Letters to the Editor

Greever takes issue with Hilliard's column about displaying rebel flag

Dear Editor:

This letter is written in response to the article that ran in last week’s “My Turn” column. Along with everyone that I have spoken to about its message, I was surprised, hurt, and more than a little insulted at the picture it painted of this area. In one short article, the writer managed to bash America, farmers, the South, Mountain City and Johnson County, religion, conservatives, and white people. I’m still amazed that someone managed to put that much effort into what apparently started out as being intended to criticize the display of a historical flag and turned into “why you should never want to live in East Tennessee”.

There are a more than a few things that need to touched on that were out of line in the article, but I’m sure the Tomahawk doesn’t want me to take an entire page listing them, so I will only touch on a few. First off, we live on “stolen land.” Really? I thought I lived on land that I purchased. I’m reasonably sure most of my friends and family live in homes they bought or they rent. I did a little checking, and fortunately none of them are being prosecuted for stealing land. I sure was worried for a moment. What land exactly have we stolen out of curiosity? Are we referencing something that happened hundreds of years ago perhaps? Do we live in a country where our citizens should be punished for actions that took place centuries ago?

The city that I live in was built on the backs of slave labor? Odd. I thought I lived in a house built by my grandfather. Actually, from what I can remember, he built right around 120-130 homes in this county during his career as a carpenter. And last I checked he never employed any slaves. Come to think of it, I don’t anyone that has employed slaves in the last 150 years or so. Oh, this must be another point where everyone needs to constantly be reminded of a dark part of our nation’s past and not look towards the future. How silly of me.

The writer makes a point of stating that if you “aren’t of African American descent, you haven’t the right to tell someone how he or she should feel about slavery.” I agree. That’s why I don’t. I’m not so arrogant that I would presume to tell anyone what they should believe. Unfortunately, the writer seemed unable to follow their own advice since they spent a portion of the article attempting to tell people exactly how they should feel about slavery. Hypocrisy knows no bounds I suppose. I shouldn’t be surprised considering the writer also made it a point to explain they could say this all because of their right to freedom of speech…..all while ripping someone’s expression of freedom of speech.

There was also an interesting section where the writer made some sort of jab at religion, and if you are a religious person you have less moral rights than people who aren’t religious? Well, okay. That’s certainly an interesting viewpoint to have. I think most sensible people don’t assign levels of righteousness to the people they meet, much less people they don’t even know. Maybe I missed where I was assigned a certain level of morality in the past. I will try and find that license. It must have gotten lost in the mail.

Finally the writer managed to get to what seems to have been her point to start with, and begins to touch on the entire cause of the meltdown, and that’s the Confederate flag. Everyone’s favorite hot button “look at me and how progressive I am” subject. Let me begin here by clarifying that I don’t have a rebel flag that flies in front of my house. I don’t have it on a bumper sticker, and I don’t have one that hangs from the back of a vehicle. But for those that do, good for them. For those that hate it and want to see it burned, destroyed, run through a shredder or something along those lines? Well, good for them too. That’s the beauty of freedom of speech. Everyone has an opinion, and absolutely everyone is entitled to it. The problem comes when the government or individuals decide that they want to dictate to others what they should or should not believe. In all likelihood that flag was placed there because someone was proud of their Southern heritage. Or perhaps it was placed there as a symbol of the fact that we can still express ourselves without fear of repercussion. Maybe it was indeed placed there as some sort of statement in regards to race. I certainly don’t know. And neither does the writer of last week’s My Turn. But somehow that flag led to an article that essentially demonized our entire hometown and trashed it, going so far as to highlight what a better town Damascus is and how they never have politically charged statements at Trail Days. News flash, the past several years there has been an old Volkswagen Van that parks right on main street in Damascus covered in stickers and paraphernalia for the Democratic Party. I guess the writer managed to conveniently miss that.

Let me try and wrap this up and climb down off my soapbox. I’m proud of where I live. I’m not a big city type of fellow I suppose. I love our mountains, scenery, and sense of family. I like the small town feeling where you pass two dozen people you know on your way to work and they wave at you. I enjoy the fact that we haven’t gotten caught up in the nonsense that is so prevalent in America’s larger cities. Because once you get anywhere that has a decent sized population, you find a populace that lives in fear. Fear of what the person next to them thinks if they say something they don’t like on a phone call. Fear of having to watch every single thing you do lest you be labeled politically incorrect. If the people in our country would spend just a little bit more time worrying about what goes on in their own houses instead of what goes on in their neighbors, well, doesn’t it make you think we might have a lot less hate and anger in this world? But when you start to do things like judge an entire community, or state, or country, based on an assumption you made because you didn’t like a piece of cloth hanging on a stage, you tend go just a bit off the deep end it seems. If that should ever happen to me, rest assured I will be the first to say I need to move to an area where I can be happy and it not lead to me attacking the people I live and work next to.

