What kind of place is the Washington Post?: What kind of place is Franklin County, Virginia?
We have no real idea. We've been to Roanoke many times, and it's lies about twenty miles to the north.
That said, if memory serves, we've never been to Franklin County, not even to Smith Mountain Lake. In part for that reason, we can't tell you what kind of place Franklin County is, though we're willing to guess it's a fairly varied place with a varied array of people.
Admittedly, none of those people will be as brilliant and good as We are. Far too few will have prepped at Georgetown Day or will have graduated from Harvard.
That said, Franklin County's 56,000 people probably aren't all the same. We'd be reluctant to offer a sweeping portrait, especially if the portrait has been fashioned from poison.
We raise that question because of a passage from the Washington Post's recent portrait of Franklin County. The Washington Post does seem to know what kind of a place Franklin County is. Early in its highly novelized, Klan-drenched portrait, the Washington Post tells us this:
NATANSON (8/1/20): [Bridgette] Craighead had grown up in this county of about 56,000, which lies lapped in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and is nearly 90 percent White. Rocky Mount itself is nearly 70 percent White, and in Craighead’s public school classes, she was almost always the only Black child in class.According to the Washington Post, Franklin County's that kind of a place! A comically awful photo caption even describes the troubling county as being "extremely white."
It’s the kind of place where Confederate flags hang, twinned with Trump 2020 banners, outside homes and shops. Where local officials rebuilt and rededicated the Confederate statue in 2010 at a cost of more than $100,000, after a pickup truck driver accidentally demolished it and local historians compared its demise to a death in the family. Where earlier this year, the White superintendent pooh-poohed a ban on Confederate gear in schools, proposed by the school board’s only Black member, by asserting that nobody could possibly be bothered by “a little Rebel flag on a jacket.”
It’s the birthplace of prominent Black educator Booker T. Washington—now marked by a national monument—and home to the site where he was freed. But the county’s historical marker notes only that Confederate “General Jubal A. Early lived in this county.”
Just for the record, many counties in this nation are as much as 90 percent white. According to the Census Bureau, the state of Maine is 93.0% white (also, less than 1.7% black), yet many of the finest people have been known to summer there!
We'll also guess that there really are homes and shops in Franklin County which display Confederate flags. We'll guess that this would be true in many places, in a wide range of southern (and northern) locales.
That said, how many homes and shops in Franklin County display Confederate flags? As the late Ed McMahon might have asked, "How many homes and shops are there?"
As with many other complaints, the Washington Post leaves that question to our Klan-inflected imaginations. Comically, though, the famous newspaper does provide this puzzling photo caption, an emblem of its magisterial journalistic sloth:
PHOTO CAPTION: The Boones Mill Produce Co., on the main highway in Franklin County, has Confederate flags and Trump flags on display.So the caption says. Above it sits a color photo of the Boones Mill Produce Co.—and that's where the unintentional humor comes in.
Go ahead—give it a try! Try as we might, we can't see a Confederate flag anywhere in the whole photo! There are several tributes to Trump on display, but unless we're missing something, no Confederate regalia of any kind can be seen.
It may well be that this roadside store does display and sell Confederate flags. We'll guess that other shops in Franklin Count may display and sell such items, though we don't know that for a fact, and we don't know how many.
That said, it's a tribute to the Post's journalistic sloth that it could post that photo caption while failing to notice the lack of confirmation in the photograph itself. So it goes when upper-end newspapers like The Post decide to start writing novels in support of their brave social stands, but also as a display of their unsurpassed moral greatness.
What kind of a place is Franklin County? It actually is the kind of a place where that Confederate statue got rebuilt "at a cost of more than $100,000." (The decision to do so seems to have been made in 2008.)
It's also the kind of a place where the errant driver's insurance paid for that rebuilding. Local officials put up only $500 of the cost, a point we mention only because it seems to be part of the truth.
It's also the kind of a place where the local twice-weekly newspaper, The Franklin News-Post, offered a recent editorial about that very issue. When it wasn't citing the findings of the progressive Southern Poverty Law Center, the editorial was offering such sardonic comments as these:
FRANKLIN NEWS-POST EDITORIAL (6/24/20): What supervisors didn’t know then, and what they didn’t know when the new statue was dedicated in 2010, was that they were putting up what seems to be the last Confederate statue erected on public property in Virginia—and one of the last in the country.We can't find the promised Part 2 of that sardonic editorial. Rather plainly, the editorial seems to argue a current left-liberal line concerning that cause-and-effect.
The big surge was in the late 1800s and early 1900s, which coincided with the rise of Jim Crow laws, and a second wave in the late 1950s and early 1960s, which coincided with Southern resistance to integration orders. You can draw your own conclusions about cause-and-effect there.
At any rate, Franklin County is the kind of a place where some journalist was willing to offer that sardonic take on this newly current topic. We'll guess that the people of Franklin County are not all just alike.
