Dowdell displayed intolerance and hate, too

Paul Davis
Columnist
Published: May 4, 2009

You are an elected official, a minister and dream of one-day being regarded as some sort of civil rights leader. You are failing on two out of three items of your agenda. I’m not in a position to comment on your prowess in the pulpit, but if it follows your public acts, you most likely also are failing your flock.

You still do not understand some of the basics about being a man, an elected official and a community leader. You must always choose your battles very carefully. You must be prepared to be magnanimous in your victories, humble and forgiving in your defeats and possess the ability to distinguish between the things you judge to be either victories or defeat.

Your most recent efforts to make yourself into something you are not was sad, and yes, almost laughable in many ways. You chose the wrong place to march — strut might be a better word.

Pine Hill Cemetery was your choice and you strutted in the face of people decorating the graves of loved ones. How dastardly.

You apparently didn’t take the time to review the law or your own humanity. You were standing on private, deeded property and on the chests of the great, or great-great grandfathers being honored by their relatives.

You pulled out of the ground those small Confederate Flags which were to honor Confederate dead. Then you added further insult by saying you wished you had torn them into shreds and burned them and stomped them into the ground.

Would that make you six feet tall, seven feet? Would that make you a better man in some way?

You said you find Confederate flags to be offensive. Many others do, too. Still thousands more see it as an emblem of another time and place and also as a symbol honoring their dead kin. And, yes, Nazis and skinheads fly that flag as a symbol of their intolerance and hate.

You displayed a lot of intolerance and hate, too. Truly famed and truly honorable civil rights giants of the past also broke what they believed to be unjust laws. They were handcuffed and taken to jail. They continued their fights in the courts and in the halls of Congress. They marched in the streets, not on revered ground.

In neighboring Macon County, there stands a monument to Confederate soldiers in the town square of Tuskegee. That city also has a statue of Booker T. Washington, a museum named in honor of George Washington Carver, and streets honoring Rosa Parks, who was born in Tuskegee.

There will never be a bronze statue of you in a public place. You don’t practice tolerance, you do not seek accommodation, you do not choose your battles wisely, nor do you fight them with honor.

I’m sure your mother taught you early on that a thick, hard scab was a welcome sign that an old wound was healing, nature’s way. And I’m equally sure that her next sentence was the sound advice not to pick at that scab.

In America, people can burn the American flag, much to my chagrin, and they can wave the Nazi flag. They can do those things under the protection of our Constitution and our courts. Those are called civil and constitutional rights. And, I believe right now, you understand that those rights extend to those people buried in Pine Hill Cemetery and the people who take pride in honoring them.

Sir, now it’s time to offer your apologies to the people you have personally offended and to the city which you seek to serve. That might really make you seven feet tall in this land that has just elected a black president and the first of his race to ever hold that office.

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