by Paula Laureen Henderson.
Book review by Lewis Loflin.
Peace is not the absence of turmoil, but rather the deep calm while hurricanes rage on the surface. The author presents herself as an eccentric, hilarious researcher, getting to the bottom of mankind's plight "to love, or to hate" and the beautiful or painful worlds that can result. One Internet blog, revealing the consequences of a rape and murder, began her quest to discover if justice can be stronger than tradition. Dare to drive with Henderson through the wastelands of industrial Chicago, down to the Delta of Mississippi to dispel any paranoia of corrupt politics, while questioning the new power of the cyber mob.
Southern Silence is the story of a Canadian women and her travels and impressions of the American South. She finds the real life and the culture to be very different from the television and press reports she gets on the Canadian prairie. Paula actually traveled to the South to do interviews and try to get the facts as best she could understand them. That is where I met her.
She contacted me initially on the Scott Sisters case in Mississippi where two young black women got obscene life sentences for a robbery involving $11. (They were recently released for humanitarian reasons.) Her book covers a number of Southern crime cases which my website also does. We met at the Bristol Mall for about three hours over lunch. I'm in Chapter 4 Blog.com. She has taken close note of bloggers which she calls the cyber mob. Chapter five Crackhouse concerned the Christian/Newsom murders in Knoxville which I covered great detail.
Her introduction to the internet also brought into focus the idea that the Silence on so many issues here in the South is being broken. What people refuse to discuss in public they can say anonymously on the internet. But we also need to note many things even the liberal press won't discuss ends up on the internet.
She also brings up a good point that is all too often the case in the South: many simply leave instead of confronting real problems. They leave Bristol and Southwest Virginia because that's easier than taking on rampant corruption and social structure that dominates this region. The Scott Sisters case when I looked into it revealed the black community is just as corrupt as the white community. She doesn't make excuses for the rampant black crime wave. She believes deeply in civil rights, but doesn't cut black felons any slack or wallow in political correctness.
The book is mostly her impressions as a Canadian and her travels and meetings with people in the South. From her days at Liberty University in Virginia to her meeting with Megan Williams in West Virginia, she was forced to face reality that wasn't in books or news reports. Megan was the alleged victim of a white hate crime that wasn't, and when the press found out it wasn't a hate crime they could use for a political agenda, she was discarded like a rag doll. (Chapter 3)
Much of the time she seemed shocked, amazed, and bewildered. What she didn't realize is there is no one South, but many. The South is very complex and hopefully ending the silence on so many issues will change that.
The main weakness of the book is Paula assumes everyone is familiar with various civil rights cases as she is, mostly ones she saw in the movies. In chapter one she laments the death of John Kennedy and mentions the death of a 14-year-old Mississippi boy that sparked the civil rights movement. The only problem is neither I or most people have ever heard of Emmett Till. That was in 1955 before I was born. Kennedy died when I was a small child. Most of us today were very small children or not even born when many of the cases occurred.
Frankly many of us are sick of being called racists for things we never did. Most whites in the South were never in the KKK and I know none of my relatives were. Her roommate from West Virginia whom she describes in the book had very good reasons for her feelings about blacks. The 50s-60s were a half century ago. All most of us today know of blacks is their mass welfare dependency and high rates of violent crime that Paula to her credit documents.
I would buy the book and advise the reader to take their time reading it. Paula writes with a great deal of feelings and wit and gives a fascinating view of how others see us in overly liberal Canada.
Buy the book from Amazon.com here.
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