An Open Letter to White Supremacists

Hate mongering jerks,

I can’t stand racists and hate-mongers, regardless of their skin tone.  I don’t care if you’re Klan, neo-Nazi, Antifa, BLM, Nation of Islam, or a solo on-line hater. If you hate people because of their skin color, religion, lifestyle, what they eat, for whom they voted, or whatever other stupid reason you can think of, you need to stop, or at least shut up. We’re all weary of your crap. Hate groups like you are trying to become relevant again.  The media is happy to help you by showing you behaving badly on the news. Most people with two functioning brain cells know very well you are completely irrelevant to the world today and have no place in modern culture. Unfortunately, there are too many in this country who lack that second brain cell, so you keep existing and keep being displayed by the media. The rest of us, however, have moved beyond hating each other.

I am writing specifically today to the white supremacists out there to tell you to remove yourself from the debate concerning statues and monuments to Confederate soldiers and leaders, as well as other symbols, such as the flag bearing the St. Andrew’s Cross. There is such widespread ignorance of history and so many knees ready to jerk, it is difficult enough to fight to preserve my history from the other idiots trying to make a political point by hiding it. You do not represent me or my ancestors and I resent the fact you have adopted these symbols as your own. Each time I see you marching in public, ostensibly in defense of a Confederate monument or with the flag, I am offended and angered. Placing a swastika on a Confederate flag is an abomination and insults the memory of thousands of men who died for it. The thing is, you don’t care about history. You’re just using statues as an excuse to cause trouble and get a little press. If this were actually about the statues, why were your minions yelling about Jews while marching toward a statue of Robert E. Lee?  That makes no sense.  Men like Lee, Jackson, and Longstreet would have nothing but contempt for you. Of course, you don’t know anything about them, so you wouldn’t understand.

All you have accomplished is to allow the media to lump those of us who are proud of our Confederate ancestors but hate no one in with the likes of you. Yes, this is stupid and no, it isn’t fair, but regardless, that is what has happened. Just so we’re clear, even though I vehemently condemn the removal of Confederate statues and memorials, we are NOT on the same side in this. In no way do I support your twisted cause. You are more of a threat to my heritage than those who are actively trying to erase it. In addition, you are creating an environment where violence is inevitable.  Yes, it has tragically already claimed one life, but it can get worse.  I’m sure some of you think you want it that way. We’ll see when you’re the one who gets hit by a car.  This debate will not be settled through violence, but violence may well be what drives it.  I hope that is not the case.

My advice to you is crawl back into your mom’s basement, take off your little Halloween costume, unplug your computer, and maybe read a book. Even better, read one written by a historian.  Otherwise, I hope your hood catches on fire and your jackboots hurt your feet. If you can’t make yourself withdraw from this losing battle, I hope you and Antifa or whatever group of thugs are sent in to escalate the situation wipe each other out next time.  Just leave innocent citizens and those of us who truly do respect our heritage out of it.

With no respect whatsoever,



Preserve History and Reject Racism

I read with horror today about the unrest in Charlottesville, Virginia. It is incredible to me to see this in 2017. I know racism has always existed and always will, but it is still difficult to see. I do not know what groups were involved in the initial protest, but the media indicates they were ‘white nationalists’.  I’ll go with that for now as I have no way to independently verify it.  It also seems that Black Lives Matter and Antifa were represented, so there were all sorts of racist idiots in Charlottesville today.  Supposedly, all of this started over the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. I have written about this recently, as I feel very strongly the removal of all things “Confederate” is very disrespectful to those of us with Southern roots and shows a profound level of ignorance.  I think proposing to take down the statue was a mistake, but I do not believe all of this violence is about a statue.

