No Celebrations for Freedom Riders
 
From: wildbill4dixie@yahoo.com
To:  pelicanwatchcb@gmail.com 
 
Re: http://www.charlestoncitypaper.com/charleston/there-is-a-lesson-here-for-those-brave-enough-to-learn-it/Content?oid=3367184 
 
Not sure if I’ve ever written you before – I know that I keep stumbling upon your self-righteous, holier-than-thou blatherings more often than I care to, so perhaps I have. In any case, regarding your latest sanctimonious tear-jerker, let me run a few things by you. 
 
For openers, no one deserves to have a fist put into his face for trying to use a men’s room, whether the use of that men’s room constituted a violation of local law or not. Nor do one’s neighbors deserve to have a war of nerves inflicted upon them for 30 years, or whatever length of time you claim it was. And it is "nice", I suppose that Wilson apologized to John Lewis for that assault, though I think it would be nice if Yankel Rosenbaum’s family would receive a long overdue apology as well, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crown_Heights_riot. Last time I checked, they had not.
 
That said, let me stick a few pins in that happy-ass bubble of yours – 
 
First – You’ll pardon me if I don’t "celebrate" the freedom riders. I’m old enough to remember them, not old enough to have been one, but old enough to remember how adults I knew viewed them. And no, I didn’t grow up in South Carolina, or Mississippi or Alabama, I grew up in Providence Rhode Island. Those adults I knew saw them as trouble makers, outsiders who interfered in the business of others in a place where they were not wanted. 
 
Further, having grown up in the north and lived most of my life here, I can tell you with some certainty that if those self-styled "riders" really wanted to promote "social justice," that they didn’t have to get on a bus and travel a thousand miles to Mississippi. In the case of those who came from the NY city area, (and there were many of those), all they had to do was travel 35 miles east of Manhattan to Levittown NY, America’s first suburb. The driving thought behind the construction of that community was to give former WW II servicemen and their families a chance to own an affordable house in a pleasant, non-urban environment. Somehow though, that thought didn’t seem to extend to black ex-servicemen and their families. They were turned away and told to go live in Babylon NY, some 10 miles southeast of Levittown. And when I got out of college and taught school in Levittown for one semester in 1972, the community was still whiter than a klansman’s sheet. 
 
No, it wasn’t necessary for those freedom riders to go meddle in business which was not theirs. They didn’t need to go clean up someone else’s back yard. They needed to clean up their own. And Levittown was not an isolated case. As I said, I lived in Providence R.I. – on the west side, specifically. If you were black you didn’t even think about living on the west side. The Italian and Irish folks who lived there would have been somewhat less than welcoming. No landlord would rent to you. No real estate agent would show you a house. Go live in South Providence, where all the rest of the blacks live. It wasn’t codified into written law, but it was clearly understood! Celebrate freedom riders? How about instead – get the mote out of your own eye before you go sticking your finger in your brother’s eye!! 
 
Second – I know people who were alive when the freedom riders did their little thing and who saw them first hand. From what I hear, these young people weren’t the most well behaved bunch going. You may not be aware of it, but I’ve seen actual photos taken by local residents of the mess left behind by civil rights demonstrators and freedom riders of the early 1960s. I’ve seen less garbage in some landfills on Staten Island. And if I were a resident of one of those towns, I don’t suppose I’d be all that happy about a bunch of unwelcome out-of-towners turning my town into a dump. 
 
Funny how I never hear stories in the media about these kids leaving piles of trash strewn behind them, or how they delighted in having sex in public, or relieving themselves in public. If I had to guess, I’d say that a lot of them were looking for martyrdom. Bumps and bruises elicited by their anti social behavior were the proverbial red badge of courage for a lot of those kids. Sigmund Freud would have had a field day with them. Just because the media won’t print such things doesn’t mean that they did not happen. In my case, I wasn’t there, but I know people, people who were there, and people whose word I trust far more than yours. So you’ll pardon me then if I don’t get on my knees and worship at the temple of the freedom riders.
 
Finally, about Confederates apologizing for the war -none of the Confederates are alive unfortunately, but I’ve done quite a bit of research on them and my guess is that they would probably tell you that their sacrifice, albeit an unsuccessful one, was well worth the effort if there was any chance that they could escape being in the same union with self-righteous, sanctimonious gas bags like you. 
 
And as far as us "neo confederates" go, all I can say is – ditto. 
 
Sorry guy, no apologies today, no apologies, EVER! 
 
Have a Dixie Day and get over yourself. 
 
Bill Vallante
Commack NY