Franklin County actually is the kind of a placer whose "White superintendent" made that remark about wearing Confederate gear to school. That said, it's also the kind of a place where the school board has in fact decided to ban the Confederate flag from the public schools' dress code.
You're told that in the Post's report, in a somewhat murky way. But you have to read all the way to paragraph 68 to be told about the dress code ban. The superintendent's comment gets cited right at the start of the piece, right there in paragraph 7.
Is Franklin County the kind of a place whose sole historical marker "notes only that Confederate 'General Jubal A. Early lived in this county?' ”
Actually, the county has many historical markers, but the one the Post cites does exist. You can see that marker here. It's nothing more than a roadside sign saying you've entered the county.
The sign was erected in 1940. We'll guess that no one has stopped to read it since 1941. But it helped the Washington Post compose the Scary Story it liked about this Klan-drenched place.
What kind of a place is Franklin County? We have no real idea. We do know it's the kind of a place whose current Teacher of the Year is black.
It's the kind of a place whose public school enrollment is only 8 percent black—but the school system doesn't seem to hate its black kids.
At the Franklin County Pubic Schools web site, two photos of students are featured. At the risk of possible error, we'd score the demographics like this:
Students shown in Franklin County Public Schools photos:Notices about the coronavirus are posted in English and Spanish. The first photo you see at the site? It's an aerial shot of a bunch of kids spelling out this motto:
White kids; 5
Black kids: 4
Hispanic kids: 1
BE KINDThe Washington Post could possibly learn from that photo! With that in mind, we move on to a second question:
What kind of a place is the Washington Post?
For starters, we'd be willing to guess that the Post is a fairly varied place, with a varied array of people. Some of those people are doing good work. Others, perhaps, a bit less so.
On the one hand, the Post is the kind of a place which has published today, once again, an aggressive editorial about the still-unexplained shooting death of the late Bijan Ghaisar.
Three years later, Bijan Ghaisar's shooting death still hasn't been explained. To its credit, the Post is still pushing for answers. The mainstream press hasn't bothered reporting this story for reasons which are obvious.
On Monday morning, we expect to start a new set of reports by reviewing that editorial. That said, the Washington Post is also the kind of a place where editors recently rushed to cover their own ascots about a two-year-old Halloween costume brouhaha.
In the process, they threw a 54-year-old woman under the bus, getting her fired from her job in the process. In its most repulsive sectors, the Washington Post can also be also that kind of very dumb, nasty place.
For this week's purposes, the Washington Post is the kind of a place which was willing to publish that journalistically embarrassing, highly novelized "Franklin County confidential."
As journalism, the piece is maximally non-journalistic. Mainly, though, it's a scary novel, a novel that's ugly and dumb.
We've written about several aspect of this heavily novelized tale. We've written about the segregated town pool which apparently isn't segregated and plainly isn't a town pool.
We've written about the Klan redoubts which almost surely aren't Klan redoubts. We've written about the highlighted statement below, a monument to pseudo-journalistic Current Derangement Syndrome:
NATANSON: The women had arrived two hours early to hang signs from the empty green stalls—a bedsheet reading “BLACK LIVES MATTER” and smaller posters saying “If I comply, will I still die?” They had set up a booth to register voters and another to encourage residents to complete the 2020 Census. They had ordered 20 pizzas from Domino’s.So cool! The Washington Post was repeating a scary rumor. It was repeating a scary rumor it didn't even bother to source.
Sun sparkled off an inflatable bouncy house, and children milled sticky-fingered in the heat, faces half-hidden behind columns of cotton candy. Three officers from the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office stood guard, summoned because of rumored plans to disrupt the protest, including a vow that the old boys of Franklin County would ride again that night.
According to this blindingly stupid rumor, "the old boys of Franklin County" were going to "ride again that night." Assuming the rumor really existed, did anyone really believe it? If so, we have a bridge to the minus-third century we'd be willing to sell them.
As a matter of journalism, you simply can't get dumber than that; there's just no way to do it. There's a good chance that no one in all of Franklin County is as dumb as the editor who was willing to wave that ugly dreck into print.
Don't get us wrong! Almost surely, there are some angry, unpleasant people in Franklin County, Virginia. The Post reports some of their (ugly) comments; it does so early and often. Sensibly or otherwise, the heavy emphasis placed on those comments and gestures helps make this a Scary Tale.
One pitiful part of this story remains—the frightening trip to The Hub. This takes us back to the year 1912. It helps us source the scary claims which drove this useless tale.
The Hub is a restaurant in Rocky Mount. It sounds like it's been there for quite a long time although, like everything else in this lengthy piece, that point never quite gets explained.
A scary trip to The Hub is described. Because so much is left to explain, we'll extend our report to the morrow.
Tomorrow: The source of these novelized tales