MSG 023: Andy Traub

digital entrepreneur

 

Andy Traub

Digital Entrepreneur is a job description that didn’t even exist a few years ago and now there are people everywhere making a living and a difference in the world strictly via the internet.

There’s a community of these guys in the historic town of Franklin, TN, 20 minutes south of Nashville: Michael Hyatt, Jeff Goins, Jon Acuff and the guy in this episode, Andy Traub.

Andy has made the journey from his childhood home in Indiana, to Sioux Falls, SD and now he’s living in Franklin with his family.

In this episode Andy talks about how he got where he is and most importantly, all of the people who have helped him along the way.

Andy writes on faith and family at takepermission.com and on digital media at digihowto.com. You can also check out Andy on periscope at @andytraub

How Southern Gentleman Take Care of Their Community

There’s a tradition in the south of men taking care of problems in the community. They would just get together and figure out the best way to deal with the issue. No press. No social media. Just serious men, taking care of the community they cared about.

This story is one of the best examples of that process I’ve ever seen.

The integration of Marshall Space Flight Center

How Sen. John Sparkman, Milton Cummings and Woody Anderson helped save Huntsville’s space industry

By Bob Ward

A telephone call in 1964, or a pair of calls, may have played a crucial role in saving NASA‟s beleaguered Marshall Space Flight Center for Huntsville, and for Alabama.

Government leaders all the way from the White House to NASA Headquarters to Marshall Center at the time were alarmed and frustrated that the field center was unable to attract minority engineers and other such technical applicants to come for job interviews.

One important reason: Fifty years ago it was impossible for visiting blacks – or any blacks, for that matter – to get a decent hotel or motel room or dine at a first-rate restaurant in town because racial segregation ruled.

In a detailed 1997 book interview just now being made public, prominent local automobile dealer C.W. “Woody” Anderson recalled that he received a phone call one day in early 1964 from Huntsville cotton broker-turned-aerospace magnate Milton Cummings. The then-chairman of the board at Brown Engineering Co. – and later the namesake of Huntsville‟s sprawling Cummings Research Park — wanted to see Anderson right away on “some things.”

Anderson and Cummings were well-acquainted. They served for years together on the board of directors of the then-First National Bank, and both were active in Democratic Party affairs. “Milton and I had bumped shoulders,” Anderson said, “and I had a hell of a lot of respect for him.”

Two of Cummings‟ closest friends were Congressman Bob Jones of Scottsboro and Huntsville‟s U.S. Sen. John Sparkman, the national party‟s 1952 vice-presidential nominee on the ticket with Adlai Stevenson. Anderson in 1964 was the chief North Alabama confidant and political patronage contact of George C. Wallace, who was governor at the time.

The wealthy Cummings had called Anderson from the Huntsville Country Club and asked him to come out and meet with him that day. Upon arriving, the Woody Anderson Ford dealership owner and development investor asked, “Well, what you got on your mind?”

“I just got a call from John Sparkman,” Cummings replied, according to Anderson. “We got a serious problem in Huntsville, Alabama – one that, the way it is handled, is going to chart the growth of Huntsville.”

Cummings said Sparkman had just left Lyndon Johnson‟s office and had said the nation‟s new president “is madder than hell because they (Marshall Center) can‟t get anybody to come to Huntsville (for employment interviews) other than lily-white males, mostly.”

According to Anderson, Cummings also quoted Sparkman as saying that “Johnson is sincere enough about this thing, (that) unless we can find some way to bring some black people into the community to work at (Marshall), it is going to cease to be.”

The three Alabamians were well aware that Johnson, as vice president, had headed the National Space Council. They knew he insisted on seeing Texas get its fair share – or more – of the U.S. space pie. Marshall Center, although in a growth mode with the Project Apollo moon- landing effort fully under way, had been in existence just four years. And it didn‟t help matters that George Wallace was railing against the federal government at every turn.

