I try not to write about whatever all the ponderous political pundits are pontificating about at the time. I am just not a “me too” kind of guy. But, I am going to have to make an exception this week and mention the recent presidential debate. To call it a debacle is being too kind. To the crowd that would support Donald Trump even if he was caught riding an ostrich buck-naked in the Rose Garden and to the crowd that would not support him even if he got that fat little toad in North Korea to quit jive-talking, kiss the president’s ring and destroy all of his nuclear weapons, I am sure nothing in the debate changed their collective minds. For the rest of us, it was embarrassing and juvenile. I have seen more decorum at a hog killing.
On rare occasions, we seem to remember we are Americans first and partisans second. Now that the president and first lady have tested positive for COVID-19 and have quarantined themselves, I have been heartened to read some of the supportive messages they have received from people like his rival, Joe Biden, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and the Democratic candidate for Georgia’s U.S. Senate seat, Raphael Warnock. Scoff if you wish, but I find it a good thing.
I got some interesting comments from my recent column wondering if there is any place for love in the world today. I mentioned the suggestion of businessman and author Arnie Sidman that it would be good for Black and white churches to collaborate and have small groups get together and get to know each other as human beings and learn that we have more in common than we do different. Most of you agreed (although churches have remained sadly silent on the idea.) However, a few of you took umbrage that I capitalized “Black” and not “white,” in the column as though I was exhibiting a subtle bias. The fact is it was the Associated Press Stylebook which most news organizations, government and public relations agencies (and I) use as a guide, that made that change. If that bothers you, please get in touch with John Daniszewski, AP’s vice president of standards, in New York. It was his idea and I am sure he would love to hear from you.
Speaking of Black, remember the late Hugo Black, an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1937 to 1971 and one of its most liberal members, particularly during the tenure of Chief Justice Earl Warren? Turns out that in earlier times, Hugo Black had been a member of the Ku Klux Klan in his home state of Alabama. Can you imagine the guy getting approved in today’s environment? Especially by today’s liberals?
Finally, as a loyal and long-active University of Georgia alumnus who has given much of his time and a good portion of his money to his beloved alma mater, I read with interest 300 alumni of UGA’s Foundation Fellows and Ramsey Scholars have signed a letter demanding the names of a number of buildings on campus “that honor the violent legacies of slavery and segregation” be renamed by the conclusion of the Fall 2020 semester or they will withhold their “significant alumni contributions to the University.” A couple of observations: As a significant contributor myself, none of the names of the signees ring a bell with me. Of the 300 who signed the letter, only 18 percent live in Georgia. The rest are scattered throughout the country and around the world. As a past president of the national alumni association, I don’t recall having known of any of the signees being involved in our myriad of activities. I would remind them there have been times I have strongly disagreed with my university – the most notable being during the egomaniacal reign of former President Michael Adams — but I never once considered withholding my support which would have only served to punish our undergraduates. To the 300, if your loyalty to the University of Georgia is based solely on renaming the buildings on campus, I suggest you keep your money and make good on your threats. It was people like me and other loyal UGA alumni who helped provide the funds to create the prestigious Foundation Fellowships and Ramsey Scholars and there are plenty of us around that will make up the difference.
•Dick Yarbrough is a four-time winner of the Best Humor Column by the Georgia Press Association. Reach him at email@example.com or P.O. Box 725373, Atlanta, Georgia 31139.