Posted by: Dr. Grover B. Proctor, Jr. | 17 August 2017

The Latest Big Lie: ‘Elvis Was a Racist’


 
The Elvis Stamp

Elvis, a racist ?!

That assessment seems to be emerging more and more strongly these days. The reasoning usually goes something like this: every white male born in the South is a racist — so, by logical deduction, Elvis must have been, you know, a racist. Mary J. Blige once confessed she felt the need to pray (never a bad thing, of course) before singing one of Elvis’ hit songs “because I know Elvis was a racist.”

Elvis and Jackie Wilson

Elvis and Jackie Wilson
“Jackie, you got yourself a friend forever.”

But… how do we KNOW this? Here’s my suggestion. Poll all of the Black R&B artists of the 1950’s who knew Elvis and who are still with us today — and ask them how they feel about that.

Based on extensive research I did some years ago for a lecture series I gave on The Early History of Rock ’n’ Roll, I will bet a dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts that they would tell you they were thankful that Elvis shone a spotlight on them, their music, and the genius of R&B as a whole. They never saw him as committing “cultural appropriation” by recording their songs. Why? Because Elvis proved a truly gracious and humble mentee of these men and women, and he always gratefully admitted how much in their debt he was. According to the late, great singer Jackie Wilson (whom Elvis highly admired, and with whom he became great friends), “A lot of people have accused Elvis of stealing the black man’s music, when in fact, almost every black solo entertainer copied his stage mannerisms from Elvis!” A 2007 New York Times article thoroughly documented the fact that Elvis became a welcomed adjunct member of the African-American music community.

Elvis and B.B. King

Elvis and B.B. King
Elvis was quoted in the press as saying to B.B.,
“Thanks, man, for all the early lessons you gave me.”
King said of Elvis, “All I can say is ‘that’s my man!'”


And as for the question of Elvis being a racist, why don’t we just go straight to the top — the King himself, B.B. King. (Start by reading the caption under the photo of Elvis and King.) During a 2010 interview, “The King of the Blues” was asked specifically about any racism he observed in “The King of Rock and Roll.” (Both men were self-effacing enough to deny those titles.) The San Antonio Examiner later reported King’s unequivocal answer:

“Let me tell you the definitive truth about Elvis Presley and racism,” B.B. King said in 2010. “With Elvis, there was not a single drop of racism in that man. And when I say that, believe me I should know.” King remembers when he first met the young Presley [in Memphis’ legendary Sun Studios]. It was obvious to King how respectful and comfortable Elvis was around bluesmen. In his 1996 autobiography, King said Presley “was different. He was friendly. I remember Elvis distinctly because he was handsome, quiet and polite to a fault. Spoke with this thick molasses southern accent, and always called me ‘sir’. I liked that.”

(Links to both the New York Times and San Antonio Examiner articles are given below. I strongly believe they tell a truthful story you should read.)

Did Elvis sing “Hound Dog” like Big Mama Thornton? or “Shake, Rattle and Roll” like Big Joe Turner? or “That’s All Right” like Arthur Crudup? No, of course not. Rather than imitate (steal) these artists’ styles, he put his own “Go cat, Go!” rockabilly swing to them. But the echoes of the original artists, whom he revered, were always there.

Here are a couple of pairings of the songs Elvis adored, and his tribute to them.
 


HOUND DOG by Big Mama Thornton (live)

 


HOUND DOG by Elvis Presley (live)

 


SHAKE, RATTLE AND ROLL by Big Joe Turner (studio)

 


SHAKE, RATTLE AND ROLL by Elvis Presley (studio)

 


(Note: The Elvis version of “Shake, Rattle and Roll” was an unreleased track from the studio, which uses all of Joe Turner’s lyrics. The version that was ultimately released, and became a huge hit, omitted the verse “You wear those dresses, the sun comes shining through…” Was RCA censoring Big Joe Turner?)


 

Was Elvis a Racist? Here are the Reports; You Decide
The New York Times article to which I referred above is called “How Did Elvis Get Turned Into a Racist?” written by Peter Guralnick.
The San Antonio Examiner article from which I quoted above is called The Definitive Truth About Elvis Presley and Racism According to B.B. King written by Jack Dennis.
I strongly recommend you read both of these articles — especially if you are among those who think it necessary to hate Elvis because of the color of his skin.