Johnson, in the wake of President John Kennedy‟s assassination, was the prime mover for enactment by Congress of the 1964 Civil Rights bill. Johnson signed the act into law in July of that year. It included measures barring “places of public accommodation” – such as hotels and restaurants – from turning away racial minorities. And federal installations were required to have a percentage of minority employees that approximated that of their communities or areas.

About the same time, both NASA boss James Webb and Marshall Center Director Wernher von Braun were carrying the message of equal employment opportunity in speeches to North Alabamians.

Anderson said he asked Cummings, Why me? The Brown Engineering chief replied that he “didn‟t want to call somebody that couldn‟t or wouldn‟t do something about” the situation at hand. “I know you can help and I think you will help,” Cummings added.

Personally, Milton Cummings was known to take a liberal position in most matters of race. When his church board voted to deny membership to minorities, Cummings had resigned from the board. He championed several causes to help the community‟s poor, including blacks. He went on to lead the creation of a private local organization to promote the recruitment and hiring of minorities by missile and space contractors, and saw to it that a highly regarded black executive was hired to run it.

When Cummings pointed out to Anderson that the only place a visiting African-American could get a room in the Huntsville area, aside from a private residence or boarding house or two, was a barebones, 14-room, black-owned motel, Anderson said he began to get the full message.

The car dealer was a substantial stockholder and president of the corporation that owned the new Kings Inn, a 180-room hotel – segregated, of course — on busy North Memorial Parkway, and its fine, popular, 150-seat restaurant. Anderson in the interview proudly described the property as “THE hotel in Alabama” at the time. (He also revealed that when a black person appeared at the registration desk, the clerk on duty would covertly press a button that turned on the “No Vacancy” sign outside. The clerk would then say, “I‟m sorry, but didn‟t you see our „No Vacancy‟ sign? We just don‟t have any [rooms].”)

Anderson said Cummings got explicit with his request: “I want you to make a number of rooms at the hotel available to the black community” and to any blacks from African countries such as Nigeria.

An incredulous Anderson responded, “Do you know what you‟re asking me to do?” And Cummings answered, “Yeah, I know it is going to be tough but in years to come, it will be looked at as a major decision for our total community,” for Alabama and for “the whole wide world,” given the international reach of Marshall Center and U.S. Army missile work at Redstone Arsenal.

“Woody, it is important that we do this,” Cummings implored. Thousands of jobs in Huntsville hung in the balance.

If the Kings Inn is desegregated, what happens if white people boycott the hotel and its restaurant? Anderson said he asked Cummings. “He said, „They possibly will but we can handle that.‟ I said, „Well, how are we going to handle it? What are the stockholders going to say if it starts to lose money?‟ He said, „You and I will buy it.‟ He would put his money where his mouth was.”

Anderson recalled telling Cummings that he couldn‟t give him an immediate answer, that he‟d have to sleep on it, get his partners together, and get back to him in a day or two.

But Anderson didn‟t wait. He called a meeting of the Kings Inn board members and shareholders for 4 o‟clock that afternoon. He and a building contractor each held 28 or 29 percent of the stock. The other director/shareholders were local businessmen in commercial development, lumber, real estate, insurance and other fields. All were Southerners.

Anderson said he gathered the group in “executive session” in his office at the hotel. He laid out Cummings‟ urgent request and its background. He told them what was at stake. He told them that both he and Cummings knew not to take the Texan LBJ lightly.

“Of course, Lyndon Johnson was a dictator within a democracy,” Anderson observed in the interview. “I don‟t mean that to be critical. He was a doer, and when he said something, he wanted it to happen. And when he shook his fist, he wanted the forest to fall.”

In the closed session of the Kings Inn partners, arguments pro and con were made. The men spoke their minds. Practically all strongly opposed desegregation of the hotel. Some of the language got rough, Anderson remembered. He said the “heated discussion and hard bargaining” continued into the evening – and beyond.

“We stayed there all night long and I could not get a majority vote to do it,” recalled Anderson. Then, at last, shareholder Vance Thornton, an insurance and realty agency owner and a past president of the Huntsville City Council, broke the ice, making the motion in favor of the proposal, Anderson said. “We finally got the resolution passed whereby we would integrate the hotel….”

