Letters to the Editor

This is Viewpoints for Saturday, August 1, 2015

‘Go Set A Watchman’

There is no moral defense for the oppression of blacks during the South’s Jim Crow era. No moral defense for the slavery that lay at the root of it. Every Southerner knows that. And during the African-Americans’ push for equal rights in the mid-20th century, there was no moral justification to oppose them. But Atticus Finch had his reasons for standing in their way. And how betrayed we’ve felt as a nation since Harper Lee’s “Go Set a Watchman” hit the bookshelves.

Yet as a white Southerner who had a front row seat to the turmoil of the Civil Rights era, I see the book as the author’s effort to lay out every plausible reason for the South’s resistance to change, to acquaint the reader with the painful, conflicted feelings of a South in transition, and then to come down hard on the side of justice. Atticus was a necessary casualty of that effort.

My dad was a newspaper editor in Albany, Georgia, during the Civil Rights upheavals of the 1960s. A Mississippi-born Southerner, he brought a surprisingly even hand and cool head to the events unfolding in our streets. He never commented at the dinner table on the implication of the protest marches, but I suspect that his dominant reaction to the unrest was a quiet unease.

I doubt that anyone who did not live in the South during the Civil Rights era can offer a credible assessment of the character of Atticus Finch. Though there were racist bigots abroad, exploiting the situation to unleash their hatred, Atticus Finch was not one of them, nor was my dad, nor was any other Southerner, black or white, of compassion and decency.

It was a time of convulsive upheaval, pointing toward a future whose shape could not be imagined. A good man of any race, shot through with fear for his family, his community, is a complexity not to be judged too quickly, nor too harshly.

Jean-Louise, the grown-up Scout of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” responded violently to Atticus’ resistance to the integration of “the backward people” into white society. She represents not only the conscience of all humanity, but the redeeming core of Atticus’ character when he stepped up to defend the black Tom Robinson in “Mockingbird.”

Near the end of their confrontation, Jean-Louise speaks her heart.

“Atticus, the time has come when we’ve got to do right.”

“Do right?”

“Yes sir. Give ‘em a chance.”

It was a start, and we’ve come a long way since Harper Lee penned, “Go Set a Watchman.” But imperfect humans that we are, susceptible to fearing “the other,” we do well to remain vigilant, giving each other a chance, one encounter at a time.

-- Carol Megathlin

Savannah

Improvements?

Ditto, Thomas R. Mann. You are not the only person who thinks the new lofts behind the Post Office are ugly. I and several of my friends have expressed the same opinion. However, the landscaping is beautiful.

I also think there are other buildings that fit your same opinion. The former Music Hall of Fame looks more like an airplane hanger than the surrounding buildings. Also, in the same Telegraph edition there is a photo of a man crossing the “mule water trough” on Poplar street. Notice in the background the three pronged light fixture. What is its purpose?

My business has been on Poplar Street in the 600 block since 1996 and during the time of the Poplar Street renovation. It was designed to replicate the era when Poplar Street was the cotton trade market. Half of the median in the 600 block still has gravel, but no grass. The trees are really nice and will be there for many years. Before the renovation we had Cherry trees and Rose gardens and grass. I too wonder how Planning & Zoning could have approved these “improvements.”

-- Jean E. Weaver

Macon

Can Trump, trump?

A breath of fresh air has hit the presidential race. Donald Trump is, obviously, not a politician. But he’s a damn fine capitalist. And last time I looked we were still (barely) a capitalist nation. After years listening to the glib lies and dishonest mumbling from lifer politicos like John Boehner, Nancy Pelosi, Bill and Hillary Clinton, President Barack bama and yes, our own Austin Scott, we at least understand what Trump is saying. And many agree with him to the point that we overlook his impetuous and often crude manner. We know in our hearts something is wrong with the country and we don’t trust the politicians, the bureaucrats, the lobbyists, the Wall Street advisers or the corporate elite to fix it.

These experts have screwed it up to the point Trump couldn’t do any worse, so why not give him the chance. At least he doesn’t change his beliefs to appeal to whomever he’s talking to. Can he win? Start with the fact that 40 percent of Democrats do not like Clinton, Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders as their nominee. Add in that the idiot leaders of the GOP have alienated 80 percent of their base. If Trump can convince those castaways of his sincerity he’s a shoo-in.

-- Bob Norcott

Byron

Up-to-date

I’ve been kinda preoccupied lately trying to make enough money to pay my taxes. I must have missed out on some local news. Will somebody please bring me up to date on those hideous donuts rolling down Coleman Hill and why local government needs spy drones. Thanks a lot.

-- Terrell Stanley

Macon

Show our history

In regards to the CSA soldier monument on Cotton Avenue, why not add other monuments to the location? The soldier represents only one aspect of Macon’s history. Why not add monuments representing others? What about a monument representing Native Americans? Perhaps a general representation of a Creek tribal member, as with the CSA soldier, or maybe a statue of a specific person prominent in Native American history for this area? Also, what about a monument representing Macon’s black history? William and Ellen Craft, Jefferson Long, Charles Douglass, Rodney Davis? The list of possibilities is long.

In truth, we all descend from these histories. I dare say many of us share blood from each. We’ve survived our differences and we all live here together today. Show our history together, as one.

-- T. Elliott

Kathleen

Essence of deal

There are a few things I am considering relative to the nuclear deal: If Congress defeats the deal, international sanctions are negated. Then Iran can be free to speed up its nuclear program now instead of the 10 to 15 years from now as part of the deal. If, as generally believed, Israel has up to 80 nuclear weapons why is there no outcry for them to destroy them?

We are not giving Iran our money when the $150 billion is returned to Iran, it is their money that has been held pending a nuclear arms deal. This deal is not just a deal between The U.S. and Iran, it is an agreement among many nations and Iran will not be bound by congressional actions. Iran, supposedly, now has enough enriched uranium for 10 t0 12 nuclear devices. The deal requires Iran to slash the number of centrifuges for 10 years and reduces the amount of enriched uranium for 15 years. If Iran is found to be cheating, the coalition of nations can immediately impose ever more harsh sanctions on Iran.

Short of a nuclear treaty the only way to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon that surely will threaten Israel and the rest of the world is to once again go to war in the Middle East and we know how that type of misadventure worked out the last time.

-- Bill P. Northenor

Woodstock

Wedge issues

Rinda Wilson’s “Are you a low information voter?” (Telegraph, 29 July) should be retitled “Are you a wedge issue voter?” Seven of 11 of her facts were about abortion, LGBT issues, or welfare. Two were on the Middle East and one on immigration. I think all she’s missing is the Confederate flag, unions and whether you drive a Ford or Chevy.

In her next letter maybe she could inform us about things most people don’t already have their minds made up about. And if she’s really interested in changing hearts and minds rather than being a partisan hack, she can start by not insulting her target audience.

-- Matt Dykes

Macon

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