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« N&R editorial | Main | NR & TRC »

Jun 04, 2006


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Thank you for your column. It appears that we read at least one important conclusion differently. Given the documentation in the GTRC report of the WVO members’ contribution to the welfare of NC residents, especially minorities, poor and/or workers in the region’s textile mills, it is clear that the group had a strong connection to labor issues. To discount this connection just because their primary goal was party organizing is like dismissing Republicans or Democrats as nothing but party hacks just because party organizing is their primary aim. I don’t think anyone disputes that either party is concerned with public policy, just as no-one can disagree that both parties’ main objective is to see their candidates win.

It is vital to understand the ‘causes’ that the WVO was pursuing in order to understand why they were so intent on their party overcoming. Likewise, it is important to understand the social/political background of the Klan and Nazis to understand their motives. And the difference in 'motives' is a fundamental difference in the 'threat' the two groups pose(d) to society.

Ed Cone

The Dems and GOP aren't party-building to foment violent revolution. Seems a distinction worth making.

I saw a lot more rhetoric than accomplishment documented in the report. Problems are identified, but few real results are shown. And giving the WVO/CWP credit for some good intentions does not justify their actions.

Also, it largely ignores the good intentions of others who approached the same issues differently.

Many people and groups worked and continue to work for social welfare and justice without violent rhetoric or endangering innocents. MLK Jr. and the kids killed in Mississippi worked for non-violent change and paid the ultimate price. For that matter the Cone family gave the community a hospital that treats the indigent regardless of their ability to pay.

To read the report, though, you'd think it was a lone band of truth-seekers versus the rest of the world. Theories of non-violent social change just morph into radicalism, and that's presented as a natural evolution rather than a tragic mistake. An era of vast social change -- too slow, too uneven, to be sure -- is portrayed as a time of stasis or reaction.

I have no problem with a history that gives the CWP version of the story, although I may disagree with some of it. For a report that is supposed to present truth and foster reconciliation, though, the perspective seems woefully limited and skewed.


Ed, regarding this paragraph:

"Also troubling is the statement endorsed by a majority of commissioners that "the single most important element that contributed to the violent outcome of the confrontation was the absence of police." Commissioner Bob Peters, the only attorney in the group, couldn’t bring himself to sign off on that one. As he noted in a concurring opinion, "the main wrongdoing must lie with the Nazi/Klan due to their violent hate language and their use of excessive force in the deaths."...

There's a clear distinction here: the single most important contributing factor that led to the event turning violent (police absence), and the heaviest burden of responsibility/wrongdoing(Klan/Nazis). The report and Bob Peters are in agreement.

page 38 of the Report:

"While we believe the highest responsibility for bringing about the confrontation lies with those Klansmen and Nazis who went to the parade intending to provoke a fight and ultimately opened fire on the demonstrators, the GTRC also believes that the deaths could have been prevented with visible police presence."

Since this is the second time you've mentioned it, I thought it worth noting. Did you speak with Bob Peters for some clarification? You said last time you found it "confusing."

Ed Cone

The disconnect between Peters and the other commissioners is there -- although I wish that the TRC, which refers frequently to the opinion of "a majority" of commissioners without telling us about the dissenting opinions, and which buries Peters' opinion in a hard-to-find place away from the main report -- was more forthcoming about it.

The report says "the majority of commissioners find the single most important element that contributed to the violent outcome of the confrontation was the absence of police." (my emphasis)

Peters says he has "a perspective that differs in some respects from that of the majority of the Commissioners," and says in his discussion of reponsbility.: "Much fault must also lie with the police."

Not "most," but "much." Two different points of view.


I dunno. The rationale I suggested seems more germane and more direct. Seems like you're stretching Peters' words a bit.

But, I'm content to say the language leaves some interpretation open to readers, such as the use of "majority" instead of naming names or numbers. I think that is probably by design, as they stated they were making decisions by consensus.

All the Commissioners' reflections were found in the same location, so it also seems unfair to suggest that they "buried" Peters' opinion -- if, by that, the majority of the Cone commission means to suggest intentionality.

Ed Cone

Where's the stretch? The report cites a "majority" for the finding of "most" fault; Peters says he disagrees in some places with the majority, and makes a specific point of articulating a different apportionment of fault.

As for the location of Peters' opinion, it is unique among the commissioners' reflections in that it involves a substantive discussion of material in the report, and in fact includes divergences from the report's majority conclusions. It is buried amidst the persona reflections -- may of which are interesting and worth reading, but none of which are divergent views by the group's only attorney.



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