Then the delicate task of carrying out that momentous change without fanfare began, with Anderson taking the lead. The plan was to avert publicity, avert a rush of blacks on the hotel, avert noisy celebrations and any other disruption there. It was a time of lunch-counter sit-ins and other civil rights demonstrations in the city, Anderson recalled, even if they were fairly low-key, nonviolent events.

The plan for gradual, no-fuss implementation of the change called for a number of steps to be taken.

One was to quietly contact several of the community‟s black leaders – including some like Dr. John Cashin who were openly supportive of the sit-ins and demonstrations – share the decision with them, and secure their cooperation.

Another step was for Anderson to meet with a key official at the then-Alabama A&M College, Leander R. Patton, the traditionally black institution‟s widely respected business manager. The purpose was to ask his help in discreetly getting out the word there but making sure that 50 black students didn‟t descend at once on the Kings Inn wanting rooms.

Anderson also called George Wallace and informed him. The governor, he said, was supportive. The fact that “Alabama was getting a pretty bad thrashing” in the news media at that time was probably a factor, Anderson noted.

He said Wallace offered to help in any way he could – including calling out the Alabama National Guard to keep the peace lest major “problems” erupt … problems like the Klan showing up to protest, problems like violence.

(The Huntsville power broker took pains in the interview to defend his good friend Wallace. He claimed Wallace‟s main race-related concern was forced school busing. Despite the governor‟s “Segregation forever!” image, “he never hated one person in his life,” Anderson insisted. “…George Wallace was never, ever, ever a racist. He was an opportunist and he took whatever opportunity was at hand to be elected…. You do whatever it takes to win. Then, after you win, you can do something about things.”)Another action Anderson took involved breaking the color barrier at the Kings Inn Restaurant. He called a black funeral home director, R.E. Nelms, explained the situation, and invited him to be the first African-American to dine there. Anderson met beforehand with the restaurant‟s manager and staff to ensure that things went smoothly.

But things didn‟t go smoothly.

On the chosen day, Anderson escorted the mortician into the restaurant, selected a seat for him, and seated himself across the room where he could observe. A waitress took the special customer‟s order. When the meal was served, it was a disaster, the steak inedible. The diner gave Anderson a signal they had agreed upon in case any trouble arose.

Anderson said he went into the kitchen, ordered that another, proper plate be prepared for his guest, and threatened to cancel the restaurant‟s lease if anything like that ever happened again. It didn‟t.

From then on, everything at the hotel and restaurant went well, Anderson said. Several days after the restaurant incident, “a (black) couple came in and another came in, and on and on. Pretty soon the restaurant was serving everybody….”

The week after Nelms had dined, blacks began registering at the hotel. “We opened the doors and started … accepting all comers – blacks, whites, Indians, whatever – without advertising,” Anderson recalled. “There was no fuss, no bother, no nothing, it just went off. You wouldn‟t believe in a hundred years that it could happen in Alabama in 1964 and not have a lot of bloodshed.”

The news media knew nothing about it, he remembered. It took about a week or so before townspeople began learning of the changes taking place at the Kings Inn. The most powerful banker in the city, Beirne Spragins, chairman of First National – on whose board of directors Anderson and Cummings sat — “heard about it, and he called me and said, „God bless you. I am glad that you did this.‟ ”

Others from the business community “finally started calling and (saying), „By golly, things are going all right.‟ … Strangely enough, I got more calls from people complimenting me for it than I did against it.”

Of the hotel director/stockholders at the all-night meeting, Anderson recalled, the most outspoken, roughest-talking one came by the auto dealer‟s office and apologized, even if it was six months later.

So the big step was taken. Cummings had believed it could happen, believed it must happen, and Anderson had led the way to making it happen. Other local hotels, motels and restaurants, sooner or later, followed suit.

Minority job interviews and recruitment increased at Marshall Center and at its contractors‟ facilities. The crisis had passed.

