A change in perspective is warranted

Published 9:14 pm Friday, March 6, 2015

Your Turn

By Dr. William A. Scott

As a new resident of ‘Western Tidewater’ I thoroughly enjoyed reading “Progress 2015, The 20 Most Significant Events In Western Tidewater History,” dated Feb. 22, 2015. Each article was extremely enlightening to me and gave me a good feeling that my decision to move here was indeed a good (choice). I’ve been here now for about two and a half year and each day I learn something new or am exposed to culture trends unbeknownst — some challenging, most gratifyingly pleasant.

What I’ve noticed most about some of the events mentioned in the ‘progress report’ was the ideological perspective — namely these eight: 20, 18, 17, 16, 15, 10, 7, and 2. Each article depicted a particular ideological point-of-view which I don’t doubt to be thoroughly factually accurate, but nonetheless exhibits a bias in favor of that point-of-view. The Civil War (20) article speaks to “a destitute village, cleared of its assets of slaves and money” suggesting that the Civil War was more about economics than human morality. The Nottoway Indians article also illustrates a bias toward “encroachment of tribal lands” that has dwindled the once tribal lands that encompassed Dinwiddie, Isle of Wight, Southampton, Surry and Sussex counties down to a small six-mile box and a smaller three-mile circle both in Southampton county. Article 17 (State Prison) tells us that operating a prison was extremely profitable to the state, especially if they could be privatized as some have done within the Department of Correction nation-wide. The ‘first black mayor of Franklin’ did shed a glimmer of light on the majority viewpoint, as it acknowledged the falsehood of the post-racial society. The Big Red Machine illustrates the same majority biases that were “in play” 30 years ago where schools were forced to integrate. Nowadays, non-integration (a noticeable reversal) has happened in nearly all county schools. Article 10 gets us back to the Meherrin and Nottoway Indians being forced into reservations as the plantation society with its slavery systems grew.

These significant events, as told, show a distinct ideological bias perspective of the teller of the event. My assessment was solidified when I read article seven, called Desegregation. The article may have been factually true but the history of that era doesn’t support it. What really caught my attention was the picture of the Hayden High School students standing on the steps. The caption of the picture says, “This photo was taken on the last day of school at Hayden High in June 1962.” When I first read it, I questioned the date since my wife attended Hayden and graduated in 1965. It was the last day of school at Hayden for that year instead of being the very last day of school at that school. That to me was a clear case of perhaps unintended deception.

That gets me to number two — Nat Turner. Words mean something. They frame a body of thought that agrees, disagrees or remain noncommittal (fence rider). Likewise, to parse rebellion conjugates a host of meanings; revolt, uprising, insurgence, upheaval, mutiny, revolution and insurrection. Each has its principle nuance but all relate to a preconceived “wrong that the rebellion was trying to right.” These preconceived notions are founded on a defiance of authority, non-accepted oral codes, or rejection of social conventions (social convention is a set of agreed, stipulated, or generally accepted standards, norms, social norms, or criteria, often taking the form of a custom). Such was the slave system that Nat Turner tried to eradicate. With this ‘point-of-view’ as the backdrop, the actions of the slave uprising justified Turner’s and his band of ‘freedom seekers’ efforts.

The repercussion of this rebellion and its effect on the black community haunts us still. The article paints a gloomy picture of what followed the capture of rebelling slaves and their leader, Rev. Nat Turner, the prophet — an act of physical as well as psychological terrorism. Today we reject the beheading of people captured by ISIS in the Middle East, yet that is actually what happened to Nat Turner and much more. After hanging him, i.e., after he was dead, his body was flayed (meaning whipped and skinned), beheaded, quartered (also meaning chopped and sliced into pieces) and scattered throughout the county. To put down any future thought of revolt, Virginia enacted a set of agreed and stipulated criteria that was tantamount to terrorism of the slave population in the state. Other states, both north and south, followed the precedent. Seems we, as a nation, are still ratifying those physical and psychological intimidations. Most assuredly, a change in our ideological perspective is needed!

Dr. William A. Scott is retired from the National Security Agency of the Department of Defense. Since his retirement, he has served as an adjunct professor for Washington Bible College/Capital Bible Seminary and Executive Director and Academic Dean for Triangle Bible Institute of Triangle, Virginia. He is currently serving as the Youth Ministry Director of Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church, Boykins, Virginia.