(Big thanks to my friend Godfrey Cheshire for alerting me to the first of these articles, and for therefore giving me impetus to search out the second one.)

 

Posted by: Dr. Grover B. Proctor, Jr. | 3 August 2017

A Great and Humble Man


 
Today would have been the 70th birthday of my first cousin Michael B. Hooks. He is shown in the picture at the bottom, taken some time in the 1970’s, with his wonderful, lovely bride Judy Yates Hooks.

Mike was the heart and soul of us 7 Hooks cousins — with a 1.21 gigawatt smile, a heart bigger than the continental U.S., a rollicking sense of humor almost as large, and love that continuously radiated from his spirit to everyone around him.

Mike Hooks

Mike Hooks

If you were ever fortunate enough to be in the same room with him, Mike would invariably make you feel uniquely special, valuable, warm, and very important to him. You’d leave feeling like you’d known him all your life, or at least wishing that you had. (Lucky me; I did.)

He saw himself (in descending order of what was important to him) a child of God, a son/husband/father/family man, a patriotic lover of country (back when people still understood that this was a good and honorable thing), and a highly successful entrepreneur.

He felt lucky to be alive, and his life was dedicated to giving back in every way he knew.

He was truly a consummate and devoted family man. Tears try to force their way out every time I think about how Mike would have loved and doted on the fact that his two beautiful, talented daughters gave him and Judy ten grandchildren! I would have paid an admission fee just to have been able to watch him and those ten “grands” create massive joy together.

Mike was a veteran of the Vietnam War, and was afterwards a devoted leader of veterans’ causes, in particular by privately aiding individual veterans in need. Ten days after Mike’s heart-breaking early death at age 48, famed columnist and F.O.M. (Friend of Mike) Dennis Rogers published a column in Raleigh’s News and Observer, titled “A Life that Meant Something” — devoted to telling people the inside story of Mike’s private heroism. You should read it, and understand that a great and humble man walked among us.

We love you and miss you mightily, Mike!

Mike and Judy Hooks
 

Posted by: Dr. Grover B. Proctor, Jr. | 27 July 2017

Rhiannon Rides the Freedom Highway


 
Rhiannon GiddensIn less than two weeks (that would be August 9), extraordinary singer, string performer, composer, and musicologist Rhiannon Giddens will be performing at Raleigh’s Bryan Outdoor Theater at the North Carolina Museum of Art. The concert, part of her Freedom Highway Tour to promote her 2017 CD, will start at 8:00 pm, with doors opening at 6:30.

If you don’t have your tickets yet, for goodness sakes get on the ball! You’ll no doubt miss an extraordinary concert if you aren’t there.

Ms. Giddens is a Tar Heel — a native of Greensboro (“my identity is as a North Carolinian!”) — and an opera graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory. But as you can see in the concert and studio videos below, she has cast a much wider musical net. She can be heard moving seamlessly among ethnic music (“traditional” American, African-American, Native American, Celtic, Asian), as well as gospel, jazz, blues, and country.

Giddens was a co-founder of the critically acclaimed, Grammy-winning Carolina Chocolate Drops, a trio with an avowed mission “to lay claim to the African-American piece of the history of traditional American music.” Graduating into her solo career, she continues that mission, as can be heard most poignantly in the song she wrote called “Julie” (below), an imagined conversation between a female slave and her mistress as Yankee soldiers are approaching. It’ll send chills down your spine, and pierce your heart simultaneously.

I have put six of her video performances (18 minutes total) below, and I urge you to treat yourself. In the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th videos, Giddens plays an authentic 19th-century style, fretless banjo. It is just one of the many stringed instruments of which her playing is outstanding.