“I am totally convinced that Milton Cummings – I give him all the credit for it, because if he had not thought it, it would not have happened,” said Anderson. “I just happened to be in the right seat, or the wrong seat – whichever people want to judge – at that time.” … “I felt like, for the good of the community, what Milton and I did was the right thing to do.”

In the end, Anderson was inclined to give some credit to another source.

“I‟m not as religious as I ought to be, but I will guarantee you one thing: Somebody,

somewhere was out there holding my hand as we went through that…. I guess God was just looking down on us.”

It had all been worth it, he said.

“In my honest opinion, if that (Kings Inn desegregation) had not been done, (Marshall Center) would have been moved to Houston, Texas. No doubt about it.”

Woody Anderson, whose Ford dealership still bears his name, died in July 2003. Cummings had died in March 1973, Sparkman in November 1985, and Wallace in September 1998.

Bob Ward is a former editor of The Huntsville Times and the author of the 2005 biography “Dr. Space: The Life of Wernher von Braun.” The material above was part of his research for a planned biography of Milton Cummings, which was not completed

I Love Being From The South

I really do love the fact I grew up and have lived all of my life in the South.

Great heritage. Great People. Great Food.

I love how you can drive 10 minutes out from any city and the clock gets turned back 30 years. Or I can stay in a city like where I live, Huntsville, and can hear 15 different languages and accents in 30 minute of people watching at Starbucks.

The South is where stories are still important. I think it’s because we were one of the last places to get electricity. People had to make their own entertainment and knew there were facts and skills that needed to be passed on to future generations. No tv, battery powered radios, meant you had to talk. Tell stories about the past so the next generation was prepared for the future.

If you asked me to name just one image that best represents the South I’d say front porches. Rocking chairs squeaking against porch floors are sometimes the only sound needed. True southerners know and understand the value of just being in the same space with other humans. No words. Just the occasional sip of sweet tea or good bourbon.

Our House in Tuscaloosa. I miss my porch

Our House in Tuscaloosa. I miss my porch

Another great thing about living in the South is manners. Not just common “please” and “thank you’s”, but treating people like people, not servants. I hate seeing men treating young women like pieces of meat. Modern Southern Gentleman treat older women like their mother and younger women the way he wants his sister treated. Don’t be that weirdo who tries to pick up the waitress, bartender or golf course beverage cart girl. And damn sure don’t do it if you’re over 40. That’s just creepy.

I love the fact some of the smartest men I’ve ever met did not have much in the way of formal education. They may not have been able to use the proper term but they could fix anything. They didn’t have a degree in finance but they knew you couldn’t spend more than you made for too many years before you went broke.

I also love the southern men I know who have tons of letters after their name: PhD, MD, JD, etc. None of them think this sets them apart. It’s just what they wanted to do. Most of them are also very teachable. They know how little they know.

I love living in the South.

MSG 022: Chris Lilly

chris lilly 2

Chris Lilly is a great example of the 10,000 hour rule. A rule that says to achieve world class expertise in any skill, a person needs 10,000 hours of the right kind of practice.

Chris definitely practiced the right way. He was taught by a man who had been cooking BBQ since he was 15 AND he was learning how to cook the recipes of legendary pitmaster Big Bob Gibson.

And make no mistake, Chris is an expert. 10 time world BBQ champion and 4 time world grand champion of Memphis in May BBQ Festival.

In this conversation we talked about a wide range of topics

-His love of all kinds of cooking
-His need to have multiple projects going. Which explain his TV appearances and why he created a tv show that helped introduce America to competitive BBQ.
-The future of Big Bob Gibson’s now that the 5th generation, Chris’ son, has joined the business

Don’t miss the last 15 minutes of the interview when Chris talks about his dad and what he’d tell 18 year old Chris Lilly.

We recorded this interview in a corner booth at Big Bob Gibson’s because Chris’ office was full of his projects. You’ll hear normal restaurant background noise until the last 15 minutes or so. At that point a group sat down a few booths behind us and really enjoyed their lunch!

