Examining Dr. Sims
I very much enjoyed seeing Wendy Brinker's article on the Sims monument in the [Summer 2000] POINT. I wholly agree that the monument's placement and relevance needs urgent reconsideration. It is difficult to imagine any political constituency, other than male gynecologists with a penchant for radical surgery, feeling deprived by the monument's removal or relocation.
I have a couple of points to make with regard to Ms. Brinker's summary of Sims' history and the subsequent historical narratives written about him. Brinker neatly summarizes the work of G. Barker-Benfield, Mary Daly and Deborah Kuhn McGregor in her account of Sims' experiments on slave infants and slave women (for the surgical relief of trismus nascentium, or neonatal tetanus, and vesico-vaginal fistula). However, she wrongly characterizes the character and source of the historiographical debates. Rather than this being yet another case of South Carolina against the world, "inside" and "outside" accounts of Sims' history, it has been more the case that one sees dramatic differences between physician-authored histories and those written by social and cultural historians (in particular since the advent of feminist influenced scholarship from the 1970s to the present).
Prior to 1970, or thereabouts, few accounts of Sims' life and career would have done other than celebrate his inventions, achievement, courage and character. Since the writing of medical history is now conducted by those outside of the medical profession, more questions are asked and the old style "Great Men" image is receding.
Given that Sims monuments sprung-up in New York, Paris and Alabama, it is wrong to blame South Carolina alone for creating the Sims myth. Sims' sole biographer, Seale Harris, came from Alabama. Sims was awarded medals of honor from a number of European governments in the 1860s and 1870s. The problem of how we remember medical history, and who gets included in that history, is not South Carolina's alone. Indeed, the way in which medicine is represented in the daily media should be of equal and universal concern. For do not the current innovations in surgery, clinical drug trials and genetics rely upon the same public acceptance and approval of animal and human experiments? The Sims monument, like the history of the man and his medicine itself, begs bigger questions and goes beyond partisan politics.
Stephen C. Kenny, Columbia
The Write Stuff
I just wanted to say it was good to finally read something out of my home state besides the usual conservative drivel that The State newspaper calls news. Keep up the great work. Really like your paper.
Mike Hedgepath, Atlanta, GA
I just moved out of South Carolina, still consider myself a South Carolinian, and am consistently proud of The Point and what the SC Progressive Network is about. Keep up the good work. You are the salt of the earth!
Will Schilling, firstname.lastname@example.org
I like the efforts your staff has made to make this newspaper a reality for the last five years. I was wondering what the conditions are for contributing to your newspaper free-lance writing? A better question is: do you need any extra writers to work as part of your staff?
Michelle Smith, Cayce
Editor's note: POINT (which has been publishing for nine years, not five) is always looking for new talent. For a copy of our writer's guidelines, call 803-808-3384 or send email to email@example.com.
Boycotts R Us
Maurice Bessinger is no less a racist today than he was in the 1950s and '60s when he refused to serve black people in his restaurants. One afternoon back then, my younger sister and I had been shopping downtown in Columbia and were waiting to catch a bus home. The Ku Klux Klan, in full regalia, came marching up Main Street. It was so frightening and intimidating that we quickly went around the corner and took a taxicab.
Klan support of Bessinger's white supremacy had a powerful impact on me and greatly increased my awareness of racism. I didn't see any people of color that day, but my own reaction to such a show of white-hooded menace was so strong that I can only begin to imagine what it must have been like for the black community.
My husband and I do not buy Piggy Park barbecue, and we share our concerns with numerous friends and out-of-town guests. We worked to remove the Confederate flag from our State Capitol. Since Bessinger is now flying this flag at his restaurants, and selling literature to justify slavery, we are taking our concern to another level. We are calling on managers and customer relations people of grocery stores where we shop, and asking that they remove Bessinger's products from their shelves.
Join us and ask your grocer to stop selling racism in a bottle.
