Monday, April 5, 2010
WHICH HISTORY DO WE CELEBRATE?
"Surrender of Cornwallis"
I live in a unique place. It reminds me somewhat of Dicken's "A Tale of Two Cities." In fact, the small city in which I live is more than a little divided. You see there are two historical events and places connected to this area which represent the opposite sides of our current national struggle.
One is just west of town, a national military historical park commemorating the Battle of Kings Mountain, a major turning point in the Revolutionary War. The other one, the Loray mill, is on the west side, in town. There sits a dilapidated building that is the remnant of a large textile mill where, in 1929 a union strike fueled by Communists took place and two people were shot. The irony for me is that one place is the remembrance of how our freedom was defended, while the other place represents a tragedy of how communism influences labor unions.
Kings Mountain National Military Park commemorates the bravery of patriot mountain men, in 1772, who triumphed over Cornwallis' troops led by Patrick Ferguson, and made them turn back. The Battle of Kings Mountain was a decisive rout for the patriots and Cornwallis was stunned. King George was learning that the cause of freedom would not be turned back in America.
The other place is a sad story of how poor mill workers were used by Communists to foment a riot. The police were called in and a woman was shot to death. Somehow the police chief was shot to death, possibly by accident by his own forces. The National Textile Workers Union, a communist labor union, was led by a man named Fred Beal. He was released on bail after subsequent trials following the strike and he promptly fled to the Soviet Union. He became disillusioned in the Soviet Union and returned to the United States, surrendered to North Carolina authorities, but was later pardoned. The strike was not successful and the methods of the labor unions and communists were, henceforth, very unpopular in the South.
So now and again someone makes some big deal about the Loray Mill. It has been put on the National Register of Historic Places, all because of a communist plot to wreck the textile business and ruin the owners. The textile industry created a lot of wealth for this area of the country. In fact, our small city would not have thrived at all were it not for the textile industry. A thriving industry is a point of pride for those who own it and those who put their labor to work for it. The Loray mill is now a large brick building with broken glass windows and it sits like an empty ghost of the tragic events. The city leaders are always looking for some developer to come in and turn the place into some fabulous condos or commercial, mixed use development, but at the same time they want it to be a symbol of "the workers' unions" and their ability to demonize those bad mill owners. So far no deals have come through. There are people in town who think this relic is a monument to the struggles of humanity. It is often written about in the local paper as if this 1929 event was some great and glorious thing that we should all have tatooed on our hearts. The Loray Mill may become the largest tax credit project in the state. Our small city has no other major ties to history than this one dismal event, so it is looked at as something to commemorate.
No, I don't support the abuse of employees. And I do support employment safety laws that have been put in place to protect people to a reasonable degree. Laws have been put in place preventing labor abuses in the United States. But, here we are. From the Revolutionary War to the Marxist revolution, today we exist in the middle of divergent paths and will either emerge victorious on the side of our Constitution or be consumed by some collectivist, mistaken theory of utopia that cannot work.
Two historical events. Two sets of ideology. One for freedom. One for collectivism. One event fought for liberty. One event fought for mob tyranny. One fought for the opportunity to create wealth. The other fought for despising that wealth and forced wealth distribution. One side fought for property rights. The other side fought for the destruction of property rights. One hundred and fifty seven years apart. Just a few miles apart. These places might as well be light years apart. Encapsulated in one community lies the metaphor for our time. Do you celebrate the creation of industry and wealth which brings jobs and livelihoods to our people? Or do you celebrate the collective destruction of industry and wealth? If you are trying to attract industries to take root in our area, are you really thinking that celebrating a communist labor union is a good enticement? Is that a statement of support for industry? Or is it a statement that industries better beware, that this community doesn't like wealth creation with the attached work force to go with it? It's a choice. When faced with a decision on what history to celebrate, would you decide to celebrate communism or a victory for human freedom?
Lastly, I believe that if this community would take a stand for freedom, self-determination, and encouragement of wealth creation, industries would flock here. Our unemployment rate is 14.5%? Do you think that might have something to do with what our community supports and celebrates? What attitudes prevail here? What private ownership would want to buy a property in a depressed area that commemorates a communist ideology? Maybe there are some, but isn't there a conflict of purpose in this? If you want to find the answer to why industries are leaving the United States and why our area, in particular, is floundering, you just might want to ask yourself what ideology you are promoting. Communism or freedom? Collectivism or property rights? When you realize that individuals create wealth, that freedom promotes industry, and that collectivism destroys all of it, maybe you will be able to celebrate a real and sustainable prosperity. Until then, we are stuck in a self-defeating spiral of debt and poverty, looking for tax credits to develop property and, thereby, turning private property into a collective, communist project.Let’s decide which history we defend and celebrate.