Nat Turner: Maniacal Murderer or Virtuous Visionary?

Source | Wikimedia Commons

This 1831 woodcut purports to illustrate stages of the rebellion. Source | Wikimedia Commons

A version of this column ran in 2011.

October 2, 2014 — or thereabout — will be the 214th birthday of Nat Turner. I say “thereabout” because blacks, like him, who were born enslaved in this country, including Philadelphia, were considered inanimate objects and therefore were not bestowed the dignity of an official birth certificate. Despite that, most historians agree that he was born on that date in 1800.

It was in Southampton County, Virginia, that his rebellion took place on August 21, 1831, when he and others killed 55 persons to bring about an end to slavery. Did those killings mean that he was a maniacal murderer like Ted Bundy or a virtuous visionary like the colonial patriots such as the Sons of Liberty and the Boston, New York City, and Providence activists who beat, shot, and killed Brits?

Well, let’s talk first about who he was and what he did before we determine what he was.

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Faculty Member Suspended Over “Redskins” Ban

This isn’t heavy-handed at all: Neshaminy school officials have suspended a faculty member because the students who run the high school paper refused to permit the school’s mascot — the “Redskins” — be used in an op-ed.

The paper’s student editor was also removed from her job for a month.
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What Stu Bykofsky Almost Gets Right About White Privilege

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Let’s give Stu Bykofsky some credit: Sometimes he almost stumbles his way to the truth.

Backhanded compliment? Sure. But you take what you can get with Stu. And on Tuesday, what Stu gave us was this: A deconstruction of the idea of “white privilege” — part of Stu’s Ongoing Series of Columns That Try to Tear Down the Foundations of Political Correctness, That Most Venal of Sins — that instead pretty much affirmed the concept.

Stu would almost certainly deny that’s what happened. But judge for yourself.

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Have We Entered the Era of Crowdsourced Hate-Funding?

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Lynching rose to prominence in the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, most notably in the Deep South during the dawn of Reconstruction. Lynching was extra-judicial, vigilante action used to intimidate African Americans — and sometimes sympathetic whites — to enforce racist Jim Crow law. Individuals who participated in lynch mobs were seldom convicted in a court of law, even if properly identified, meaning perpetrators were safe, generally anonymous, and rarely held accountable for their actions.

Perhaps more disgustingly, lynching was a public spectacle, often treated as a family-friendly community event. It was not uncommon for children to be brought to the sight of lynchings, as a victim’s body hung lifelessly from a tree. So agreeable were whites to the racial violence of lynching, many took photos gathered around the victim, united as one for the cause of a dead black man.

While lynching has occurred less frequently since the Civil Rights Movement, its legacy remains present in the modern era; the noose remains symbolic, and makes regular appearances at many universities. The mob mentality persists as well, now in the form of the digital campaign, where individual donors unite as one.

In the wake of the deaths of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, and allegations of first-degree rape and sexual battery of eight black women, lucrative crowdsourcing fundraisers were established for George Zimmerman, officer Darren Wilson and officer Daniel Holtzclaw, respectively.

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Michael Nutter’s Beautiful, Empty Words About Ferguson

Nutter

OK, we’ve probably beat up on the Philadelphia Police Department enough for one summer. We’ve suffered through a new scandal, retreaded an old scandal, questioned the connection between this department and the tragic events of Ferguson, Mo., and seen the rise of a new movement to increase the department’s accountability to the public.

Most of this was necessary.

But before we we leave the summer — hopefully for a future filled with mutual respect between police and citizens, the highest ethical standards for each, and the end of “no snitch” culture — let’s consider one last thing: The words of Mayor Michael Nutter.

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Philly Newspaper Apologizes for Calling Asians “Chinky Winky” and “Dinky Doo”

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UPDATE 8/25 1:10pm: The editor responsible for the Asian slurs has been fired. For the full story, go here.

ORIGINAL:

The Philadelphia Public Record newspaper has apologized for using racial slurs in a photo caption depicting City Councilman Mark Squilla with a group of Asians in Chinatown, referring to some in the photo as “Chinky Winky,” “Dinky Doo,” and “Me Too.” Read more »

Philadelphia Newspaper Calls Asians “Chinky Winky” and “Dinky Doo”

public-record-asian-slurs-940x540

UPDATE 8/25 1:10 pm: The newspaper editor responsible for the Asian slurs has been fired. For the full story, go here.

ORIGINAL:

In the August 21st print edition of the Philadelphia Public Record, the free weekly tabloid published by former Philadelphia City Councilman turned federal inmate Jimmy Tayoun Sr., current Philadelphia City Councilman Mark Squilla is pictured at an event in Chinatown with, among others, “Chinky Winky,” “Me Too,” and “Dinky Doo.” Read more »

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