June 22, 2017

An apology tour


Jim Echols, the city editor at The Roanoke Times when I joined the paper in 1965, used to say “there are three sides to every story:  Your side, my side and the facts.”

Sometimes I forget that piece of advice when passions overtake reason.  I’m guilty of it more often than not and, when you write an opinion column along with covering news, I have a bad habit of getting on roll.

The escalating situation over the Confederate flag issue here in Floyd County and elsewhere in the nation is a prime example.  How have a strong bias in this cause because of the time I spent in Prince Edward County as a student when the school board close the public schools and funded an all-white private school that educated white kids and left black kids with no place to go.

When one has a bias, objectivity is the first casualty.  I lost my objectivity on the flag issue.  I agree with the state’s right to limit where it can or cannot be displayed on government property but I do not support banning the flag.  I do not believe statues and monuments to the Confederacy should be removed.

Some of my articles did not reflect such beliefs.  I went overboard.  That was a mistake and I was wrong.

Tim Boone have worked hard on a poker run that will feature what they see as positive aspects of the Confederate flag.  Sandy has since withdrawn from the event. There are those who consider the flag racist.  I think the flag is used by some for racist reasons but others have other uses.

My apologies to Tim for any pain my writings may have brought to them on this issue.

My apologist too to Tom Bell. I mentioned the use of his company parking lot for a display of Confederate flags.  Tom, of course, is free to allow anyone he wants to use his parking lot for any legal purpose and the display of flags is not against the law.

I also understand that Mara Robbins was blamed by some for some of my articles.  She did not provide any information used in any of them and I apologize if she was suspected of being part of some “grand conspiracy.”  She was not.

I lost my perspective.  My fault. I’m sorry.

(Updated on August 8).

2 Responses to An apology tour

  1. Well done. I don’t know what more people can reasonably ask for than a written apology accepting responsibility for being wrong and telling people by name that you are sorry. It’s good to see someone who is not too proud to do that.

    Blue Ridge Muse is one of the few blogs I keep up with and I often tell myself “that’s just his opinion” so I’m glad to see you call it an “opinion column”. I expect a lot of people take it as news, though, and so have a hard time separating opinions from facts.

    The war between the states ended in 1865 when General Lee surrendered to General Grant. Why the Confederate flag has been tolerated in America since then is a question I cannot answer.

    Many races have suffered oppression here in America and some of those injustices even continue today, however, that is not what the war between the states was about or what the Confederate flag represented at that time. Slavery was also common in the North even as the war was being fought, just not as common as in the South. There is no justification or excuse for how any human being mistreats any other human being.

    When this country was formed individual states were guaranteed the right to secede. Many would not have joined the Union without that guarantee. When a group of southern states attempted to exercise that right to secede the Union Army advanced against them, fired the first shot, and ultimately removed that right permanently. In effect every state lost their individual sovereignty when the Confederate army surrendered.

    During that time period the Confederate flags represented a political ideology that was opposed to the size and power of the Federal Government that we have today. I believe many of the Confederate leaders were honorable men with good intentions and more integrity than most of our current national leaders and candidates. While I don’t understand why America has allowed the defeated flag to continue to fly, I am glad to see statues remain to honor those men and what they stood for. The Confederate flag has a legitimate place in our national history, but it’s time is past.

    Thank you Mr. Thompson for your humility and for your discussion on this topic.