Letter to the Editor

Letters to the editor

Wednesday, June 1, 2005

Seeking unity, not denying heritage

Dear editor:

I certainly hope my first article about "bushwhacker" didn't come across as strident or "offensive" to most people as it did to Mr. Frank Carlton. My goal is peace and growing unity to an area that has been nursed through it's infancy on the tainted milk of disunity. I do not write to offend, debate or "impose" my ideals on anyone but rather to inquire, enlighten and reason with any rational thinking Nevadan who's compassionate enough to see past one side of an issue and discuss social improvement.

As for celebrating my culture, I humbly salute the flag that represents the entire country. I respect our culture enough to realize that blacks and whites fought for our independence.

As Americans we are a multi-hued society but the blood which has been shed unjustly, or in defense of our freedom, is the same color.

Even before Mr. Carlton's advice to "get a grasp on Nevada's true history" or "conduct a little research" about why or what Missourians or Southerners were fighting for, I understood some of the negative implications of "bushwhacker."

A Missouri history professor had recently said to me that taking issue with "Bushwhacker Days" might mean taking on the "mythology of the Lost Cause and southern sympathy -- maybe including a denial of slavery as central to the (Civil) war."

Obviously that has taken place. If slavery was not such a big part of the tensions of that day then why the Missouri Compromise, the Fugitive Slave Act and the 3/5 Clause? Why did the end of the war bring an end to slavery?

The tone of my letter was not one of ridicule or sarcasm. Neither is this one. Anyone writing with that attitude does so to their own detriment.

My point and opinion was and is that "bushwhacker" is a negative term and the town would be best represented not by denying it's history, or dishonoring it's veterans and ancestors, but by adopting a new name for the June celebration. Other words I've found describing or attached to "bushwhacker" are; vile, murderers, rebellious, lawless and thieves. While I certainly would never claim these words to describe every southern defender I did find them in the descriptions of those who were considered Confederate guerillas (bushwhackers).

I realize there are perhaps a few people who come to Bushwhacker Days to "celebrate their heritage" but most probably do not have that foremost on their minds. Mr. Carlton said, "Each culture should be free to celebrate their heritage as they see fit, so what if it may offend someone of another culture?" Surely his intent is not to purposely offend anyone, surely he is more of a southern gentleman than that, and surely we are all aware by now that our culture is tied to African American culture because we are all Americans.

Most people of African descent today were born in America. To a degree they will have their own unique culture but to a greater degree we share the same one.

If we could look into the soul of America we could see that it reaches far beyond amber waves of grain and stretches itself across the seas in every direction.

After all, with the exception of the Native Americans we have all come from somewhere else.

As I stated in my first letter regarding Bushwhacker Days, I do not want to be hyper-sensitive to race or gender.

I don't write for reasons of "guilt" or "fear" but change and improvement for all our citizens -- that should be our common goal.

-- Shannon Harwell