The “Harvest” of 1958 and 2018

The following editorial is being reprinted today in a couple of newspapers and given its focus I wanted to make sure it was archived here at Civil War Memory. In it The Atlanta Constitution Editor Ralph McGill shared his thoughts in response to the bombing of The Temple synagogue on Peachtree Street on October 12, 1958. I am going to post this here without comment assuming that most of you will draw the obvious connections to the current climate. We’ve been here before or perhaps we never left. 

A church. A school

Dynamite in great quantity Sunday ripped a beautiful Temple of worship in Atlanta. It followed hard on the heels of a like destruction of a handsome high school at Clinton, Tenn.

The same rabid, mad-dog minds were, without question, behind both. They also are the source of previous bombings in Florida, Alabama and South Carolina. The school house and the church are the targets of diseased, hate-filled minds.

Let us face the facts.

This is a harvest. It is the crop of things sown.

It is the harvest of defiance of courts and the encouragement of citizens to defy law on the part of many Southern politicians. It will be the acme of irony, for example, if any one of four or five Southern governors deplore this bombing. It will be grimly humorous if certain state attorneys general issue statements of regret. And it will be quite a job for some editors, columnists and commentators, who have been saying that our courts have no jurisdiction and that the people should refuse to accept their authority now to deplore.

It is not possible to preach lawlessness and restrict it.

To be sure, none said go bomb a Jewish temple or a school.

Gates Opened

But let it be understood that when leadership in high places in any degree fails to support constituted authority, it opens the gates to all those who wish to take law into their hands.

There will be, to be sure, the customary act of the careful drawing aside of skirts on the part of those in high places.

“How awful, ” they will exclaim. “How terrible. Something must be done.”

But the record stands. The extremists of the citizens’ councils, the political leaders who in terms violent and inflammatory have repudiated their oaths and stood against due process of law have helped unloose this flood of hate and bombing.

This, too, is a harvest of those so-called Christian ministers who have chosen to preach hate instead of compassion. Let them now find pious words and raise their hands in deploring the bombing of a synagogue.

You do not preach and encourage hatred for the Negro and hope to restrict it to that field. It is an old, old story. It is one repeated over and over again in history. When the wolves of hate are loosed on one people, then no one is safe.

Hate and lawlessness by those who lead release the yellow rats and encourage the crazed and neurotic who print and distribute the hate pamphlets, who shrieked that Franklin Roosevelt was a Jew; who denounce the Supreme Court as being Communist and controlled by Jewish influences.

The Harvest

This series of bombings is the harvest, too, of something else.

One of those connected with the bombing telephoned a news service early Sunday morning to say the job would be done. It was to be committed, he said, by the Confederate Underground.

The Confederacy and the men who led it are revered by millions. Its leaders returned to the Union and urged that the future be committed to building a stronger America. This was particularly true of Gen. Robert E. Lee. Time after time he urged his students at Washington University to forget the War Between the States and to help build a greater and stronger union.

But for too many years now we have seen the Confederate flag and the emotions of that great war become the property of men not fit to tie the shoes of those who fought for it. Some of these have been merely childish and immature. Others have perverted and commercialized the flag by making the Stars and Bars, and the Confederacy itself, a symbol of hate and bombings.

For a long time now it has been needful for all Americans to stand up and be counted on the side of law and the due process of law — even when to do so goes against personal beliefs and emotions. It is late. But there is yet time.

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7 comments… add one
  • Sherree Nov 23, 2018 @ 4:49

    I never thought I would say this, but I am grateful that my husband did not live to see this again. Having experienced World War II and the defeat of the Nazis, he believed, to a large extent, that the type of hatred let loose and writ large of that time period had been wrestled to the ground. He so loved this nation, as did his mother and father, Jewish immigrants from Russia and Germany. It’s as though we are watching Rome burn as the boy king fiddles. This new rise in Antisemitism rests squarely on Trump’s–and on our–shoulders. Thanks for posting.

  • Hugh HIll Nov 12, 2018 @ 11:57

    Mankind’s darkest deeds are committed with hatred of mind and soul, we are told that if we fail to learn from history then we will be condemned to relive it and yet like a snake eating itself we never learn.
    There are two types of fool in the world, one who learns and the other who burns!

    This harrowing tale reminds me of a man I once interviewed on what equality meant to him.
    This man had lost most of his leg and had 6 ” nails tear through his body all because someone hated his identity.

  • Neil Hamilton Nov 3, 2018 @ 15:43

    “History teaches us to hope.”

    It’s time to take the lesson to heart.


  • Parrots Mimic what They Hear Oct 31, 2018 @ 6:03

    I found this due to a podcast of “The Daily” a Ny Times product. If you get a chance listen to it. It brings this hatred down to a targeted population and it gives examples of how it is done-it reinforces everything in the CWmemory article. I have heard it said the only way to combat this hatred is to start at the local level. My husband built a monument to community and neighborly love. It was published in newspapers as far away as Europe. The “live Missile in Tallahassee stands for love and acceptance. Don’t turn your attention away from this violence, stand strong and stand for love and acceptance-history will repeat itself until people’s patterns change. Thank you for printing this article.

  • Msb Oct 31, 2018 @ 0:47

    You’re right. Only the name “stochastic terrorism” is new.

  • Mike Hawthorne Oct 30, 2018 @ 15:18

    Chilling and prophetic, for many reasons.

  • Bill Underhill Oct 30, 2018 @ 6:23

    You’re right, Kevin. No comment needed. Thank you for posting the editorial.

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