Letter writer: Essay offers hope in dark times

Graphic by Lori Deaton

I stumbled across [Robert White’s commentary] in the recent Mountain Xpress [“Black Lives Matter: Enough Is Enough,” Nov. 30] and wanted to [say] how articulate, inspiring and timely that it is. Since what passed for an election in this country, I have been in a state of shock, but from the way the country has been divided, I anticipated it at some point. With the Republicans so dominant across the nation, a loss for Trump would merely pave the way for a less crude and amoral candidate with the same agendas.

The lies the undereducated white working class have been fed about the so-called stagnant state of the economy and unemployment by the political right (highest market in history/lowest unemployment in 40 years, in fact) has moved them to the Republican Party. The American dream, so unattainable! Why?

America has always been a racist nation, and since Obama was elected, it was like throwing fire on that latent ember. How so many people can vote against their own best interests by throwing their lot to the GOP since Reagan can be nothing more than successful marketing of cultural differences: abortion, race, gays, fear of  “the Other.”  How convenient to blame someone else for your failures. GOP obstructionism feeds that anger. Bullying, name-calling, shouting matches at town hall meetings ― Tea Partiers are good at that. The new norm that passes for political discourse.

[The] article caught me at an interesting time when I have been thinking about race, racism and civil rights during this campaign and how Obama has had to contend with obstructionism for his tenure. The political right in this country has become nothing more than fascists in blue jeans. Redistricting, gutting a key component of the Voting Rights Act and other actions to keep people of color away from the polls.

I have started reading about the unrest in the 1960s again, about the civil rights movement and anti-war protests. I think we need a movement of resistance like that again to reinstill what is valuable in this democracy: not grotesque wealth, not greed, not a new arrogant aristocracy, not acceptance of a hypocritical, amoral Christian ethic. None of this “wait and see” or occupy this or passive acceptance will work with this opposition power.

When my family moved to North Carolina in the mid-1960s from Chicago, I was shocked to find “white” and “colored” water fountains and restrooms. (In fact, there is a restroom like that under the sidewalk near the Vance Monument downtown.)  I cannot begin to understand what it is to be a black man in this country, when routine traffic stops become sanctioned police murder and inequality in the judicial system is a matter of course. When routine offenses become jail terms.

We are supposed to be an enlightened society; we are supposed to be a beacon of hope and freedom to the world, not a nation that embraces hatred, denial, physical harm and disdain for those of different colors and faiths and sexual orientation. Progressivism with all its faults has at heart a compassion, a desire to lift up the downtrodden and help those who cannot seem to help get themselves a decent life in this society.

I came of age in North Carolina as a bohemian flower child, a loner. Finishing high school in Greensboro was an adolescent nightmare: fights, rejection, an inability to fit in. I went to college at Western Carolina University in the late ’60s, and as a longhair was often the object of harassment and beatings by “good ol’ boys” in Cullowhee and Asheville. In Atlanta, a good friend and I were brutally beaten and stabbed by some men returning from a George Wallace “Stand up for America” rally! The anger has always been there in this nation.

Still, that doesn’t compare to what people of color have withstood for generations, centuries, and then the great civil rights struggle that was a hallmark of our progress in this country for equality. Giving black people the basic means to compete and learn and live in this society.  Are we going to turn our backs on all that blood, sweat and tears? We will not back down. We shall demand a continued social contract. We will not “hope and heal.” We will not compromise. Our nation has elected a “little man” with no vision. He will not be allowed to crush what is good and right in this country.

I am sorry I have taken so much of your time with this ramble. I had merely meant to [say] that I thought [White’s] thoughts and writing were beautiful, articulate and erudite. One of the best pieces that I have ever read in the Mountain Xpress. [He is] a good man, and individuals like [him] with courage and intelligence … do give me some hope in this dark and dire time and the struggle to come.

— Jay S. Gertz



Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

About Letters
We want to hear from you! Send your letters and commentary to letters@mountainx.com

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

11 thoughts on “Letter writer: Essay offers hope in dark times

  1. Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

    “I am sorry I have taken so much of your time with this ramble.”

    Me too

    • Lulz

      This guys is an elitist loon.

      College deferment in the 60’s? Check.
      Hippy? Check.
      Hates whites? Yep

      Notice he gives no circumstances to his supposed mistreatment? Was he spitting on or harassing returning GI’s from Vietnam? Probably. Is he a communist? Oh yeah. Does he still live in the past? You betcha.

      He talks about unemployment figures yet does not mention those that are either underemployed, given up on seeking employment, or are making money in the underground economy. Says the stock market is up yet doesn’t say that it’s because of government money being invested into it. But he’s dishonest and mainly with himself.

    • Richard B.

      Me too, But I can understand, with the trauma you experienced as a longhair young man, why you cannot get past your past.

