LOW-COUNTRY CADENCES: The families love built!

TUESDAY, JUNE 30, 2015

Part 2—Echoes of Dr. King:
In this morning’s New York Times, Alan Blinder describes the last of the Charleston funerals.

“Charleston Church Mourns One More Beloved Victim,” the headline says, employing a bit of language from Dr. King.

Myra Thompson was 59 when she was murdered. According to Blinder, “She joined [the Emanuel AME Church] when she was young, and she was long one of the church’s lay leaders.”

Governor Haley and Mayor Riley spoke at Thompson’s funeral. At one point, Blinder reports an implausible claim:
BLINDER (6/30/15): Hundreds of mourners could not attend the service in the crowded sanctuary, including some who said they arrived around 7 a.m., four hours before Ms. Thompson’s funeral was scheduled to begin. As Ms. Thompson’s coffin arrived, onlookers lifted handwritten signs that declared: “Love Wins. Every. Single. Time.”

The signs also included “#CharlestonStrong,” a refrain that has been common here since the massacre. The suspect, Dylann Roof, 21, has been charged with nine counts of murder.

“We know that an evil man came downstairs 12 days ago with hate in his heart, and this community responded with love,” Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. said. “He came preaching and believing in division, and he brought unity.”
For ourselves, we wouldn’t call Roof “an evil man.” We think the term confers power on someone like Roof. We think it encourages other lost souls to follow along in his wake.

That said, does love win every single time? In the literal sense, it certainly doesn’t seem to.

Last Thursday night, Professor Butler went a bit farther than that. He spoke with Chris Hayes, who thanked him for his “frank honesty:”
BUTLER (6/25/15): It goes to a larger issue, that when black people talk to white people about white supremacy, we’re supposed to be loving and forgiving. The problem is, love and forgiveness are not productive in American politics. That`s not how social change is achieved. You know, you could do it through organizing, you could do it through electoral politics, you could take it to the streets. But being nice in the face of white supremacy does not advance racial justice.
Are black people somehow supposed to be loving and forgiving when speaking in such contexts? We can’t say we observe that dynamic in our national discourse a lot.

At any rate, Professor Butler plainly doesn’t seem to think that love always wins. He specifically said that “love and forgiveness” are unproductive in our American politics.

Plainly, Professor Butler is deeply pained by the events in Charleston. That said, we were very much struck by his remark about love and forgiveness.

He was speaking as part of an instant pushback against the conduct of the Charleston families who had responded to the murders with expressions of love and forgiveness. “We are the family love built,” one of the mourners memorably said just two days after the murders.

People all over the world have responded to those families with expressions of respect which bordered on incomprehension and awe. Up north, many of our professors and journalists engaged in instant pushback.

To our ear, a fair amount of this pushback was openly condescending. It was too soon for the families to forgive, an omniscient short story writer explained in the New York Times, a paper which couldn’t run fast enough to keep condescension alive.

Some of the condescension seemed to mock the families for being too old-school churchy. Inevitably, though, it fell to the new Salon to complain about the fact that the families had spoken at all.

It’s hard to top the new Salon! Bravely fighting through her own remarkable lack of information, a fiery omniscient named Ericka Schiche heroically offered this:
SCHICHE (6/27/15): What kind of twisted criminal justice system does South Carolina have that would even encourage a family member to address a killer before a trial has even transpired? Charleston County Chief Magistrate James B. Gosnell Jr., a person who allegedly once uttered the word “n***er” in court, ought to be ashamed of himself for even exposing grieving family members to videotape of the cretinous killer standing with his back to armed guards less than 48 hours after the shootings. The looming question is: Who is protecting and advising these families which are now permanently damaged by the massacre of their loved ones in this moment of extreme shock, sorrow and bottomless dejection?
We’ll assume that Schiche is well-intentioned in some tremendously general sense. That said, she seemed to suggest that the Charleston families needed someone to make them stop talking in such ridiculous ways.

For the record, Schiche knows what everyone else should do, but she didn’t seem to know what actually happened on the day to which she refers. In the court hearing in question, the Charleston families spoke directly to Roof, who was being held in a separate location, not to videotape of this pitiful soul.