Chad Greever

Shekinah encourages everyone to debate with civility and intelligence

Dear Editor:

The Confederate Flag; just mentioning this in some circles brings forth lively discussions about southern heritage, slavery, state’s rights and white supremacy.  My personal heritage is rooted in the West where the Civil War isn’t much of a concern as is mining, cattle and winter’s snowpack.  The Confederate Flag doesn’t hold much meaning to me and everything I have learned about its history has been a revelation. One undeniable fact I have learned is that the Confederate Flag has been adopted by people who have warped it beyond its original meaning.  It’s a symbol, and symbols do have a flexibility that facts do not.  I have read many opinions from Southerners who lament the Confederate Flag’s association with skin heads, the KKK and the many disturbed white men who have made news by shooting innocent people, the most recent being in Louisiana (as of this writing).  

There is no easy solution to this issue, one that only time, perhaps, will solve.  In the meantime, I ask that those intolerant to free speech hold back on their impulse to slander and threaten those who value our country’s First Amendment.  In the particular case of the Confederate Flag being displayed at our recent Sunshine Festival, I would ask our Chamber of Commerce to use a bit of discretion next year in balancing a “Southern Patriot’s” right to free expression with our county’s image in the eyes of visitors.  I am sure a civil discussion will resolve this issue eventually.


Dennis Shekinah

Wintroub calls out Commissioner Grindstaff for comments on liberty

Dear Editor:

Dear Editor:

I was shocked -- SHOCKED I tell you -- to read in The Tomahawk of 7/22/15 about county commissioner Jerry Grindstaff’s colloquy (or was it a soliloquy? I wasn’t there.) about liberty during the July 16 meeting of the county commission. According to the article, Jerry was explaining to a resident that protecting “liberty” is why the commission won’t do anything about “homeowners keeping junk cars, appliances, and other potentially hazardous items stored in residential areas”. Where was Jerry’s devout commitment to liberty when the motion to allow sale of beer on Sundays died for lack of a second? This was not a motion rejected by a vote of the liberty loving commissioners, mind you; it was a motion that couldn’t even get seconded. Not by Jerry Grindstaff. Not by any of those other commissioners who, according to Jerry, believe “in honoring people’s liberty”. Is this inconsistency in support of liberty a mere oversight? A case of “Oh, yeah! I never thought of it that way”? The figment of inaccurate reporting? Or is it just bald-faced hypocrisy?

Terry Wintroub
Mountain City, TN

Gallagher expresses her support for Lacy Hilliard’s column and opinions

Dear Editor:

Dear Editor:


In response to Lacy Hilliard’s piece in the July 22 edition referencing the confederate flag and its display at the Sunflower Festival, I would like to express my support for her opinion.

I was born in Tennessee and though I moved away twice, I had always wanted to return to make Tennessee my final home. I loved Tennessee not only for its beauty but also the beauty of its people. I remember kind, warm, caring people, and I knew I would be happy here. When I returned here 16 years ago, that is what I found and I knew I had made the right decision.

However, since I have been here, I have seen so many disturbing changes. It seems the area is filled with bigots and small-minded people who no longer care about their fellow man or woman. These people judge you on your skin color, your sexual preference, your particular lifestyle, your religion (or lack thereof). The display of the confederate flag at what should be a fun and family friendly festival was a sad affirmation of that fact.

There are those of you who say the flag stands for “state’s rights” and I guess you are correct if you believe the state should allow you to own another human being and hold him or her in chains and that he should be treated like just another piece of livestock. Or you say it is a symbol of our Southern heritage. We should be ashamed that we are proud of our fight to keep our slaves, not strutting around with our chests out in indignation proclaiming that the flag belongs in prominent display.

We have a small African American population in Johnson County and they deserve the respect and caring that we used to stand for. I guess what disturbs me the most about this whole mess is that the Christians in the community haven’t spoken up.

The confederate flag has stood for such sadness, not just as it relates to slavery but as it related to the segregation movement in the 60’s. The Germans do not display the Nazi flag just because it represents an historic time. Why then do certain people feel compelled to display the confederate flag? Not the same thing, you say? Of course it is. The Nazis wanted to keep their boots on the throat of anyone other than the blond and blue eyed. Personally, I do not see a difference.

Those of us who love this area and remember a kinder, more loving and accepting time need to speak up. I know the majority of us are not racist, let the rest of the county know it too by adding your voice to Ms. Hilliard’s.

Iris Gallagher

oak is thankful to residents for supporting Trade Community Center

Dear Editor:

Dear Editor:

The members of the Trade Community Center would like to personally thank all of those who came to our grand reopening of the community center grounds and gristmill last month.

Our day started off with a home-cooked country style breakfast made by the ladies of the community center, shortly followed with our shooting match which included cash prizes and items donated by Loui’s Backyard, T&T Outdoors, Mountain City Pawn and Crossroads Merchandise. Your donations are greatly appreciated.

Despite the scattered rain showers the car wash was a hit. Others chose to sit under our newly renovated upper pavilion and enjoy some good ole fashion Bluegrass music. Everyone was invited to tour the gristmill and our museum inside the school’s gym. Our day ended with an auction inside the school’s gym.

A big thank you to those that helped make our fundraiser a success. Please keep an eye out for more upcoming events.

Thank you all again for your help and support.

Lou Hoak,
Trade Community Center board member