Rebecca Burgess Rogers, Columbia
I tend to disagree with the store chain Piggly Wiggly and their decision to keep the product of a known racist on their shelves. A man who would display such biggoted phrases in a public resturant should be boycotted. He has crossed the line, and the good folks of Columbia as well as other parts of South Carolina should make him aware of the ramification of what he calls "his freedom of speech" will have on our state.
Rodney Russell, Fairfax, S.C.-native now living in New York
Sons offended by Stepdaughters
While in town for the Sons of Confederate Veterans Reunion I happened to pick up your publication at a store on King Street. Your "Step-Daughters of the Confederacy" ad might have been funny if the rest of your material did not make it so plain that the humor was mean spirited and intended to reinforce an unfair and unflattering stereotype. I am descended from a long and proud line of white trash and can laugh about it when I think we are all laughing together. If your intention in the Summer 2000 issue was to insult or offend, you did not fail.
I hope that you might look at the hostility that bleeds through your work. No group of people really deserve to be depicted in such a hateful and negative light. It does not lead to understanding, respect, or love.
Other than that, we enjoyed your wonderful city. Deo Vindice.
I went to the recent lowering/rasing of the confederate flag and i noticed two things that bothered me. first, when a flag waver tried to take his banner to the south side of the statehouse where all the anti flaggers were he would be turned around by the police and orderd to the front side. however the anti flagger were allowed to wave their yellow shame banners and rudly blow their liitle whistles one foot away from my eardrums. thats a double standard isnt it? secondly ,the step daugters of the confederacy were very offensive to me especiall when this cross dressin bitch said that we flag supporters were"fighting for our rights to be rednecked and white trash" I AM NOT TRASH CBECAUSE I THINK THE FLAG DESEVES A PLACE OF HONOR! NOT THT DOME BUT JUST WHER IT IS IS FINE WITH ME!
Thomas Nunn, Cayce
If a tree falls in the national forest...
Most Americans believe our National Forests, like our National Parks, are protected. Unfortunately, this couldn't be fUrther fiom the truth. Each year, thousands of acres of Mational Forests are cut down by commercial timber companies,.with taxpayers footing the bill. And what a bill it is. $1 billion oftaxpayer money is spent annually to subsidize this logging program. $1 billion spent to destroy the forests the Forest Service was created to protect, while, in the process, draining nutrients from the soil, washing topsoil into streams,. destroying wildlife habitat, and intensifying the severity of forest fires. In addition, 440,000 miles of roads now scar our National Forests, most built for the logging industry and paid for by the taxpayer.
In the state of South Carolina, the numbers are staggering. In 1998 alone, almost 10,000 acres of Sumter and Francis Marion National Forests were cut down. At. that rate, in five short years, one-tenth of the National Forests in our state will have been logged. Surely, this poses an obvious question. With the millions of acres of privately-owned forests in our predominately rural state, why must we the taxpayer pay such a high price to have our public lands destroyed by the timber companies when there is simply no need?
Gradually, though, the movement to end commercial logging in our National Forests in gaining momentum. A poll conducted by the Forest Service found that a majority of Americans value these forests, and the 3,000 species of fish and wildlife, and 10,000 plant species- including 230 endangered plant and animal species- they contain more than the timber and other commodity products that can be extracted from them.
In April, the National Forest Protection and Restoration Act was introduced in Congress. If passed, this act would eliminate the commercial logging program on federal lands, promote restoration, and help communities that receive logging revenue develop a more stable and diverse economy.
If you care about your forests, and your tax dollars, contact your representative and ask them to support this act. For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org or contact your local Sierra Club chapter.
Chris Massey, Lexington
Although some conservatives would be happy to return to the past and make our nation a monarchy, that idea has never set well with me. But if Texas governor George W. Bush is elected president we will be conducting ourselves just like a monarchy where sons inherit the throne from their fathers.
Unless his father had been president, I don't believe the lone star state Bush would ever have the popularity to be elected anything. It is questionable if he would have been able to make it to the Texas governor's office without running on his dad's coat tails.
Little George certainly isn't the visionary that his father was. In fact I don't know that little George has ever had an original idea. His slamming of Vice President Al Gore with respect to not being a visionary, certainly isn't original, nor does it hold up to close scrutiny.