But it is perhaps her voice which most attracts her adoring fans. “Wayfaring Stranger” and “Julie” will bring a lump to your throat. And you won’t be able to deny a huge smile when she whoops flawlessly in “Ruby” and the traditional “Boatman Dance.” (She even makes the jaded Bill Murray shake his head in awe.) Several aspects of her near-flawless vocal control, not to mention the sheer beauty of her voice, will wow you in “Wayfaring Stranger” and “Nothin’ Else to Do.” And finally, how in the world does she (seemingly) take so few breaths in “Pretty Little Girl With the Red Dress On.” (I dare you to try and keep a dour face while listening to that one!)

Add it all up: Consummate musicianship, virtuosic chops on several instruments, a totally arresting voice, a great backing band, and songs running the emotional gamut that will send chills and bring tears and smiles. Enjoy! See you August 9!!
 


RUBY   (3:57)

 


(I AM A POOR) WAYFARING STRANGER  (2:28)

 


NOTHIN’ ELSE TO DO  (3:15)

 


BOATMAN DANCE  (1:36)

 


JULIE  (3:47)

 


PRETTY LITTLE GIRL WITH THE BLUE DRESS ON  (3:01)

 


 

Freedom Highway

Rhiannon Giddens

The
Freedom Highway
Tour

Wednesday, August 9, 2017
8:00 PM
Doors Open at 6:30 PM

Joseph M. Bryan, Jr. Theater
North Carolina Museum of Art
 
 
For ticket information,
CLICK HERE.

 

Posted by: Dr. Grover B. Proctor, Jr. | 27 July 2017

Rameses Agonistes


 
Anyone who has known me for more than 15 minutes knows how much of a “bleed-Carolina-blue” Tar Heel fan I have always been. I expect always to be.

Rameses Agonistes

Rameses Agonistes
(Rameses in inner turmoil)

That having been said, I have been from the beginning one of the most vocal critics of my beloved alma mater over (a) their scandalous academic behavior and (b) their scandalous deny-deny-deny, sweep-scandal-under-the-rug behavior. I find it rotten to the core.

A cousin of mine drew my attention today to a CBS article by renowned sports commentator John Feinstein. Sadly, I find a huge amount in it with which I agree. (Click to read his entire article.)

As much as I understand and sympathize with his broader message, I should point out that I saw immediately that he got at least a couple of little things wrong:

First, the dates of the upcoming NCAA hearing are August 16-17, not Aug. 14 as he says.

Second — and this is far more important — it was not something called the “North Carolina Accrediting Agency for academic institutions” which put UNC on accreditation probation, as asserted in the article. No such agency exists. Carolina was put on a year’s accreditation probation (“usually, but not necessarily, the last step before an institution is removed from” accreditation) by SACS, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. It is from SACS (and SACS alone) that Carolina receives “national” accreditation that covers the entire institution. Without it, no Federal financial aid would be possible for any student attending. Let that sink in!

Back to Feinstein: it’s catching these two “little” but important mistakes which makes me wonder what else he may have gotten wrong.

What he definitely got right is how Carolina got itself into this mess in the first place. If you’ve been living on Mars, or otherwise distracted, the last 2 decades, here’s his summary:


 
         The basic premise of the investigation is this: During a period that might have been as long as 18 years (!!) dating from 1993, numerous Carolina athletes were involved in sham classes in the African and Afro-American studies department.
         In all, according to reporting done by the Raleigh
News & Observer and an independent report sanctioned by UNC, about 3,100 students participated in the sham classes. Roughly half were scholarship athletes and many – most – were either football or basketball players.
         The classes, according to the reports, never met and the work required was absolutely minimal – if there was any work done at all.


 

All that said, I feel torn down to my Carolina-blue-blood between, on the one hand, my intense anger at UNC’s egregious academic sins coupled with my sense of justice which demands punishment for those sins — and, on the other hand, my love for and admiration of the Carolina student-athletes who will likely suffer a great deal of the blowback from whatever judicial sanction bomb the NCAA explodes in Chapel Hill. It was not the athletes’ fault that the school offered those fake classes, nor that their athletic staff pushed them to take them.

Feinstein closes by saying, “The only question is whether academic fraud took place. The athletic director says it did. Which is why Carolina’s punishment must be harsh for the NCAA to retain what little credibility it has left.

I wonder what will happen.