Even at the new Salon, it was amazing to see Schiche’s fact-challenged condescension thrown into print. (Her factual error stands uncorrected, except in reader comments.) At any rate, readers of the new Salon were given a perfect tribal fantasy from which to derive their tribal pleasure:

The families only spoke that way because of the racist judge!

It’s hard to top the new Salon! That said, ponder these questions:

Did those pitiful Charleston families know whereof they spoke? Had they spoken up too soon, as the omniscient Roxane Gay seemed to tell us?

Should they have been told by advisers to keep their traps shut, as the all-knowing Schiche seemed to suggest? Was this “dangerous” mess the fault of a racist judge?

To our ear, the condescension expressed by these writers is obvious and quite familiar. But in our view, Professor Butler’s statement to Hayes was the most striking pushback of all.

Plainly, Professor Butler is deeply angry about these murders; there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be. That said, is it true that “love and forgiveness are not productive in American politics?”

In their statements after the murders, the Charleston families weren’t offering theories about what works in our politics. But is it true that “love and forgiveness” don’t work?

We were struck by Professor Butler’s claim because we’ve read Dr. King. He believed that love and forgiveness constituted a powerful force in effecting social change and addressing social problems.

In 1957, Dr. King published Stride Toward Freedom, his history of the Montgomery bus boycott. In Chapter 6, Pilgrimage to Nonviolence, he described the intellectual search which led him to conclude that “nonviolent resistance was one of the most potent weapons available to oppressed people in their quest for social justice.”

The concepts of love and forgiveness are central all through the chapter and book.

Dr. King describes an anguished search, undertaken at a young age. He describes the way he found the answer to his search in Gandhi’s concept of Satyagraha, which Dr. King translates as “truth force” or “love force.”

“As I delved deeper into the philosophy of Gandhi my skepticism concerning the power of love gradually diminished,” Dr. King wrote, “and I came to see for the first time its potency in the area of reform.”

Dr. King’s entire chapter can be read here. We’re surprised anew every time we read it. Truly, it’s a remarkable document, written when this world historical figure was just 28 years old.

You can read that chapter today. Tomorrow, we’ll run through highlights of the search which led him to his ultimate belief in the power of “the love ethic of Jesus” as a tool for social change.

Warning! If you choose to read that chapter, you may perhaps be embarrassed on several occasions. Dr. King’s basic concepts are considerably out of step with the times, though much less so in the low country than in the rest of our world.

In her report on two earlier funerals, Lizette Alvarez mentioned “the syncopated ‘Lowcountry clap’” which animated the musical presentations.

Those Charleston families live with some remarkable low-country cadences. This includes their religious traditions, which are tied to a brilliant moral and intellectual regime, one which has changed the world.

To our ear, the pushback hasn’t seemed to be real aware of that fact.

Tomorrow: A remarkable search


  1. The "new" Salon.

    "Bernie Sanders exposed! A shocking look at his views on rape and violence against women

    A shocking 1972 essay was just the tip of the iceberg. Salon dives deeper "


    1. Salon dives just deep enough to find Bill Kristol and Erik Erikson are still full of it.

    2. How about "Mother Jones?" They were the ones who dug up Sander's rape fantasy. Meanwhile NPR's Diane Rehm actually accused Sanders of having dual citizenship with Israel. Looks like the HRC supporters are starting to sweat.

    3. Changing the subject again when your prevarication is pointed out.

    4. She didn't accuse him of it. She asked him about it using wording that assumed he did have such citizenship. He then explained that he did not.

    5. Go easy on Cicertroll - he's just doing his job.

    6. Rehm did not pose a question to Sanders. She flat out said to him he had dual citizenship. Rehm couldn't bother to fact check information she read on Facebook.


      "Senator, you have dual citizenship with Israel."

      "Well, no, I do not have dual citizenship with Israel. I'm an -- I don't know where that questioning came from. I am an American citizen, and I have visited Israel on a couple of occasions. No, I'm an American citizen, period."


    7. @ 3:23

      What "prevarication" was that exactly? That Salon bent over backward to dismiss Sanders creepy fantasies as merely an attempt at satire? William Jefferson gets the same pass for his boorish behavior with women because he was for abortion on demand.