Enjoy!

Click here to get a copy of Chris’ book Fire and Smoke: A pitmaster’s secrets

The (almost) Painless Performance Review System

If I gave you three options to choose from to do tomorrow, which would you choose?

Door #1-root canal
Door #2-fill out tax return
Door #3-get your annual performance review

I think most guys would choose door 1 or 2. Who wouldn’t? Sitting down with your boss so he can point out your weaknesses is never fun.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Performance reviews don’t have to be more about what you’re doing wrong than what you’re doing right.

We all have weaknesses that need to be corrected. I believe most guys want to get better. Men want to know how to improve.

Leaders and bosses just need to figure out the right way to review a man’s performance

3

In this installment of 3’s, I’m going to show you a simple and effective system for doing performance reviews. A system that will allow a leader/boss to give straightforward feedback to help a man get better without getting bitter.

Let’s call it

The (Almost) Painless Performance Review System

There are tons of performance review systems out there.

  • 360 appraisals-Where everybody reviews everybody else.
  • Bottom up appraisals-Employees rate the boss.
  • Giving employees a letter grade, like school.

Each of these have one thing is common, they’re complicated. So complicated, most employees don’t even understand what they need to work on before the next review. Which is bad, because there’s nothing worse than getting yelled at for something you never knew you needed to correct.

The (almost) Painless Performance Review System solves these problems.

You don’t need an app, you don’t need a binder, all you have to remember is three words:

STOP
START
CONTINUE

The brilliance of this system is not only its simplicity but also the order of the words.

STOP

When you begin with STOP  you get the worst part of a performance review out of the way. Every guy knows what’s its like sitting there wondering what you’re going to get slammed over. A lot like waiting to see the principle when you were a kid. But this way, you get it over with first. Then you can spend the rest of time learning how to improve.

CAUTION-Never EVER have a STOP without a START.

Never tell an employee what NOT to do without telling him what to do. Bosses who do this are not being fair. But I’ve seen it over and over throughout the years.

STOP is simple. “Stop coming in an hour late, leaving an hour early, and taking a 2 hour lunch to make up for it.” The START for this one would be, “Start observing office hours.”

STOP is where you going to find out where you are driving your boss nuts. STOP is also where you discover how to NOT get fired. Just STOP it.

START

This one is mostly informational. START is when you let an employee know about new initiatives, policies, even where the company is heading in the next year.

Like, START using the new TPS cover sheets (give yourself 10 bonus points if you get that reference. Leave a comment with the name of the movie and the horrible boss).

START can also be used to provide negative feedback in a somewhat positive way. “Bill, you need to START responding to emails more quickly.”

CONTINUE

Now we get to brag on or be bragged on. CONTINUE is when we heap on the praise.

  • “CONTINUE serving our customers well.”
  • “CONTINUE mentoring the new guy.”
  • “CONTINUE doing what’s right, instead of what’s necessarily the most profitable.”

When you finish up a performance review with CONTINUE, everybody leaves on a positive note. The employee is ready to go to work knowing that he’s doing a good job. The boss/leader knows he was able to motivate his employee which hopefully means he’ll continue to do good work.

One Final Thought To All The Bosses

Helping an employee improve should always be the goal of any performance review. A performance review is not the place to get revenge or say things that have been making you mad all year. When you have an issue with the performance of an employee, address it immediately.

BONUS TIP

Use STOP, START, CONTINUE to evaluate your own life. Do it often. Have a spouse or trusted friend look over what you wrote down and allow them to have input.

3 Components of an True Apology

  
Another lesson in organizing a man’s life by 3’s

What?

Is there a worse feeling in the world than when you realize you screwed up? It’s deep down in the pit of your stomach.

And you KNOW it. Theres nobody else to blame. No way to dodge or spin your way out of it. It’s just you facing the fact you screwed up.

So What?

Why is the feeling so visceral? Why is it so intense? 

Because you know you’ve now got to do the worst job in the world: apologize. 