No, I think this was an excuse for racist groups to start trouble. They wanted a fight and they wanted the press coverage they knew would come with it. The media was only too happy oblige, somehow lumping white nationalists with conservatives.  They act like racism began right after the election in November, but I digress.  In my opinion, the proper reaction to the planned protest would have been to ignore it. They want attention? Well, let’s give them none. I remember seeing two Klan idiots on the steps of the courthouse in my home town in Georgia. There was not one reporter, counter-protestor, or onlooker.  Everyone just went about their business like the pointy hat-wearers weren’t there.  Unfortunately, the maturity level required for that response is sadly lacking in the modern world, so enter Antifa and BLM, two groups every bit as hateful as the white nationalists.  The resulting chaos was sadly predictable and resulted in the murder of one person and injury to many others.  To be clear, I understand that none of this would have happened if the white nationalists had stayed home. The responsibility for the murder of one person, the deaths of two Virginia State Patrolmen, injuries to dozens, and the general pain in the butt created for the citizens of Charlottesville lies squarely on the shoulders of the white supremacists. Personally, I’d be fine if we could lock all these groups into an arena and let them fight it out.  It is time for this country to get past letting these irresponsible, hateful children drive the conversation. My history and the unity of this nation is more important than all of them.

For those of us who are proud of our Southern heritage and feel it is worthy of remembrance, we must reject those who persist in hateful rhetoric and actions.  They are not our allies. We must speak out against them whenever they rear their ugly heads. We need to fight against the erasure of our history using intelligence, logic, and facts, not violence. We must acknowledge that our ancestors were flawed human beings, just like every human in history. In spite of their flaws, they deserve to be remembered and in many cases, honored. Trying to erase my history is disrespectful and offensive.  It is time for everyone to accept that we can disagree and still respect each other.  To do otherwise is to expand the ever-growing divide between people which could actually threaten our culture.  There is simply no room for racism in the conversation. If the racists become the representatives of Southern history, we will most assuredly lose it.  How long will it be, then, before we repeat it?

Why You Should Not Fear Campus Carry

Social media has been active with the usual gnashing of teeth and cries of doom as Texas’ campus carry laws expanded to community and junior colleges.  Texas is one of 10 states where it is currently legal for licensed students and faculty to carry concealed firearms.  In 2004, Utah became the first state to pass such a law.  There are now 11 states where it is legal for a person licensed to carry a concealed firearm to do so on college campuses.  It isn’t quite that simple, as the laws vary greatly by state.  Utah, for example, simply said that state laws applying to where a concealed firearm can be carried apply on college campuses.  Tennessee is on the other end of the spectrum, as only licensed faculty and staff are allowed to carry.  In between, there are limits on where and when weapons can be carried and by whom.  Twenty one other states leave the decision up to the individual institutions, which is a de facto ban on campus carry.  It is expressly forbidden in the remaining states and the District of Columbia.

According to the anti-gun crowd, this is a recipe for disaster and calls for the usual emotional response.  Their protests are what we’ve come to expect and cover a wide array of knee-jerk reactions, but I have condensed them into five basic complaints.

