Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Ghosts of Mississippi (more of your e-mail)

Here are a few more of your e-mail in regards to the Ghosts of Mississippi post last week. First, from Peter Sarrett:
Images make things real. They make the abstract concrete.

We talk about Good and Evil a lot. That duality forms the basis of much of our popular culture. But it's a Disneyfied, romanticized version. Popular culture doesn't often touch on true EVIL, because true evil is ugly, and difficult, and visceral, and disturbing.

With the Holocaust, we have an unimaginable evil captured on film. We have photographs of people dehumanized, made to wear Jewish stars on their clothing to distinguish them as Lesser. We have photographs of hundreds of people crammed into cattle cars, being taken away from their homes, family, and very lives. We have photographs of people stripped naked, standing forelornly in line for showers that aren't at all what they think they are, billowing smokestacks behind them spewing human ash. We have photographs of soldiers standing hip-deep in bodies, pulling gold fillings out of lifeless mouths. Not illustrations, not imaginings. Real photographs of real people. The abstract made concrete.

It's one thing to read The Diary of Anne Frank and muse about the bright power of her optimism amidst a life of horror and fear. It's something else again to see what ultimately happened to her, her family, her friends, her community, her people.

These photographs must be seen. They must be burned into every generation's memory, because as a human race we must never allow anything like this to happen again. Anywhere. Not in Bosnia. Not in the Congo. Anywhere.

Only by knowing evil can we truly stop it. And from what you've written about Eli, he can handle it. Especially with you alongside him.

This next e-mail is from DQ Guitar Advisor David Gloier:
I don't think he's too young to let him watch the documentary. I'll share a story:

Mid to late '70's, we had a ranch out in Cedar Creek, Texas. Ran about 300 head of Red Brangus cattle on it. I guess I was about 8 or 9 years old. We were really only out there on the weekends and had a caretaker out there during the week. His name was Ernest and he seemed like he was at least 100 years-old. He was black. I loved Ernest. When it came to people, my father judged them solely on who they were, not what they were. You were good people, or you were bad people, and that judgement was passed on integrity alone.

Anyway, I was a little kid and Ernest always called me "Sir" or "Master David". It made me uncomfortable, but I was too young to know why, and one day I asked my father about it. He sat me down and explained in detail why a little boy would be called "Sir" by a man older than anyone he knew. It basically boiled down to the difference between our skin color and the history behind it all. He didn't leave out one detail. I was stunned. I was 9. My world was so small. It opened up that day. I have no regrets about it. If we had had videotapes, DVD's, or TiVo, and a program like that for me to watch, my dad would have sat me down and made me watch it. I have no doubt.

I cherish that lesson. I think about it to this day. I still think about Ernest. We were friends. Nothing else mattered. We would sit under the shade of a tree on a hot day and he'd just talk with me. I learned acceptance during those days long ago. Good memories from what's starting to feel like long, long ago.

What's stunning to me about David's story is that it's not from the 1950s, but two decades later. I was in high school then. I had no idea about the world and what it was like.

What I decided to do, after all of your thoughtful and thought-provoking e-mail, is to  have Eli watch the documentary with me, explaining first that he is going to see some very graphic images of hatred, and that it will help him understand the Civil Rights era far better than any book ever could.

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