One group is responsible for most violence -- why?

July 18, 1998|By GREGORY KANE

MANY THANKS to John D. Stees of Glencoe and Martin "Mitch" Tullai of Lutherville for weighing in on the "U. S. Grant as slaveholder" debate.

Stees wrote that Grant and his wife owned two slaves whom they didn't free until after the 13th Amendment was passed.

"According to one story," Stees continued, "when Grant was questioned why the slaves had not been freed at an earlier date, he allegedly responded that ' cheap help was hard to get.' "

Tullai, a writer, lecturer and history teacher at St. Paul's School, sent several pages from a book documenting the Grants' ownership of slaves. Grant freed one of the slaves, William Jones, and "reject[ed] an opportunity to sell him for much-needed cash," according to Tullai's source.

Thus we have yet more context in which to place Grant's ownership of slaves. Context helps us keep a sense of perspective. And speaking of perspective, some fans of "Gone With the Wind" seem to have lost theirs.

Maryland critics of my column disparaging GWTW sent letters and faxes and left phone messages so thoughtful, erudite and logical that, for about a tenth of a second, I considered rethinking my position. Not so with some of our brethren farther ++ south. Some were reduced to apoplexy. Some were borderline certifiable. I may have to join the Witness Protection Program, dress in drag and change my name.

But even the looniest GWTW fan showed more perspective than Lloyd Allen Wright, who wrote from Las Vegas regarding Camille Cosby's curious notion that Grant's mug shot on the $50 bill was in some way connected to Mikail Markhasev's shooting her son to death. Wright's is one of those "gotta read to believe" letters. Please remove the young 'uns and those with weak hearts from the room as you read this.

"Why you would attack Camille Cosby while she is in the throes of deep despair over the murder of her son by a vicious white racist? After I read your article, I called The Sun to get your fax number. As I was walking away from the phone I suddenly received the impression that you were a black person. I immediately called back and asked whether you were an 'African-American.' The person answering the phone, a female, PTC hesitated and said 'Ah, uh, yes.' My suspicion that I had smelled a rat, a black conservative, a modern day Sambo was verified.

"Mr. Kane, you are a mean-spirited, insensitive, cruel savage. You imply that she should be grateful for justice rendered, that everything is just fine, since others are not always the beneficiary of justice. You seem to be an apologist for white racism, like Thomas Sowell, Clarence Thomas, Armstrong Williams, Walter Williams, Ken Hamblin and the hundred other black conservative Sambos.

"My God man, I just can't understand why you would want to attack this lady. Because she received appropriate justice regarding the murder of her son does not negate the cause of the murder -- sick, vicious, American white racism.

"Wherever this murderer learned his hatred for black people, he committed a murder of a black citizen in America, a person he called a 'nigger.' Yes, I smelled a racial rat after I read your article in the [Las Vegas] Review Journal. Yes, a real Sambo. Sambo was a favorite of the slave owners and helped to maintain a stranglehold on the slaves. He was not the proverbial Uncle Tom, who was not a vicious traitor to his people. You are a modern day Sambo.

"Oh yes, you also wrote an article extolling the qualities of a member of the KKK. That really reinforced my image of you as a vicious Sambo. You definitely have mental illness that encompasses racism.

"There really is no hope for your type of shiftless shuffler who bows at the altar of American white racism and attacks its victims. Hopefully, my truth is the light that makes your ignorance take flight. You are a sadist who inflicts a lot of painnnn. Mr. Kane, please apologize to the fine lady who is

experiencing deep sorrow."

Wright mentioned in his postscript that he is a World War II Marine veteran "who was forced to ride in the back of the bus while being trained to fight for the rights of Americans, rights that I was denied."

Earth to Lloyd: In many ways, your mind is still on the back of that bus. Please stop wallowing in the oppression of your ancestors and haul your mind into the 1990s, where you and Camille Cosby still need to learn about context and perspective. Specifically, you need to consider this: What do Ennis Cosby's murderer, skinheads in Russia and throughout the world and the black homeys in America's urban centers who kill more black men in a week than the Mikail Markhasevs of the country kill in a decade have in common?

Maleness. Violence in America and throughout the world is a gender, not a racial, phenomenon. Instead of moaning about the suffering of ancestors who, to paraphrase Malcolm X, "caught more hell than you ever saw," you -- indeed, all of us -- need to ponder the cultural and biological dimensions of male violence.

Pub Date: 7/18/98

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