Thursday, September 7, 2017


    The "Dreamers" are Americans.
    I heard a young would be nursing student talking about the 15 years he had spent in the US, becoming as "Americanized" as anyone else and now he and 800 thousand others are targeted. It is not only wrong, it is stupid!
     Donald Trump has lied again and while that is no surprise the scope of the reaction of Americans and certainly American business is. Almost everyone knows the idea of ending "the dream" is a repulsive violation of what we think and believe.
     Perhaps the opposition of business and industry and the law suits by states and others will help keep the dream alive.

Courtesy of Indiana Historical Society and Indiana University

(This is a repeat of a post first published September 15, 2014. The complaint and issue has again been raised)

     To quote Ed Murrow "this just might do nobody any good." To paraphrase his 1958 speech to the Radio TV News Directors Association (RTNDA), at the end of this a few people may misunderstand what I'm saying, but here I go.
      We need to find a balance point where those who wish to address and treat sins of the past do not also destroy history or use deconstructionism without restraint and/or the balance of intellectual buffers.
      A case in point-The Thomas Hart Benton mural.
Controversial when it was created in the 1930's it is said to make people uncomfortable now. Why?  The depiction of the KKK. An honest appraisal of Indiana history cannot ignore the Klan. 
       If you are disturbed by the Klan portrayal consider proportion and perspective. The hooded terrorists are counter weighted by a white nurse attending to an African American child. More visual counter punch is the left anchor of the Benton panel composed of the press, an editor/writer and reporter that challenged and broke the Klan's extraordinary control of Indiana politics and the 1920's Republican party.  
      The media's battle with the Klan is iconic. Pulitzer awards have been given. I was awarded a National Emmy for my investigative documentary of the modern Klan in America. I've been an enemy of discrimination and prejudice, including racism, sexism, ageism and other manifestations of bias. My body of work is deep in reporting on these issues.
      We should find a way to be aware of sensitivities without trying to edit the past. The mural is not, as some have said, a glorification of the Klan, rather it is a depiction of fact. Reality, regardless of pain or absurdity cannot or should not be retrospectively edited or worse, deleted. Knowledge dictates that we recognize historic truths.
     History appreciates with understanding and by sifting nuance and seeing things in context through an honest assessment.  Later we may come to advanced understandings, gain insight, change our minds, learn, discover information and evolve, but the ground from which we and knowledge derive is historic fact. What we see and call history must be understood not only in the context of our time-but in the framework of what people knew and did in their own time. 
     As a high school kid I spent time in the city room of the Indianapolis Times. A giant replica of the front page announcing the Times winning a Pulitzer for their investigation of the Klan adorned a wall. It made a huge impression. When I took the stage in New York to accept the national Emmy for my own investigation I stepped into a slip stream of iconic history. The Benton art tells part of that story. 
    Though you may think the behavior is offensive, the painting itself of klansmen and the burning cross should not be regarded as offensive in intent  but rather as part of that stream of history. In the painting the Klan is seen as small, yet the nurse doing good service and the press loom more significant and impressive.  And if you look carefully you will see the klansmen are dominated and overridden by circus performers. There was a time when most circus acts wintered in Indiana. I think Benton was expressing a bit of poetic contempt and mockery by that juxtaposition.  
     No the Benton mural is not offensive, and those who think it is are simply wrong. It is history and should be taught and respected as such. And as I study it again I am reminded there must always have been those who like to ignore or even forget as well as those who may be rightfully upset with our past, who would like to expunge it. We can not help but analyze by virtue of what we know, but we must keep in mind that we are only as effective as we are fully and historically informed. 
       We cannot change the past.


    See you down the trail


  1. Tom,

    Your words and thoughts are forthright and appropriate in capturing the accuracy of these events that need the honest acceptance of these historic truths. It would be fair and responsible for others who share their opinions nationwide to emulate your perspective.


    1. Lee, Thank you for your words. I agree that sharing a perspective is an important role in citizenship. I've come to a belief it is the most honest and best way we can manage through these times.

  2. Is that your grandchild Lana has on a leash at the seaside? She's growing like a weed if it is her.

  3. That is not Lana. But it is a wonderful moment as a mother safe guards her daughter's fascination with the Pacific waves.

  4. The Dreamers are exactly the people we want here. They work and pay taxes and in order to be approved by DACA they've been thoroughly vetted. Children are not responsible for the crimes of their parents and if these people are forced out, this isn't the America we all thought it was.

  5. Tom: Your words are an elegant statement of why the Thomas Hart Benton mural panel in Woodburn Hall Room 100 at Indiana University-Bloomington is an important interpretation of Indiana's role in the continuing story of our nation. Regarding D.A.C.A., I think President Trump did the only constitutional action that he should do, facing lawsuits from Attorneys General on all sides. It is rightly the role of Congress to legislate this matter without relying on the Supreme Court. Our elected representatives are cowards. A just compromise can be found that will protect those that are those most adversely affected while allowing law enforcement to perform its duty to remove the reckless few that ruin our "open borders" for the many that deserve to become a part of our national family.

    1. Jed-
      Thanks again for helping me understand the latest skirmish at IU. Thank you for your kind words.
      It is always good to read and hear your thoughts.
      I agree that our elected representatives are seriously deficient in courage, skill and intelligence.