I've read the review that Grif Stockley wrote of my book “On the Laps of Gods,” and since it basically questions my integrity, I hope that you will give me the opportunity to respond.
Mr. Stockley says that I didn't make any mention of his book except in a reference to the Stockley files in the notes section; in fact, his book is listed in the bibliography, along with Mr. Cortner's and the writings of everyone else who has taken a swing at this story. I know that he was upset with the Cornell West blurb, but that's a blurb, and not me, and I certainly do not make any claim in the book that I “unearthed” this subject or that I was the first to write about it.
But, that said, I do believe that “On the Laps of Gods” is the first book to provide a coherent, documented account of the killing that went on in Elaine. In his book, Grif Stockley reviewed the many anecdotal accounts or claims that many blacks were killed, and concluded that such anecdotes should be seen as evidence that a massacre occurred. What I was able to do — and I pieced this together from an exhaustive review of original sources — is map out the killings that happened in space and time.
Historians have long questioned whether federal troops restored the peace or became involved in killing blacks in a significant way; in “On the Laps of Gods,” I document precisely when and where the federal troops opened fire with their machine guns, and I have eyewitnesses to that killing, etc. And that is why the book jacket claims that “On the Laps of Gods” — which by the way is about much more than the Elaine Massacre — documents the massacre.
I actually wrote Mr. Stockley an e-mail expressing my regret that he felt slighted (I think what he wanted me to do was write a bibliographic essay on the history of what had been written about Elaine before, and as I said in the e-mail to Mr. Stockley, I wish now that I had done that). But I also understood the bibliography to be the place where you recognized all of the writers who had come before you, and whose work you went to school on, and I went to school on the backs of many, many writers.
An editing change by the Times of Grif Stockley's review left Whitaker with an erroneous impression on one point, which we regret. Stockley's original version said the bibliography failed to contain the full title of his book, “Blood in Their Eyes: The Elaine Race Massacres of 1919.” The full title, rather than just “Blood in Their Eyes,” would have alerted readers to the fact that someone had already concluded what had happened was a massacre, Stockley said. He said he was happy to let critics judge the merit of both books.
Now it's Obama
So, now that Obama has joined ol' “My Friends” McCain as a party nominee, the attention will soon start shifting to the veepstakes. Yes, Obama will face a lot of initial pressure to make the “easy choice” of selecting Hillary Clinton in an attempt to merge the 18 million people who voted for her into his camp. Many Democratic leaders and voters are calling for it. But, as we have seen throughout this campaign thus far, Team Obama has made the “smart choice” again and again, and I believe this time will be no different. The smart choice is not Hillary Clinton.
I could easily go into a rant about how Senator Clinton doesn't deserve to be on the ticket with Obama given some of her campaign tactics –- this is one Democrat who won't soon forget the disappointment I had over the many instances of low-ball politics employed by both Clintons during this primary. But not selecting Clinton for V.P. is much more than “na na na na boo boo” for me. Obama needs to select somebody who will compliment his message of change, bipartisanship, and long-held opposition to the Iraq War. Someone with extensive foreign policy experience who may ease people's minds about electing a relative newcomer as commander-in-chief in wartime. Someone who has a geographical advantage on the electoral college map. Someone seen as the type of political moderate that served Democrats so well in the 2006 mid-term elections. This person is not Hillary Clinton. This person is Sen. Jim Webb from Virginia.
Jim Webb is relatively new to politics, though his impressive military and Washington experience served as a major factor in his election to the U.S. Senate. His newcomer status makes him a change candidate in his own right. Perhaps most important is Webb's extensive military experience coupled with his opposition to the Iraq War.
North Little Rock
Letter writer Louis Anthes supports Barack Obama, the civil rights movement and affirmative action. A true civil rights movement wouldn't advocate discrimination against any ethnic group. He criticizes Orval Faubus but supports discrimination against white Americans in education and employment. That appears to be the same kind of “supremacist” thinking for which he criticizes Faubus.
Obama if elected president would likely expand affirmative action programs regardless of the reasons affecting black, Hispanic and immigrant employability. Those social forces are usually fatherless homes leading to a lack of education and discipline and poor English skills. And since many European-Americans care little about the rights of their own race anymore, it's easier to discriminate against us than to motivate these families toward greater educational achievement.
Obama was a member of a church for 20 years whose pastor taught hatred of other races. Obama belonged to that church for political expediency and now is trying to distance himself for the same reason.
Is America ready for a black president? If we are, he ought to at least be someone who can apply the law equally to all Americans. Someone who doesn't allow his resentment to control his thinking instead of his intellect. Obama's association with his pastor indicates he tolerated that message, a teaching that Orval Faubus would have never approved.