Why little George has such tiny ideas that if elected we'll all have to get out our magnifying glasses to find them. Our only salvation will be if T.G. (Tiny George) surround's himself with more of his father's cabinet members. However that will only Cheney-chain-chain him ever more to the past.
We need a president like Al Gore who isn't afraid to remake himself anew every day! We can only survive as a super power if we are able to adapt, to change, to improvise. That may seem like a distressing concept to those set in their ways who wish we were still living under the yoke of King George III. But it is that ever refreshing pioneering spirit Al Gore radiates which made our nation great!
Perhaps nothing more validates this fact than Gore's selection of Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman as a running mate. Never before has a Orthodox Jewish man received this honor and there is perhaps no more moral of a candidate on either party's ticket. Clearly with Al Gore as president we will certainly move forward toward a new tomorrow and ever greater America.
Terry Lynch, Montgomery, Al
Shortly after the Democratic convention I heard several women call in to a talk show and explain that they were going to vote for Gore because of the way he kissed his wife at the convention. For a moment I was ashamed to be a woman. How incredibly naïve.
I can't seem to understand why a woman would favor Gore. Gore has had nearly eight years to accomplish at least some of the "promises" he made at the convention. Why didn't any of these "promises" happen during the past eight years if they were so important to Gore? Why are our schools in the worst shape in history after Gore's reign as vice president, the second most powerful position in the nation? Why are so many seniors worried about Social Security after Gore has had a chance to influence this problem? Perhaps some insight can be gotten from the many personality makeovers Gore has had in the past nine months. Or maybe the illegal fund-raiser Gore denied participating in even though he was caught on camera. Al Gore had to hire a woman to dress him. How does he expect to make important decisions as President if he can't even dress himself? Gore appears weak, indecisive, and seems to shift whichever way the wind blows.
As a Hispanic woman and Marine Corps veteran Gore's constant stirring of the racial "pot" upsets me. His campaign focuses on racial differences. This attitude taken to the Oval Office can only lead to more envy and hatred between good people of different color and cause more division in our once great nation. His promise to force gun licensing proves his animosity for the Bill of Rights. Vice President Gore took an oath to protect the Bill of Rights when he took office. Now the Clinton/Gore Administration's lawyer is on record as stating that no one has the right to own a gun in the United States. As a woman I may need a firearm to protect myself someday. Besides, who is he to strip me of my civil right to own a weapon if I choose?
I find two of Gore's campaign issues particularly disturbing. Gore favors partial-birth abortions on demand. This gruesome dismembering of a full-term living baby goes against every mother's instinct to protect her child. As an ex-Marine the promise of more gays in the military is also disconcerting. Moral is at an all time low. Our national defense is the weakest it has been in many years. Gore promises to make our military weaker yet with his social experiments. The media has attempted to show Gore as a fighting soldier. The fact is he had a bodyguard with him most of the time and saw no action.
If Gore wins our country is in very serious trouble. Expect to lose your right of self protection, the military will be further weakened, our moral fiber will be degraded, the racial divide will widen, your paycheck will get smaller and the government will be better equipped to control our lives. Well, at least he's a good kisser.
Patricia Tapia-Cook, Lodi, CA
Go to Hell
Your magazine seems to be reaching its tentacles into the upstate. I always welcome the opportunity to read POINT because it's a good way to know and refute "liberalism" more fluently. Your commentaries on nuclear energy, pollution etc. may for all I know be right on the mark. But elsewhere in this issue you have again enshrined the "liberal" social, political, moral and cultural agenda and that in my view calls for a response.
Mr. Bursey ["Is South Carolina ready for a progressive third party?"] sees everything in terms of race, a major division of accredited victim group theology. Such stuff was strategically developed by "liberal" ideologues many, many years ago, and they have succeeded in distracting the masses with it for generations. "Liberals" must get off their racial kick and remember there is more to right and wrong than this one fixation.