      You are one angry dude. As I have suggested to Mr. White, it would be in your own best interest to clear your fogged worldview lens with some effective therapy. Also, indulge yourself in readings other than the popular let’s hate America literature. I highly recommend the compelling and very well researched books authored by Martin Duggard, Bill O’Reilly’s “Killing” series….Jesus, Lincoln, Kennedy, Patton, Reagan, and his latest, Killing the RIsing Sun. Reading American history other than progressive tomes in no way minimizes the trauma that you, Mr. White, and thousands of other Americans have experienced. And it does not legitimize those who are truly racists and perpetrators. It simply widens ones perspective. And it may come about that opening your mind to other experiences, – heroic, positive, and courageous, – opposite to those sad and evil ones that you experienced, might help you cope with the present and anticipate the future.
      Also, it is good therapy. You will not gain much credibility when you continue to lambast and separate yourself from your fellow citizens, and continually deride and downgrade the society and culture in which you have chosen to spend your life.

      And please do not come back with a reply that I have no idea what you and Mr. White have experienced. It is insulting and makes you appear as a condescending, superior being who looks down with disdain from your high moral ground which you have claimed for yourself.

      The bad you experienced does not make “uneducated white men” bad, or this country bad, or Republicans bad, anymore than uneducated African Americans or any other race makes us bad.

  2. boatrocker

    So you’ve been in a ‘state of shock’ have you?

    Real lefties like Micheal Moore and Bill Maher (who stick to their guns even when it hurts) correctly predicted who would win this dirty election based on our penchant for
    ‘how it feels’ vs ‘how it is’. I’m guessing the free press suddenly matters to you now vs. news from Facebook? And where were you for boycotting American businesses that supported keeping us deaf, dumb and blind like Tommy?

    When the left grows a backbone and a pair, and ‘Murica gives up ‘news’ about lizard men, Pizzagate, and Hillary ‘offing’ political opponents
    (just for the record, all false), then maybe we can pull out of our ideological self-imposed tailspin.

    Until then, your whining only emboldens the altright and their prescribed take-home test of assigned vocabulary words like snowflake, puppies/hot chocolate and disdain for all things fact.

    Dude. In plain English, you’re making us look bad.

  3. KD

    Hey, hey, ho, ho, another useless carpetbagger has got to go! haha! Mr. Gertz, look at your life story you rambled on about….look closely and take a hint, you and your carpetbagging family were not and are not welcome in this once independent nation. Relocate to a blue state or emigrate to Canada, heck head down to the socialist paradise of Cuba for all I care, but please stop with the same old Yankee carpetbagger BS, your side got slapped down yet again at the polls…to paraphrase President Barack Hussein Obama, “Elections have consequences, and at the end of the day, you lost!”

    • Lulz

      Amen. I love the line vote against their best interest. Ya know, because this elitist knows about working for low wages caused by illegal immigrants. And then brandishes his own hate by labeling others as racist if they speak up. But his hate is good in his twisted mind. And even funnier, these loons claim to have thinking skills and intelligence above others. Yet they need to be TOLD what to say or think. Because if they could think, they would see that it isn’t racism that is the root cause of their defeat. It’s simply survival. And how the government has become detrimental to the survival of mainly whites.

      • The Real World

        “Yet they need to be TOLD what to say or think. Because if they could think, they would see that it isn’t racism that is the root cause of their defeat. It’s simply survival.” — Exactly right. I keep waiting to hear a reasoned, cogent argument from a Democrat on almost any topic but my hair is turning gray. They sling some flame-throwing comment out, I’ll ask for more info and virtually always get in response an unsubstantiated, silly soundbite they heard from the TV. Amazing. Sometimes, I actually feel embarrassed for them.

        As I’ve been saying all year, liberalism in the 21st century is a religion — they’re told what to think, not to question it (and clearly they fear doing so b/c you don’t hear them openly taking issue with their religion), to repeat simplistic mantras, loudly accuse any heretics or opposition of anything, defend their astonishingly corrupt prophets, claim victim status constantly, ETC!

        But, how interesting, look above — Boat(awfiz)Rocker, has finally woken up (sort of). Even more shocking is to read that a Dem has taken responsibility! Gasp……did I read that right? Best not let HRC or Obama hear such because that would be grounds for expulsion. No, no…..maturity, independent-thinking and assuming responsibility messes up the entire liberal shtick; that will not do. He’s going to get a pink slip.

        The reality? The issues that concerned Trump voters ARE NOT NEW. People have been speaking about them FOR YEARS. It is indicative of just how brain-hijacked the Dems are that they needed to have their teeth kicked-in to finally HEAR IT. And, yes, it is about survival — for the country, the economy and for personal independence.

        • boatrocker

          correction- both houses in Congress as in Senate and House o Reps being GOP controlled, just like Schoolhouse Rock taught us.

  4. Phil Williams

    The title of this article is somewhat misleading. Mr. Gertz gives some praise to Mr. White’s article in his first and last paragraphs and almost everything in between is a long jeremiad about how awful the United States was and is and will most likely become.

    Except for that bit in the next to last paragraph where he tries to emulate Churchill’s “we shall fight them in the hills” speech. I reckon he wants Asheville to be known for the fierceness of her left-leaning transplants.

  5. Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

    “I reckon he wants Asheville to be known for the fierceness of her left-leaning transplants.”

    What a laugh. Asheville is filled with a bunch of POSERS!

    • Phil Williams

      Yes – reminds me of that old 30’s ditty about “Slumming on Park Avenue”….

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.