August 5, 2020 543 PM
While traveling in your area recently, I noticed in your July 9 edition a letter from Morris Pearl of Patriotic Millionaires concerning alleged Kentucky voter suppression tactics. I formerly lived and practiced law in eastern and southern Kentucky for over forty years before retiring to the Ft. Worth area. Mr. Pearl’s assertions in his letter are disingenuous and do not represent the true voting issues in the state.
Kentucky elections have historically been marked by massive election fraud consisting of extensive vote buying, dead people voting, rigged voting machines and other schemes. Most of the current voting requirements arose in the 1960s when reformers within the Democratic Party sought to clean up elections by purging voter rolls of dead or nonexistent people, establishing voter hotlines to report fraud and stiffening election laws. These laws were passed when the winner of the Democratic Primary was generally the overall winner, as Republicans at the time did not often run statewide campaigns.
Unfortunately, election fraud still continues on a significant basis as after each election cycle, local and central government officials and campaign workers are convicted of election law violations. Voting by mail is not favored in Kentucky due to numerous scandals in the past when fraudsters would illegally request absentee ballots for large groups of voters without their knowledge and have them mailed to a central post office box. The fraudsters would then mark and submit the ballots in favor of their candidates.
Unlike most southern states, Kentucky has a small minority population of around 7%. Most of the minority population is situated in Jefferson and Fayette Counties. The rest of the state has little to no minority population. In my former home, Kentucky County, the minority population was 3% or less, which was considered high for the area. An adjoining county had no minority residents.
The recent COVID-19 pandemic did necessitate a reduction on in-person voting locations, but the state did relax mail voting requirements. The state Election Commission, which is composed of members of both parties, has tried to keep elections fair and honest. Mr. Morris’ complaints that the Republicans are suppressing minority voting does not hold water as both parties are responsible for the current voting laws. The kind of loose voting laws advocated by Mr. Morris would certainly return Kentucky to the bad old days of rigged elections and less voter trust in election outcomes.
A great article on the front page of the Jeff Davis County Dispatch with the headline, “Debates continue for removal of statues and school names, mascots with ties to racial injustice throughout Texas and the United States,” states that “schools across Texas have been a part of the movement to prohibit the use of any race or ethnic group as a mascot.”
And now, the United States Commission on Civil Rights passed a resolution that reads in part that Native mascots “inhibit accurate understanding of the experiences of Native Americans and encourage biases against them contrary to their rich and diverse history.”
People, we took their lands, their languages, their very culture. My friend, Larry Yazzie, two times World Champion Fancy Dancer of the Muskogee tribe, who came to Fort Davis’ Fourth of July celebration a few years ago, put on a great education program for all on the courthouse stage. He danced for us, coming down from the stage and thrilling us as he moved through the crowd, enfolding some in his Eagle Dance Wings! Back on stage, he told us many wonderful facts of Native history and repeated that Native Americans are NOT mascots.
When I first saw our Fort Davis mascot, I was shocked at the grotesque mask and costume. I am told that the mascot dances around the end zone in some way when the team scores. White people here have told me that this “honors” Native Americans, but these people have not talked to any.
We need to get on the wagon of current events and eliminate that which promotes disrespect, inaccurate history, bias and prejudice. Let us be proud of our town and its football team by changing its name and eliminating the dreadful mascot.
My suggestion, for example, is the Fort Davis Diamondbacks. You will have your own, I am sure.
There is a simple and historically correct solution to renaming Jeff Davis County: change the name to Jeff Davis County, the other Jefferson Davis. Jefferson C. Davis, as opposed to Jefferson F. Davis, was a Union War hero, yet basically unknown. Born in Indiana, he always signed his name as “Jef.” He distinguished himself during the war with Mexico and was rewarded with a rare appointment from the ranks as an officer at a time when the Army officer’s corps was staffed almost completely with West Point graduates.
When the War of the Rebellion began, Davis found himself stationed at Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina, serving under Major Robert Anderson. He was the Officer of the Day when the Texan Louis Wigfall rowed out to ask for the surrender of the fort. Meeting at the gate, Wigfall stated, “Your flag is down, you are on fire and you are not firing your guns. General Beauregard desires to stop this.” (The flag was down because the pole had been shot through.) Davis replied, “No, sir, our flag is not down. It is for you to stop this,” and he sent Wigfall packing, demonstrating an aggressive attitude that he maintained throughout the conflict.
Davis fought throughout the war, capturing the town of Rome, Georgia, during Sherman’s Atlanta Campaign. During the March to the Sea that divided the Confederacy, he commanded Sherman’s XIV Corps, the “Jeff’s,” as they came to call themselves. After the war, he became the military governor of Alaska. With no civilian government in place and with only 250 troops, it fell to Davis to establish U.S. authority over the region, which he did.
When General Edward Canby and several of his men were murdered during peace negotiations with the Modoc Indians in northern California, Davis was selected to resolve what became known as the Modoc War, which he did once again.
Davis would die on November 30, 1879, and General William Tecumseh Sherman, his old commander, would write of Davis, “He threw his soul into the contest, and wherever the fighting was hardest we found him at the front.”
There is already a precedent for the name. When the War of the Rebellion was over, the Union soldiers created a veteran’s organization, the Grand Army of the Republic (the GAR). The men at Fort Davis soon organized a unit here, naming it the Jefferson Davis Chapter, after the patriot Jeff Davis.
And as we speak of name changes, I think that Presidio County should take a hard look at its name. The word “presidio” translates as “fort” or “fortification,” harkening back to the days when the Spanish stationed a garrison at La Junta to intimidate and control the Native Americans who were living peacefully at one of the longest inhabited locations in the region. Do we really want a county named after one culture that oppressed another?
In this context several names come to mind, La Junta County being the most obvious. Another, more modern name, would be Donald Judd County, or thinking about that beloved Supreme Court Justice that died there, Antonin Scalia County has a nice ring to it.
And we ought not mention CSA Colonel Henry P. Brewster who took up arms against the constitution – glass houses and all that.
Jeff Davis County
The so-called “Commission for the Renaming of Jeff Davis County,” a recent column in the Marfa paper by people pretending to know what they are talking about came to my attention. Before responding to their ridiculous and juvenile commentary, I will introduce a short history of Jefferson Davis they either chose to ignore or are ignorant of.
Jeff Davis was named after Thomas Jefferson, was an officer trained at West Point, a congressman, a senator and the U.S. secretary of war. He served as a U.S. colonel during the Mexican American War, was wounded and named a national hero for it. He served as the president of The C.S.A. after being forced to choose between his family and country, or as he wrote, “God forbid that the day should ever come when to be true to my constituents is to be hostile to the Union.”
I submit that the hardest decisions the people in this presumably self-appointed commission have ever had to make was what creamer to use in their latte. To paraphrase Adrian Vermeule, “Progressives celebrate tolerance, diversity, and free inquiry, but in reality practice social, cultural, and ideological conformity.” They constantly look for trouble everywhere, pretend to find it, then demand their presumptuous and erroneous remedies.
James R. Le Blanc