Mr. Bursey's article, while set in an appealing typeface and accompanied by a good cartoon, doesn't wash. Form will never justify or even adequately cover content, no matter how Clinton blow-dries his hair each morning or POINT lays out its copy. What Mr. Bursey seems to propose here is the "rainbow coalition" fantasy honed as a political weapon a party that will stick it to whitey with inane utopianist ammo like "living wage."
Wendy Brinker attempts a further "ethnic cleansing" of the monuments on the state house plaza. Specifically she takes on a statue of Dr. J. Marion Sims, the putative father of gynecology. This article could have real merit and interest if it were not so obviously spite- and "diversity"-driven. Ah, but he "evaded the issue of race," didn't he, and was such a monster as to consider white women "the loveliest of all God's creations"! Perhaps he and O.J. Simpson will someday be roommates in hell for this unspeakable thought-crime.
What Ms Brinker doesn't tell us is how Dr. Sims' methods compared with others' of the period. But far more important than that, she and your other finger-POINTers have yet to similarly give us the rest of the story on "liberal" heroes Lincoln, Eleanor, Martin Luther King, Maya Angelou, et al. flaming "racists" without exception, not to mention communists, adulterers, plagiarists, ex-strippers, et al.
Prof. William P. Kreml relives the good old days of the October Revolution by framing the war over Confederate heritage in terms of aristocracy versus democracy. Aristocracy is a given in virtually any society, from the Southern planters to the nomenclature of the latter-day USSR, but apparently Prof. Kreml is ready to have one more go at doing away with it in favor of "democracy." But what does he mean by the latter? Politicians elected by popular vote? Living life to a constant rock beat? Dictatorship of the proletariat?
Where but in public school classrooms and the "liberal" media is democracy praised at all nowadays? Mencken opined "Democracy is a form of religion. It is the worship of jackals by jackasses." I think socialism is what Prof. Kreml wants, but he just can't spit it out in those terms, probably because he knows it never works and the old South was altogether the freest and best civilization of modern times.
You people are seeing that it's no use to paint un-Reconstructed Southerners as beasts, even in the wake of the flag's downfall, as a pitiful simulacrum of it droops atop a piss-covered pole behind a wrought iron Mau Mau barrier just under Andy Thomas's nose. The liberal party line on the flag issue is revealed as a long-running hoax. You've blown it and now you're seeing it. It's not too late for you in the "liberal" press to find this out. Do it. Flush "liberalism" down! We on the right won't tell anybody where you got the idea.
Nelson Waller, Sec. of S.C. Council of Conservative Citizens, Anderson
Beware League of the South
The League of the South has disputed its status as a hate group as labeled by the Southern Poverty Law Center. If the League of the South is not a hate group, then what are they? Are they anarchists? Are they separatists? Are they secessionists? Are they militants? Are they anti-Americans? Are they a mix of neo-Confederate, religious fanatics? Are they a new breed of extremists, of political terrorists? Just what sort of beasts are these folk?
To be a member of the LOS you must agree with their purpose, which includes the goal to form a separate union of southern states. This makes the LOS a secessionist organization. Because membership in the LOS requires support of the formation of an independent nation of southern states, an act which previously resulted in a civil war, the LOS is anything but a peace loving Christian group.
Certainly the LOS can not claim to be patriotic Americans given their fundamental purpose is to divide and destroy the union and create a separate nation. In this respect the LOS is much like the Aryan Nation which seeks to establish a separate name sake, all white nation.
Of course the LOS does not call itself a hate group. Neither does the Ku Klux Klan. Neither did the Third Reich. Only those persecuted referred to these parties in a derogatory sense.
The fact is the League of the South by its very name is exclusive. If you are not a southern, white Christian you are excluded. That is another way of saying if you are black, if you are Jewish, if you are Oriental, if you are of mixed heritage, what the LOS members call "a mongrel," then beware of the LOS! They may not hate you, they just don't want you to exist in their society.
Adolph Hitler had a name for this. He called it "the final solution." We now call it the extermination of six million Jews, the Holocaust! That, in essence, is what the League of the South is, a holocaust waiting to happen, for surely any group set on destroying our union in this fashion would result in another Holocaust!
Jannell McGrew, Montgomery AL