Not just a quick “sorry”, but you’ve got to figure out how to undo the mess you made. 

It’s bad enough for a guy to know he screwed up. But it’s a thousand times worse when he knows other people know he screwed up. Especially people he respects and cares about. 

But now he’s got to apologize. Which is the same thing as admitting weakness.

And that’s something no guy ever wants to admit.

Now What?

But real men have to apologize a lot so you need to learn how.

Any good apology has 3 components

I’m sorry

Every guy knows this. But the hard part is you can’t stop here. Most of the time

just saying “I’m sorry” is the same thing as “I’m sorry I got caught”. 

Saying “I’m sorry” lets you off the hook in your mind. You don’t have to own it like you should. Which is why it seldom repairs the damage you’ve done.

Which is why you have to move on to step 2.

It’s my fault

this is the one that really sucks. You don’t spin. You don’t avoid. You never ever say “but”. Nothing but “it’s my fault”.

You take full responsibility for your actions. 

What can I do to make it right? 

The good news is after you get past 1 and 2, you’ll almost enjoy this one. Because it’s going to feel like you’re moving forward 

There you have it, 3 steps to apologizing like a man. 

Read it

Learn it

Live it

the old man, a boy and a donkey

An old man, a boy and a donkey were going to town. The boy rode on the donkey and the old man walked. As they went along they passed some people who remarked it was a shame the old man was walking and the boy was riding. The man and boy thought maybe the critics were right, so they changed positions.

Later, they passed some people that remarked: “What a shame, he makes that little boy walk.” They then decided they both would walk!

Soon they passed some more people who thought they were stupid to walk when they had a decent donkey to ride. So, they both rode the donkey.

Now they passed some people that shamed them by saying how awful to put such a load on a poor donkey. The boy and man said they were probably right, so they decided to carry the donkey. As they crossed the bridge, they lost their grip on the animal and he fell into the river and drowned.

The moral of the story? if you try to please everyone, you might as well… Kiss your ass good-bye.

The 3 Legs of a Modern Southern Gentleman

  
Three legged stools are the ultimate in simplicity. It doesn’t have anything it doesn’t need. But it needs everything it has. Remove just one leg, any leg, and everything falls apart.

The same thing is true in this installment of The 3’s.

  
When it comes to being, living and behaving like a true modern southern gentleman there are 3 simple components. But all three are necessary. Remove any one and everything falls apart. 

The legs that make a modern southern gentleman are

Moral Code
Work Ethic
Common Sense

3 simple components that will empower ANY man to:

  • Get and keep a job
  • Stay out of bankruptcy court
  • Get a woman to marry you
  • Raise great kids

And  maybe the most important, leave the world better than you found it.

Moral Code

Every man has to decide how he’s going to live his life. How will he treat women? How will he raise his kids? Church? If yes which one? What level of dishonesty will he be comfortable with? What things will be on his list of non-negotiables?

All of these and more are based on a moral code.

I know what mine is based on but here are some guidelines to help you develop yours:

Can you find people in history who have adopted the same moral code? How did their lives work out? (read about dead guys)

What do people you know and respect base their lives on? How has it worked for them?

But in the end, every modern southern gentleman has to decide what the foundation of his life is going to be.

Work Ethic

Life is hard so you better know how to work. 

It doesn’t matter if it’s making a movie, recording a song or building a house, it’s all just work. Just showing up and grinding through it. 

It’s not sexy or easy but the sense of satisfaction a guy gets when he knows deep down he’s put in a good day’s work, can’t be achieved any other way.

Common Sense

I’m not talking about how many degrees you have or how long you spent in school. I’m talking about knowing how to survive life. 

Call it knowledge of the obvious.

Like knowing you can’t spend more than you earn without eventually going broke. 

There are only two ways to get common sense: experience or the experience of others. Trust me, take advantage any time you have the chance to learn from the other experience of others.

That’s the 3 legs of a modern southern gentleman. Learn and apply them and you’ll be on course to a having a life any man would want to live.

