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« N&R fishes in blogger talent pool | Main | Rummywatch »

Apr 16, 2006


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Needless to say, the job of the Task Force - John Young's group - was not to do historical research or come up with findings about the event, it was to craft a selection process and a mandate for the Commission.

Therefore Wheaton's point about her book being left out of the Task Force process -- and how this represents "the height of irresponsibility" -- is moot. She's confused about the process, and in that she resembles much of Greensboro, but this self-serving tack makes her look a bit foolish as well.

Add to the list of things worth noting that neither Young nor Wheaton have any access to or knowledge of what the Commission has or has not studied. They are chasing shadows, and are stating the obvious -- that survivors are biased -- over, and over, and over again, and seem to want everyone to herald them for it.

I have no idea what the goal of playing this out in the newspaper is, but since these opinions stem from a base of no actual knowledge, facts or evidence about the Commission's work, it smacks of personal agendas not dissimilar from those of the CWP survivors.

It seems everyone's getting their jollies playing the long-suffering white liberals. It's a shame they're doing it at the expense of the Commission, who might actually have some very useful things to say to our community in a month.

That Young and Wheaton have, without cause, made it more difficult for us to listen and receive it in a fair and open spirit is patently obvious.

Ed Cone

Why does this make it harder for people to receive the report?

It's either superfluous to a complete report, or a vital adjunct to an incomplete one.

People have been commenting on this project all along, from any number of points of view. That, to me, is one of the most valuable parts of the process -- if people are actually listening to each other.


The innuendo is specious. To me, it is the equivalent of spreading word on the street that so-and-so is having trouble paying their mortgage, and therefore might have robbed a bank. It creates a cloud of doubt and suspicion that is unfounded and unnecessary. How can that be anything but harmful to the Commission and the community's ability to receive its work?

Wheaton: "...the survivors' faction on the task force declared crucial information off limits."

Inaccurate at best, but more like an out-and-out lie. Either way, the Task Force's mission wasn't to examine factual information, so it's a shadow puppet.

"...the foundation for the work here was based in large part on the manipulation of evidence and the exploitation of good-hearted people..."

Really? Who manipulated what evidence? Who exploited whom? Surely you know dates and times, places, and have seen the documents, then. What's that? You don't know exactly, you just feel that that surely must have happened? I see.

If there's been manipulation of anything by anyone -- Jim Melvin, Nelson Johnson, Joe Schmoe -- I'd like to know it. To know it, I would require proof other than paranoia based on words and deeds 27 years ago.

"...the independence of those charged with setting the standards for an inquiry is absolutely essential."

The implication: the Commission is not independent. The evidence: none.

In fact, the independence of the Commission was deemed "absolutely essential" by the very people Wheaton is attempting to smear: the Project and Local Task Force, who wrote that independence into the Selection Process and Mandate.

This seems like a silly game, and I'm not at all sure what's motivating anyone. I do know that it's irresponsible to "voice concerns" in a manner that plants seeds of doubt based on inaccuracy and the total absence of validating information, and those who do so should be held accountable by the community.

Regardless, fighting this out now on the Editorial page is a ridiculous exercise when we will have the Commission's Final Report in a month. Then, if this is any indication, the spin will really begin.

Ed Cone

Unless you know what the commission is writing, Chewie -- and I find the lack of transparency into their process a bit disappointing -- then you, too, are speculating.

It just doesn't seem so harmful to me. It seems like people talking about the truth of 11/3. That's what we want, and have wanted all along, isn't it?

Does the commission now own the truth, or the ability to talk about this stuff, including its own process?


If you think it's helpful -- ever -- to deal in unfounded accusations of unethical behavior, or to encourage or reward the airing of such in a community, then we disagree.

If you're going to use the content of the report -- how many times they quote Jerry Tung, for instance -- as evidence of bias or the lack thereof, that's very small thinking in my opinion. There are plenty of people in Greensboro whose minds are already made up about this event, and they will be simply looking for the report to fall in line with what they "know". I hope you're open to learning something you may not have known or thought about before.

What Young and Wheaton have introduced is an assertion that the Commission is tainted by the CWP. For this, they offer no proof, no testimonials, no late-night conversations with a Commissioner -- just their own view of the events of Nov. 3rd and its participants, both largely based on Liz Wheaton's dated research from her 20-year old book.

The Commission was either manipulated by someone(s), or it wasn't. They either considered all sides and tried to be fair, or they didn't.

I don't know the answer on any of those counts, and neither do John Young or Liz Wheaton. The difference is, I'm not monopolizing the public conversation with a hypothetical set of "could-be's" that's geared to my personal beliefs on the subject.

I'm reading into your disingenuous question about the Commission "owning the truth" and your disappointment in their "lack of transparency", and I'm seeing more advocacy for a particular point of view than you put forward in your original post.

Ed Cone

Actually, I think JY is working from more than supposition about the degree of influence the survivors have had on this process. He's been watching carefully from the start, as have I, and I share at least some of his concerns.

My feeling is that John has tried to help the commissioners by publicizing a part of the story he sees as underrepresented in the public conversations to date.

My disappointment in the relative lack of transparency is long standing, and not driven by any agenda beyond a desire for a solid, public process. I wish Jill had blogged more and better about this whole thing at the T&R blog, I wish the commissioners had given her encouragement to do so, I wish the commissioners had not disappeared from public view as the report was written.

