Fayetteville is like a lot of other modern American cities, I suppose, in today’s world of transient communities. So many of our fellow residents in Fayetteville might well be forgiven for believing we are just a prettier version of Springdale, Rogers or Bentonville.
But Fayetteville has something those other cities simply do not have have, and that is a history rich with social and political activism. More than any other city in Northwest Arkansas, Fayetteville is a “People’s Community,” because the men and women of this city have never failed to stand up for what they believed in, and worked to make change.
We know that you can fight City Hall, and academics, working class men and women and students have all stood shoulder-to-shoulder to fight for various causes.
Sometimes we battle each other, in the process.
One of the more polarizing figures for many years was Jay Cole, pastor of a local church.
Many knew Cole from his television commercials, in which he would peer into the camera and warn America that it needed to change its ways. Others knew him from the many times he would appear on local Christian talk radio programs, often with former KOFC host Johnny Tittle.
In the 1990s, Cole became the pastor of the Militia of Washington County, a group we hear hardly anything from at all these days. It was during this period that I took a group of Ozark Gazette staffers on a sort of “field trip’ to his Wedington Woods church in the bunker-type building, where Jay insisted on introducing me to the small congregation.
To listen to Jay Cole on TV or the radio could infuriate any liberal who happened to be listening, yet if you met him in person, his manner was soft and gentlemanly. Even though I cared nothing at all for his world-view, I liked Jay a lot on the occasions when we would meet.
In the last few years, that was usually in the waiting room of the doctor we both saw. Jay once told me that his heart was only operating at five percent of its capacity.
On June 7, Jay Cole’s ’s heart gave out.
Good riddance, some might say.
But I’m a little sad this morning.
I liked Jay Cole.
And I would never want to live in a city full of “good liberals.” It would bore me to tears. We need people like Jay Cole to keep us on our toes, and keep our wits sharp. They keep us from becoming intellectually lazy.
And when you meet people like Jay Cole and his wife Gladys - whose own heart must be breaking this week - it reminds us that on the street level, our opponents are human beings.
Quote of the Day
Every new opinion, at its starting, is precisely in a minority of one. —Thomas Carlysle (1795-1881) Scottish essayist and historian