Flags, History and Censorship 

There’s no way a blog called The Modern Southern Gentleman could stay silent on the issue of what flags should fly over what government buildings. So here’s my thoughts.

Why Did We Fight A War?

If the main reason for the Civil War was state’s rights as many say, the fact remains the cause will always be overshadowed by the specific issue people chose to rally around: the owning of another human being. I have a hard time believing the folks who wanted less interference from the federal government back then, couldn’t find a better hot button issue to fuel their cause.

As proof slavery was the driving force in the secessionist movement, let’s look at the designers of two of the flags for the Confederate States of America, including the one on the General Lee.

William T. Thompson

The first is Savannah newspaper editor, William T. Thompson.

Thompson was the main designer of the second flag for the Confederacy. Here’s what he had to say about the flag and the cause it represented.

second flag

“As a people we are fighting to maintain the Heaven-ordained supremacy of the white man over the inferior or colored race; a white flag would thus be emblematical of our cause.”

—William T. Thompson

 

“As a national emblem, it is significant of our higher cause, the cause of a superior race, and a higher civilization contending against ignorance, infidelity, and barbarism. Another merit in the new flag is, that it bears no resemblance to the now infamous banner of the Yankee vandals.”

—William T. Thompson

Not much question on where Thompson stood on the issue of owning another human being and if it was worth going to war over.

William Porcher Miles

The other flag designer, William Porcher Miles of South Carolina, was an interesting guy. Miles was an attorney who also served as mayor of Charleston, where the Civil War started.

In a nutshell, Miles was a Fire Eater, a group of extreme secessionists who not only supported slavery but wished to resume the slave trade with Africa. He said slave trading laws should be left to individual states and the federal ban on owning another human being was an insult to southern honor.

His personal philosophy was summed up when he said he wanted to protect and preserve:

“southern rights, the equality of the states under the Constitution, and the honor of a slaveholding people.”

and then he said this about his perception of the North’s intentions:

“They are not contending for an abstract principle — they are not influenced by a mere spirit of fanatical opposition to slavery … they are deliberately, intentionally, and advisedly aiming a deadly blow at the South. It is intended as a blow. It is intended to repress her energies — to check her development — to diminish and eventually destroy her political weight and influence in this confederacy.”

It seems clear to me the main reason William Porcher Miles became a secessionist, was he wanted the owning of another human being to be legal. He wanted this because he believed in white superiority.

This is the same man who designed the flag that was originally rejected, but would later be adopted as the battle flag for Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. Otherwise known as The Stars and Bars.

stars and bars

So the roots of the flag are the owning of another human being. No matter how many men who didn’t own another human being died defending that flag.

States Rights

States rights is a just cause. A cause we should be taking up today because the tenth ammendmant to the Constitution makes it very clear the founding fathers never intended for the federal government to ever be as large and overpowering as it is today:

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

Let’s just choose a better issue to rally around than the owning of another human being.

Slippery Slope

I hate the phrase “slippery slope”. Mainly because it’s used by hysterical liberals and conservatives to oppose an idea when they have run out of logical reasons. But the idea of removing all flags, statues or other reminders of our past worries me.

Because it’s censorship.

And that’s a path we do not want to go down as a country.

One of my favorite movies is “The American President” and there’s a great line in it about censorship and free speech.

“America isn’t easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, ’cause it’s gonna put up a fight. It’s gonna say “You want free speech? Let’s see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who’s standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours.”

It may be dialogue from a movie, but it’s still true.

What I’m saying is if we truly believe in freedom, then we can’t censor our past. Instead we need to learn about it and then learn from it.

The debate over race relations, flags and states rights won’t be solved easily or quickly. We need serious people willing to engage in frank discussions with the goal of finding solutions. Not race-baiters, white trash thugs and professional agitators looking to line their pockets and perpetuate their existence.

Accidental Racist

Brad Paisley and LL Cool J are an unlikely pair to collaborate on a song. But somehow it worked and they have given us song to frame this discussion and force all of us to confront our past and what we want our future to look like.