    8. Clinton gets a pass because his behavior was private, consensual, legal, and nobody's business. Personally, I don't find sex boorish, but to each his own.

    9. Clinton got impeached.

    10. @ 6:48

      Redecorating a subordinate's dress in the Oval Office is your idea of private? William Jefferson denied he had "sex with that women." Are you contradicting Willie?

      Paula Jones, Juanita Broaddrick and Kathleen Willey actually did find Willie's behavior not only boorish but criminal.

  2. In other areas of the world where conflict has led to outrageous acts of violence (e.g., Rwanda, Northern Ireland), negotiated settlements have had to be accompanied by conscious efforts toward forgiveness. In Rwanda, the Truth and Reconciliation Panels were a formal process enabling families of those killed to forgive and put behind them the acts of others whom they would have to go forward and build a society with. In Ireland, the culture has long been to hold on to, remember and even celebrate past grievances. Peace has required all sides to set aside generational feuds in order to stop violence that everyone had become weary of.

    The level of violence and outrage in the US does not approach that of other parts of the world. Nevertheless, a political process that guarantees the rights of oppressed minorities can only succeed when all parties also engage in motivated forgiveness of past wrongs. That requires some trust in others that they too will support the peace process, that positive change will occur. It requires faith and good will.

    I don't see people in the US engaging in any of the behaviors that will generate a reduction of tensions, improvement of conditions and ongoing reconciliation. I see activists on both sides hanging on to grievances, heightening tensions and stoking anger while many in the middle try to achieve a positive, inclusive relationship. Maybe we just aren't ready for unity -- maybe activists need to get more tired of the violence before they are ready to work toward peace. In my opinion, MLK and Gandhi were leaders at points when people were tired of violence. I don't think people are tired of it today -- I think they find it exciting. Maybe things will have to get worse before they can get better.

    1. I don't think it's helpful to compare the US with Rwanda and Northern Ireland. In this country, there has never been a war of blacks against whites. In fact, there was a war in which hundreds of thousands of whites died for the sake of blacks.

      IMHO suggestions like the above, in effect, amount to keeping alive tensions between the races. I think they're counterr-productive.

    2. "In fact, there was a war in which hundreds of thousands of whites died for the sake of blacks."

      In fact the war you reference was a rebellion of one region of the country, the south, which imagined the rest of the country was going to eliminate their ability to enslave blacks. The war was engaged by the north to preserve the nation as a whole. To say there was racial motivation in which hundreds of thousand of whites died "for the sake of blacks" one would have to say the "sake of blacks' being sought by those who died was the sake of keeping them in bondage.

    3. Not to mention, there was never a war of blacks against whites in Northern Ireland or Rwanda either.

      There have been race riots in which whites and blacks fight each other throughout each of the centuries the US has existed. In contrast, a riot in which one race burns stuff and loots is not a race riot -- there must be two races fighting each other to make an actual race riot or racial war. Maybe David has his African nations confused and is thinking about what happened in Uganda or Rhodesia?

    4. Leonid CarneseccaJune 30, 2015 at 7:26 PM

      David, TDH's permanent concern troll is simply employing the Lee Atwater Rule.

  3. I am glad Blogger Bob Somerby has found yet another black person to chastise for not reacting to a racist serial killing in the way he thinks appropriate.

    1. Blacks seem to be chastising each other for not reacting appropriately to a racist serial killing -- Somerby is pointing that out. He is chastising everyone for not being like MLK.

  4. "Plainly, Professor Butler is deeply pained by the events in Charleston. That said, we were very much struck by his remark about love and forgiveness.

    He was speaking as part of an instant pushback against the conduct of the Charleston families who had responded to the murders with expressions of love and forgiveness."

    Why does Bob Somerby feel the need to lie to his readers day after day after day?

    Paul Butler's comments, on both NPR and MSNBC, had absolutely nothing to do with the families of those slain at Emanuel A.M.E. church, and for Somerby to repeatedly make that claim to serve his own endless and sadly invented narrative about some "instant pushback" against those victims is truly heinous, to use one of his frequently overused terms.