  1. An increase in firearms on campus will lead to an increase in violent crime.  This is a common theme in just about every anti-gun protest and is simply not supported by the statistics.  Studies suggest the rate of firearms-related crimes committed by persons with a concealed carry permit is about 2.4 per 100,000 people, not even close to the 3,813 per 100,000 for the general population.  By all accounts, those who go through the training and red-tape of obtaining a concealed carry permit are more responsible and safer than the average citizen.  Based on my personal experience, those who carry a firearm on a daily basis are very aware of the responsibility which they have assumed by choosing to go armed.  In searching the internet, I was not able to find a single instance where a concealed-carry permit holder committed any sort of crime on a college campus.  That doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened, but clearly demonstrates the rarity of such occurrences.
  2. The college years are marked by excessive alcohol and drug use, which will lead to irresponsible gun use.  Drug and alcohol use are certainly serious problems among college-age students.  In every state, regardless of the laws governing campus carry, it is illegal to be intoxicated and in possession of a firearm.  Period.  It does not matter where you are or whether or not you have a permit.  If you are too impaired to drive, you are too impaired to carry a gun.  For me personally, I won’t even have a beer with dinner if I’m armed.  Legally, I could, but I have made the decision that I do not want any level of impairment if I have to make a shoot/don’t shoot decision.  We should be far more concerned with the damage done to students by binge drinking and driving while under the influence than drunken frat boys shooting up campus.
  3. College students lack the maturity and emotional stability to responsibly carry a firearm.  Tell that to the 18-21 year-olds who carry a rifle every day in defense of this country.  First of all, you must remember that in order to obtain a concealed carry permit, it must be legal for you to possess a hand gun, which means that you must be at least 21 years of age.  Some states allow for citizens as young as 18 to apply for a permit, but only if they are serving or have served in the armed forces.  We aren’t talking about children carrying guns.  We are talking about people our society considers to be adults.  Citizens.  Voters.  Yes, I know that not all 21 year-olds are created equal and I understand college can be an emotionally charged environment.  The pressures of maintaining grades, social interactions, and student poverty are very real.  Again, there is absolutely no evidence that concealed carriers are more likely to snap in such situations than other students.
  4. People carrying guns on campus will distract from the learning environment/create fear among students and faculty.  Why?  This is the least logical of the arguments against campus carry.  As we have already discussed, citizens with concealed carry permits are far less likely to commit a crime than the average citizen.  The more obvious question is, how will you know if someone is carrying if they are concealing the weapon properly?  That’s why it’s called “concealed carry”!  There are approximately 15 million people in the US today with a concealed carry permit.  Odds are (assuming you live in a state that actually aknowledges the Constitution) you walk by an armed citizen every day.  If you’re in a restaurant, you might be sitting right across from someone who is legally armed.  The only time you’ll know is if something bad happens and that citizen reacts.  Otherwise, you will never know who is armed and who isn’t.  How is that going to be a distraction?  The media is what creates fear, not legal gun owners.
  5. Campus and local law enforcement are sufficient to keep our campuses safe.  This argument holds as much water on campus as it does elsewhere.  When seconds count the police are minutes away!  If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you know I have nothing but respect for law enforcement.  They have a nearly impossible and often thankless job.  They do the best they can, but they can’t be everywhere all the time.  For example, the University of Tennessee Police Department in Knoxville has 54 commissioned officers.  There are over 28,000 students enrolled at UTK, along with over 1700 faculty and even more staff.  The Knoxville campus covers 910 acres in the middle of a city of just under 190,000 people.  That means there are 54 officers to keep nearly 40,000 people safe, assuming no one from the outside community is on campus.  Major surface streets run through campus, so there is never a time when others aren’t on campus. That’s about one officer for every 740 people.  Clearly, it is not possible for the police, in spite of their best efforts, to monitor the safety of all of those people.  The Virginia Tech shooting in 2007 is a tragic example.  It took the police 3 minutes to arrive on scene once the call was received, then 5 more minutes to gain entry into the building.  That’s remarkably good time given the circumstances.  Unfortunately, it was not fast enough to prevent the murder of 30 people.  Could a student or faculty member legally carrying a firearm have stopped this incident or at least reduced the number of casualties?  We can’t know the answer to that, but logic dictates any type of return fire would have at least distracted the shooter, if not put him down.  Even if it had caused him to panic and end his own life sooner, at least less innocent victims would have been injured or killed.

Sexual assaults on college campuses are becoming more prevalent.  If we continue using UTK as our example, the problem has grown significantly in recent years.  Young women are trained now to fight as hard as they can and make as much noise as possible if they are attacked.  This is good training, but only marginally effective.  Why should we hamstring a young woman’s ability to defend herself by not allowing her the most effective means of defense possible?  Why is it accepted that women will just have to be a disadvantage in a physical confrontation with a male assailant?  Young woman deserve to be able to protect themselves, to be empowered to go where they need to go when they need to go there, regardless of the time of day or whether or not friends can go with them.  Legally carrying a firearm is the ultimate empowerment.  This is one of the reasons why the largest growth in gun ownership in recent years has been among women.

So, what scares you about campus carry?  Nothing should.  In spite of what is being said, no one is advocating for sending hoards of armed teenagers off to college.  Rather, the object is for the laws governing the carrying of a firearm to apply on public college campuses just like they do anywhere else.  As a citizen, why does my right to protect myself end when I cross an imaginary line and enter the campus at UTK?  There are literally places where you’re on campus on one side of the street and off on the other.  Am I more of a threat on one side of the street than the other?  As a parent, I want my child to be able to protect herself when she goes to college.  Sure, I want her campus to be as safe as possible to begin with, but I understand bad things happen in the safest of places.  I hope she’ll choose to get the training and apply for her concealed carry permit as soon as she can legally do so.  Like most everyone who carries, I want everyone to be as safe as possible, except for those who seek to do us harm.  I want them to be scared.  Scared that the next person they decide to mug or worse will be the one to end their criminal career, one way or another.  I want the next lunatic looking for somewhere to go out in a blaze of glory to have a hard time finding a place where they won’t fear being stopped immediately by armed citizens.  Right now, most college campuses are giant targets of opportunity for such people.  Thankfully, the targets get harder every time a state decides to allow campus carry.  If your state doesn’t allow it, I hope you’ll contact your representatives and encourage them to introduce legislation which will change it.  If you oppose campus carry, I hope you’ll sit down and honestly think about the reasons why you feel the way you do.  Ignore what the media tells you and look at the facts.  I think you’ll see you really have nothing to fear.



