They picked that car up,” says Joe Warren, an 86-year-old retired sanitation worker, “and turned it over on its side. That’s when all hell broke a loose.”
Out came the nightsticks. The violence was indiscriminate: women, old men, ministers, not resisting, just standing there, didn’t matter. Some policemen took off their badges as they whaled away.
“Them white police was mean with those sticks,” says Warren. “They hit you with those sticks; they juke you with those sticks.” Some men fought back with their protest signs.
All in all, an ugly episode from our nation’s past to remember. Or rather, Memphis’ past. We’re remembering it now, under the direction of our “news” media, under a gaze most jaundiced, because it is the backdrop of the martyrdom of Martin Luther King.
King is known to us now because he was a visionary. He looked forward to a future of complete integration and unity.
Maybe it’s the whiteness in me talking, but this doesn’t seem to me to be a very fitting tribute. Splash pages? Black and white photos? Pissed-off-looking models with signs? Reaching back forty years to dredge up white-on-black violence, and black-on-white hatred?
What’s that got to do with healing?
“Son of a BITCH! We’ve hit the motherlode!” a jubilant Faye Dunaway, playing producer Diana Christensen, exclaims upon hearing “they’re yelling in Baton Rouge,” after her anchorman Howard Beale (Peter Finch) delivers his oscar performance. You know what Howard Beale did, don’t you…he went through the motions of being an “anchorman,” sitting behind a dest giving people information about things, but then proceeded to instruct his audience to get “mad as hell.”
Over in Howard Beale’s fictitious universe, millions of news watchers all across the nation stuck their heads out their windows and yelled those magic words, “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not gonna take it anymore!”
Over in ours, we giggled, pointed, admired the artistry and the gravity. Lavished 18 wins and 19 nominations on Network (1976). Yes, very poignant. We pretend the news informs when it is designed to merely outrage. And then when we were done admiring the message, we ignored it, going right back to the ol’ grind. And here comes Leonard Pitts, the new Howard Beale.
Look at those black, old, tired, sad — and oh, so angry, don’t forget the anger — faces. It’s like a GQ magazine, except unlike GQ, these “models” actually went through something that angered them.
Howard Beale admitted in his monologue that he didn’t know what people should do. “First, you’ve got to get mad” — then, who knows? Well, at least Beale admitted it. Mr. Pitts and everyone else responsible for putting together these GQ pages, seem to have the same counsel for us…”get mad”…and the same prognostication about how this is supposed to work to make life better…”I dunno.” What’s the point here? That these gentlemen are still around and have unpleasant memories? Okay, well then if we’re coming together to achieve racial unity and harmony, and the obstacle is these guys and their memories, are we supposed to be assassinating people? Or wiping out their memories? It doesn’t seem that either one of those is to be suggested here. I’m guessing the suggestion is to nurture a long, vivid memory.
A long and vivid, hateful memory.
It’s been forty years. It’s become a classic case of CALWWNTY (Come A Long Way, We’re Not There Yet). The sad truth of it is, giant, glossy splash-page remembrances such as this represent a big part of the reason why. We’ve been looking forward to a peaceful, utopian future while our gaze remains riveted on the ugliness of a hateful past. Riveted there, for the financial benefit of the Diana Christensens of the world. Can’t you hear them now over the “mad as hell” banter? “Son of a bitch! We’ve hit the motherlode!”
We are digging a well, in the very moment in which we’re watching others pile dirt back into it. For money and fame.
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