    Paul Butler's comments on NPR were directed at a woman who said she honored her ancestors who fought for the Confederacy. His comments on Chris Hayes were aimed at those who found his response to that woman to be rude. The issue was the Confederate Flag, not the families of the slain in Charleston.

    1. Go back and read what Somerby said about Butler in the post directly above your comment. He quotes Butler sufficiently to show that he is not speaking about the families but about activism. Both Butler's point and Somerby's complaint are clear in the post. YOU are the one claiming that Somerby was ascribing Butler's remarks to the families of those slain. Somerby doesn't do that above, nor is Butler talking about those families. Both are talking about politics.

      YOU are making stuff up in order to portray Somerby as a liar. YOU are a lying troll.

    2. A Lying Troll did not write:

      "Plainly, Professor Butler is deeply pained by the events in Charleston. That said, we were very much struck by his remark about love and forgiveness.

      He was speaking as part of an instant pushback against the conduct of the Charleston families"

      A Lying Troll didn't go on to write:

      "Up north, many of our professors and journalists engaged in instant pushback."

      Bob Somerby wrote that.

      If you can find anybody named other than Paul Butler who is a "professor" from "up north" to whom you can suggest Bob Somerby was referring in his multiple references to "instant pushback" we will be happy to refute any reference someone in the comment box might make to you as a total idiot.

    3. You are being too literal again, which suggests you are KZ. The pushback generalized from the families to activism and it is the latter Butler and Somerby are both discussing later, at the time of the quote. You cannot take a sentence out of context and combine it with something said later and accuse Somerby of malfeasance. The context for Somerby's professor reference is found in the several posts he has made on this subject last week.

      Only someone like you doesn't understand how to read an ongoing discussion. Assuming you are genuinely troubled by Somerby's reference, the problem is with how your mind works. You are misunderstanding his posts.

      If you are not embarrassed by this, at least stop wasting other people's time with this crap. Combined with your animosity toward Somerby, you come off like a vindictive little turd whining about things no one else cares about and calling Somerby names no one agrees with. You have to have a more productive use for your time.

    4. @ 6:43 said "You cannot take a sentence out of context and combine it with something said later and accuse Somerby of malfeasance."

      The context for his reference to Paul Butler was in the first post when he was mentioned on Friday in which Somerby said:

      "Professor Butler continued the pushback we have described in the past two days. In this rolling movement, northern “intellectual leaders” have been rebuking those silly low-country blacks for their silly, unproductive “love and forgiveness” approach.

      In this very discussion Somerby took things Butler said out of context. He had earlier added things to what Chris Hayes said. He eliminated things said to Hayes in response by Judith Brown Dianis, then inserted a whole conversation from another TV program in between.

      He finally found one fool, the writer for Salon, who actually did say she had problems with the family of victims being forgiving, but not until almost two weeks after the tragedy and well after he invented his narrative of the relatives being "cuffed-aside" in accusations against people who had done nothing of the sort.

    5. He said one thing at the beginning of his post but was talking about something different further down where he quotes Butler. You try to force the discussion about forgiveness and politics back into a brief initial statement about the families. Learn.to.read.

    6. It's.in.the.same.sentence.

    7. You are too literal. Also, look up perseveration in a psychology dictionary.

    8. You keep repeating that I am "too literal" because you suffered a brain injury? Bob Somerby keeps repeating that Butler and unnamed others are involved in "instant pushback" because of a brain injury? In our view, I am sorry to hear that.

      That said, we are still sad you could not identify who it was other than Paul Butler who was rebuking those low country blacks through the instant payback Somerby was clearly NOT saying Butler engaged in, continued, and was speaking as part of.

    9. No one cares what confuses you.

  5. If only Hank Aaron had embraced forgiveness. He has joined the instant pushback.


    1. @ 3:41

      While "Oh Henry!" is not named after Hank Aaron, "Baby Ruth" is named after the Sultan of Swat. Where is Willie Mays' tribute candy bar?

    2. "Crap in the Box" isn't a candy bar named for cicero, it is just a description.

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    4. @ 6:16

      Don't fret. One day your parents will be able to afford indoor plumbing.