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  • Phil Latham

Our 'crazy' has been plumb for far too long

Well maybe it is just the time of year

Or maybe it’s the time of man…

– “Woodstock,” Joni Mitchell

People seem to have gone over the edge in the last few years. Each passing day brings us closer to plumb, plumb crazy, that is.

I can’t say when it started or why. Worse yet, I couldn’t tell you how to stop it. You may want me to blame someone or some group particularly. Sorry, that simply brings us one degree closer to perpendicular. The fact is, all sorts of people or things could be cited as culprits.

It could be the pandemic, or the pandemic hoax for non-believers. Donald Trump would be high on the list of causes for some, others would pick Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, or Hillary Clinton, Margaret Sanger, Karl Marx, Adolf Hitler, Fox News, all the rest of the “liberal” media, Kanye West, Blippi, face masks, the Rev. Al Sharpton, Antifa, the rainbow of white supremacist organizations, China, Russia, Venezuela, Black Lives Matter, that guy who runs the pizza parlor in Washington D.C., Sacco and Vanzetti.

Here in Tyler, Abraham Lincoln – may he rest in peace – would probably get a lot of the blame. Actually, if you get right down to the nub of the matter, it is all Lincoln’s fault in much of the South, though it is hard to find anyone who will come right out and say the words.

I’ve been amazed to read so may white people who suggest that Tyler has been a “peaceful” place all these years and it is only now that troublemakers are causing problems.

Translated this means that Blacks and their allies need to keep quiet and in their place — wherever that is — all will be peaceful.

Racism drips from most of what these people say like acid eating through a plastic bottle. Watch out below.

Many years ago, I reported on a murder trial of a 65-year-old man in Angelina County.

His last name was “Allen,” which I only remember because he lived in a community called, appropriately, Allentown, where almost everyone had the same last name. Rumor was, there was a serious lack of genetic diversity in Allentown but I can’t verify that.

Allentown was not a place for the weak – or for any person of color, which is why Mr. Allen was on trial in the first place. The deputy was black.


He had a warrant out for his arrest on some fairly minor crime, a misdemeanor but more than a traffic ticket. On one particular Saturday, that black deputy was sent to Mr. Allen’s house serve the warrant.

He knocked on the door, identified himself and Mr. Allen put a bullet hole in his chest with his deer rifle. The deed done, Allen headed out the back door into the fields and forests — with his rifle for protection, of course. The deputy, barely alive, still managed to get word back to the Sheriff’s Office that he had been shot. He died before anyone could get there to help him.

The trial was tense, to say the least. I had reported on the story from the day the deputy died until the trial and everyone knew I was the bad man saying mean things about kindly Mr. Allen, who had just been protecting himself from the black man.

At each recess, all the Allen clan would line the hallways and allow as how I might end up like the deputy if I didn’t watch out. They were just words, no one physically did anything and, until this moment, I’ve never written about it.

Testimony was sickening and racist. The residents said the Sheriff should have known that black people weren’t welcome in Allentown. The deputy had been asking for trouble, talking to Mr. Allen as he had. He should have known his “place.”

Worst of all, when the jury rendered its verdict, Allen wasn’t convicted of capital murder, as charged, but of a lesser included charge of manslaughter.

You couldn’t have convinced me at the time that Black Lives Matter, at least not to the jury. Nor was anyone talking about how they “backed the blue.”

Plumb crazy isn’t new, unfortunately. We’ve been true to plumb for far too long.

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