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D.G. Martin

Remembering The Past, But Not Chained To It

They just could not bring themselves to shake hands with their former enemies. A few weeks ago on the anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, we remembered earlier reunions when some American servicemen met the Japanese pilots who had attacked them so many years earlier. Some Americans shook hands with their former enemies and exchanged memories. Others just could not do it. We understood and respected their inability to make peace with the enemies who had done them such harm. But understanding their feelings did not keep the rest of us from continuing to develop connections with...

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Holding On To Our Humanity

“What is our tolerance for brutality?” A minister asked this question from the pulpit Sunday morning and suggested that his listeners consider recent news stories relating to “enhanced interrogation” procedures by the Central Intelligence Agency. If we think these enhanced tactics or torture could be justified on the grounds that they were effective in providing useful intelligence, do we show a high tolerance for brutality? Will we accept brutality if it achieves effectively some desired results? Our past records on this score indicate we are open to this rationale. For instance, some people in our region in years past...

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In Love With A Sociopathic Dog

“Hey, come here, will you? Quick. The dead stuff is over here. Let me show you.” These are the thoughts of Solo, a German shepherd that loves his job. His job is finding the lost remains of dead humans. These dog thoughts have been translated by N.C. State writing professor Cat Warren in What the Dog Knows: The Science and Wonder of Working Dogs. But simply calling Solo “her dog” is misleading. Warren’s relationship is more than owner-pet. Solo is her child, playmate, best friend, business partner, and boyfriend. She is totally into this animal. Solo is a cadaver...

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Renewing Our Affection For Our Hometown Newspaper

One of the state’s big newspapers almost lost a subscriber last week when she received a notice increasing the annual subscription rate by almost $100. It was not so much the amount of the increase that put her in a cancellation mode; rather, it was some fine print at the bottom of the notice. “Subscribers will be charged an additional $2 on Thanksgiving Day and an additional $1 charge” for each of seven other special days “for additional premium content in these editions. These charges are not included in our subscription prices and will change your expiration date.” The...

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Lefty and Roy — And Their Critics

While Martin Harmon was in North Carolina last week to promote his new book, Charles “Lefty” Driesell: A Basketball Legend, he dropped a signed copy by UNC basketball coach Roy Williams’ office. Harmon meant his gift only as an expression of his and Coach Driesell’s admiration for Williams and his accomplishments. Although Harmon did not have it in mind, his book, in the most poignant chapter, shows how Driesell faced the toughest time in his coaching career. The story of Driesell’s troubles might give some comfort to Williams, who recently faced his own off-court challenges. Driesell played basketball at...

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Jim Leutze Wants His State Back

“I am mad as hell and I want my state back.” Former UNC-Wilmington Chancellor Jim Leutze wanted to use this phrase as the title for his new book about modern North Carolina history and politics. Eventually, he settled on another provocative title, Entering North Carolina: Set Clocks Back 100 Years, which the Charlotte Observer book columnist Dannye Romine Powell has named “best book title of the year.” Leutze ‘s first title idea reflects the views of many North Carolinians who would like to reverse the recent changes in direction brought about by the Republican-controlled government in Raleigh. On the...

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The Battle For Political Dominance

What is the connection between U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan and acclaimed U.S. tennis player John Isner? Both come from Greensboro, but it is more than that. Isner is known for his three-day 2010 Wimbledon match against French tennis player Nicholas Mahut. Isner won in the fifth and deciding set, with no tiebreaker, 70-68. As painful as Hagan’s recent loss must be to her and her supporters, it is just the latest game in a long struggle between conservative and liberal or progressive political forces in North Carolina, in which each side has won and lost many times. Until the...

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Crowther on Mencken—Don’t Miss This Treat

Hillsborough writer Hal Crowther is widely admired for his provocative columns and ability to shock us by his creative use of words, phrases, comparisons, and images as powerful weapons that can persuade or provoke us. For this rare talent and his willingness to attack the sacred cows of our generation, Crowther draws comparisons to H.L. Mencken, whose newspaper columns rocked America in the 1920s, 30s, and 40s. Crowther’s long-time interest in Mencken began as a teenager, when his grandfather gave him one of Mencken’s books. For his own writing, Crowther won the Baltimore Sun’s H.L. Mencken Writing Award. Now...

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Remembering The Wise Words Of A Public Intellectual

Who are North Carolina’s public intellectuals? Over the years, we have been blessed with influential and thoughtful people whose wise commentaries about the state’s concerns often moved public opinion. Think about the late William Friday, who reminded us at every turn of the consequences of failing to address the basic needs of the state’s poorer citizens. Time after time, he warned about the increasing influence of television money on college athletics and the special treatment accorded to some athletes enrolled in universities. Last week, you could hear his voice from the grave. Sometimes editorial writers at the state’s major...

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A 60s Radical Returns, With Conservative Allies

Howard Fuller was back in North Carolina last week promoting his new book,  No Struggle, No Progress: A Warrior’s Life from Black Power to Education Reform. Fuller is a professor of education and director of the Institute for the Transformation of Learning at Marquette University. Some North Carolinians remember Fuller as a community organizer in the 1960s and 70s. He led poor people to demand fair treatment, to work together to improve their lives, and to stand up to the establishment at every turn. He led marches and founded Malcolm X Liberation University in Durham and Greensboro. His efforts...

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