Disingenuous? Damn, Chewie, no need to start questioning motives. I'm just saying that I see a greater value in this process than the report itself, and however good or less good it is when it appears, the discussion in the community is the real point here.

I've said since the beginning that the report will speak for itself. I hope it speaks well. But regardless, there is more to say, and more worth hearing, and I feel no obligation to shut up and wait for one (central and important) component of this process to appear.


Maybe facetious is the word I was looking for.

Ed Cone

No, I think it's an important point, I'm trying to get a handle on it.

The Commission report is vital, and of course we won't know what's in it til next month...but some of the arguments against Young seem predicated on the idea that other voices should fall silent on these matters. That seems wrong to me.

Meanwhile, trying to influence the direction of the report seems like a valid choice, too.

Part of the idea all along is that this whole big mess belongs to all of us.


The community-wide debate about what happened on November 3rd and why should continue. That's a beneficial side effect of having the TRC in town. The Commission is not (nor is it meant to be, I think) the last word on the subject.

Seeing as how the dominant narrative in Greensboro has always been "shootout between two equally reprehensible fringe groups", the CWP and the Klan, it's odd to say that voices reiterating that story are now being "silenced." As if. The News & Record will run that story until the day it craps out, and the City Council will back it up.

The CWP survivors are hardly a power and privilege bunch. Their version of the story has not been the dominant one -- it's hardly been acknowledged, except with scorn and derision. I don't think we have much to lose sleep over here; they're nowhere close to taking over the history books.

Further, I don't see how asking people to refrain from impugning the Commission's integrity without evidence can be equated with "silencing voices."

Holding Young and Wheaton up as martyrs for truth is quite ridiculous. They're just repeating what everyone has been saying about Nelson Johnson in the Sound of the Beep and letters to the editor for 27 years.

My beef with their articles has nothing to do with that, but with their insinuation that the seven members of the Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission is under his thumb.

Conjecture is easy to come by. Evidence, please.

John D. Young


I have been a strong supporter of the Commission since day one. I think they have shown independence during the process. The Commission is not under the thumb of the survivors.

The survivors deserve and have been heard with statements, books, articles, marches, many church and community events for 26 years. They deserve every opportunity to make their points and be heard. They were the central force in developing this valuable process. However in this community process other alternative views to those of the survivors' narrative are also worthy. The key point about community dialogue is that all views are of value. I hope, building up to May 25th, more people start participating in the dialogue about Nov. 3rd. Perhaps the most important dialogue will begin once we have absorbed the Commission's report. A central idea of the process is for some community reconciliation to develop from this community dialogue.

sean coon

this is an interesting thread for me to follow -- as a recent transplant to greensboro and the brother of the documentary filmmaker who exposed me to this story about ten years ago.

what i saw was the "death to the klan" footage and the worked up protestors and their skirmish with the klan... assault and battery charges at best.

but then i saw the klan escalate a fight with sticks and stones to multiple homicides with pistols and shotguns.

forget about the police (non)involvement at the rally...

forget about ed dawson -- the police informant (on the payroll) who was riding with the klan that day and told the police that the shooting was going to go down...

do remember that a handful of men -- caught on tape executing 5 people -- got off and the city paid their civil trial fines (~$400k if i remember correctly).

someone please explain the bias issues at hand to this johnny-come-lately yankee.

Andy Coon

I really have nothing to say on this matter besides lets wait and see what the commission has to say about the matter and go from there. I do have an opinion about Ms. Wheaton. I was at the public hearing when Ms. Wheaton gave her testimony to the commission and to be quiet honest about it, she seemed to me as a sweet lady waving her finger at the CWP and saying your typical worried mother that, "you play with fire be prepared to get burned." or "you'll shot your eye out." I'd say it was very heavy handed against the CWP.

Granted they did start the aggression against the Klan but it does not make it their fault that they were slaughtered. As I researched my documentary I was dumbfounded and disgusted by the overwhelming evidence of planning and destruction between the FBI, ATF and KKK/Nazi group.

Enough everyone knows the story... I just wish we could keep our ideals about how the commission gathers their information and decides how to interpret it. Especially in the N&R, regardless where it it is published in the paper. What's next quoting the sound of the beep.

On a personal level, back in 2001 the N&R wrote a nice article about my documentary, "Greensboro's Child." The day before my documentary was to air on public access I got a phone call from a reader of the N&R and was ridiculed about my documentary. Someone had a preconceived notion about what I was representing before it was to air. That is why I suggest we wait to see what the results are from the report then we can tell if they were biased on one side or another.


John, I appreciate that, and know that you're supportive of the effort. I wish you had included some of that sentiment about the independence of the Commission in your article. Your focus on the behavior of the survivors at this moment, a month before the report -- while it is an important part of the story -- gives a lot of people an excuse to dismiss this effort entirely. If you, a participant in the process, are asking whether the Commission is being fair, it provides "proof" for a lot of people that this is just a sham intended to advance the survivors' version of events. You've lived in Greensboro long enough to know how easy it is to play into those hands. I'd hoped you would make it clearer to both the N&R readers and to Liz Wheaton that you still have faith in the Commission's endeavor to be fair to everyone, if that is indeed how you feel.

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