The Rise of the Obliviots!

You’ve seen them. They walk among us every day. The person who leaves their cart in a parking space at the grocery store.  The driver who switches lanes with no signal. They are obliviots. I can’t take credit for the term, an honor that goes to my co-contributor here at TFA. Obliviots are those who are oblivious to what is going on around them and do stupid things because of it.  They drive me crazy!

I think they must use Walmart as a gathering place, sort of a home base or nest.  It doesn’t matter where the Walmart happens to be, there are probably more obliviots there per capita than anywhere else in that town (unless you’re in Washington, D.C., of course).  They’re in the parking lot, walking down the middle of the space between rows of parking spaces, or leaving their cart in a parking space, often within a few feet of the cart corral.  They’re all over the interior of the store.  You’ll recognize them by their carts parked in the center of the aisle while they study the ketchup.  You often see them in packs, parked side by side in the aisle to have a family reunion.  Their young are easily spotted as the obnoxious kid running loose in the store with no responsible adult within sight.  They are generally not dangerous in this environment, but care should be taken as they usually don’t pay attention when going from aisle to aisle and can run over you.

They are far more dangerous on the road.  I’m on the road a lot and there are days where there must be an obliviot migration going on! The texting-while-driving subspecies is the most dangerous.  You’ll see them up ahead, going 10 miles an hour slower than everyone else and barely staying in their lane.  I try to pass these people as quickly as possible. Invariably, I look over and the driver is looking at a device instead of the road ahead.  They’ll often speed up and pass you again after they’re done with whatever vital business distracted them from all that annoying driving. They also like to put themselves in the left lane and cruise along at their preferred speed, which is usually the speed limit or less.  The lane to the right of them is open, but that doesn’t matter.  The left lane is theirs and they’ll set the speed for everyone! I’ve seen them exit the interstate from the left lane.  They’ll also run up to where the lane is closed and expect you to let them in.  You really have to watch them!

Another sort of obliviot is what I’ll call the offended obliviot.  This one is offended by your religion, what you eat, your opinion, where you live, how you raise your kids, your holidays, how you choose to keep your family safe, the car you drive, who you voted for, and an endless list of other things which he finds disagreeable.  These people don’t realize that differing opinions are just as valid as their own.  Those with whom they disagree are described in any number of negative ways, usually racist, homophobe, bigot, etc.  They are consistently intolerant in the guise of promoting tolerance.

Without question, the most annoying obliviots are those elected to office.  They pass laws and make policies which affect us all, without any real knowledge of how most of us live our daily lives. They follow party lines and vote based on agendas serving only them.  They pass bills they haven’t read. They ignore their constituents.  And yet, more obliviots elect them into office over and over again.

The rise of the obliviot is upon us. They are the inevitable result of our lack of respect for anyone but ourselves.  It is the result of our focus on having an attitude rather than being polite to those with whom we interact.  It’s a simple thing to pay attention to what is going on around you and react in a proper manner.  It takes no extra time or energy to say “excuse me” or “please” or “thank you”.  How hard is it to watch your rear view mirrors or anticipate where your turns will be?  Unfortunately, it is less simple to deal with the elected obliviots.  All too often, our only choices are obliviots, but we have to keep working to find people who are paying attention and honestly care about the lives of their constituents.

In closing, I’ll just say that we all need to remember we are not the only person on the planet and we have no idea what the person next to us is dealing with.  We can all take steps to avoid being an obliviot and making a nuisance of ourselves.  We’re all going to fail occasionally, but it isn’t that hard to avoid most of the time.  Just pay attention and try to be a decent human being.  Don’t be an obliviot!