Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A Solution To The CWP-Nazi-KKK Historical Marker Problem

As usual, in this morning's News & Record editorial, Twenty-five words, the News & Record editorial staff pointed a lot of fingers and made a lot of noise but never got down to the brass tacks of the problem: On one side were people promoting a sign with very inflamed language:

“Greensboro Massacre — Ku Klux Klansmen and American Nazi Party members, on Nov. 3, 1979, shot and killed five Communist Workers Party members one-tenth mile north.”

Even the N&R editorial staff described it as terse-- a cowardly synonym for inflammatory.

On the other side are people who are afraid to see the story told. People who while claiming revisionist history don't want the history even to be recorded. Sad, so very sad.

Even members of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission have objected to the use of the word massacre. From Wikipedia:

A massacre is a specific incident which involves the deliberate slaughter of unarmed people, although a tight definition has never emerged

Remember, members of the CWP shot back. There were not entirely unarmed. Outgunned, unprepared for what they had gotten themselves into but not unarmed.

And nothing the CWP did excuses the Nazis and KKK members of their own crimes. They came there to kill and should have been punished as such. Had it not been for the involvement of police, FBI and Mayor Jim Melvin they would have been.

But not once does the News & Record Editorial Staff or the Greensboro City Council consider rewording the sign. Not a word is uttered about rewording the sign except in comment threads by yours truly and a few others including Christine Wilhelm who suggested:

"Death to the Klan March CWP & KKK-Nazis Shootout occurred near here November 3, 1979 at the former Morningside Homes Federal Housing Community."

Her sign tells the truth just as historical markers are meant to do. It might not be perfect but it's the first alternative I've seen. It was a tragic event, a dark day in our city's history and one we should never forget lest we be doomed to repeat it. A historical marker should be placed there, just not the proposed historical marker. If not Ms Wilhelm's wording then another but the original wording is unacceptable. And we deserve a City Council bold enough to say so.