 

Posted by: Dr. Grover B. Proctor, Jr. | 23 July 2017

If Vivent Comes Knocking, Caveat Emptor


 

 
Caveat emptor, let the buyer beware, has been part of the English language since 1523, when it was used in connection with the sale of a horse, which might have been ridden upon and be tame or might be wild. If wild, it was not the merchant who had to beware, but caveat emptor, beware thou buyer.”

— District Judge Michael Joseph Reagan (S.D. Illinois)
Spivey v. Adaptive Marketing, 23 September 2009

What follows is a recent true example of how important this legal dictum and common sense truth remains. Read on and Beware.

 
Upfront, in the spirit of full disclosure, let me say that this article is based solely on the experience my wife and I had with the door-to-door salesperson who represented himself as working for Vivint Smart Home. It turned out to be a most unsatisfactory experience (for us and for him, as well, I’m sure), and I feel very good about the fact that we did not become Vivint customers that day — regardless of how good Vivint’s products may or may not be.

In his favor, let me say the door-to-door salesman was very well trained by whatever marketing company he works for (see below). He is clearly well versed in the sales approach that they want him to use, one that has no doubt proved to work well in this kind of suburban setting. He had the “company line” down pat for every question, objection, skepticism, or comment we had.

Unfortunately, what they have trained him to do is to vaguely promise the moon and half the stars up front to get us homeowners interested. But as the details begin to emerge, we’re left being offered only a couple of acres of scrubland in Utah. (Pardon my metaphor.) It’s a common ploy, and I’ve been exposed to it in various forms throughout the years. (Since then, I have wondered if he realized that I was sitting there, predicting his next ploy, point by point, as he was attempting to play on our egos, our supposed vulnerabilities, and our greed.)

Vivint logoThe major “hook” they use is to make you think you are getting an insider’s deal (that will not be made available to anyone else, you are assured). They merely need to “pre-qualify” you to see if you are “verbal” enough and “social media savvy” enough to promote their products for them in the neighborhood and online. “If people see our sign in your yard,” he glibly began, “and come and ask you about it, it would be worth it to us to give you this equipment so that you would tell them how much you like it. Do you have iPhones? Do you ever go online, like Facebook? Do you blog? Do you know your neighbors well?

You’re supposed to think, “Well, heck yeah! You give me all this equipment free (or even at a substantial discount) and I’ll tell the world! That’s easy!!” In other words, you’re supposed to think they are willing to give you something for basically nothing. Well, clearly, they have zero interest in that.

Finally, excruciating detail after repeated excruciating detail, “pre-qualifying” gimmick after “pre-qualifying” gimmick, he finally gets to the money. And, as it turns out, nothing’s free. They are trained to use a “step down” discount method when dealing with costs. It begins this way: “How much do you think you would pay if you bought this directly from Vivint’s website? What if you went to Home Depot and bought it, what do you think they’d charge you? Either way, you’ll have to pay installation and activation fees.” He then writes down numbers for all the extraneous charges, PLUS the ridiculous retail amount for the equipment (expect it to be at or over $2000 for equipment alone). Then the whittling down starts.

If you’re willing to agree today, I’ll knock this charge off. I’ll reduce that fee. You won’t even have to pay the full amount for installation; we’ll cut that down to almost half. And we’ll even take the $99 standard monthly fee, slice it in half to $49 a month just for you.” He conveniently forgot to point out that Vivint’s own literature says the monthly fee starts at only $39.

And what about all that equipment he said at the beginning he wants to “give” us?

Vivint offer

Well, surprise! There was absolutely no equipment free or discounted in what this young man wanted to sell us! His “deal” required that we pay the entire roughly $2000 total manufacturer’s list price for all the equipment in the package!

Oh, but because he really wanted to put this equipment in our house — you know, so that our neighbors will also want to buy it — he was willing to spread the payments out (no discount, but interest free) over 60 months. Because we would only be paying one-sixtieth of the equipment’s total list price each month (in addition to the “forever,” supposedly discounted monthly fee), I’m sure he counted on our forgetting about all those things he, at first, hinted about “giving” us.

He skated a razor’s breadth from the line of untruths, but (to the credit of those who trained him) I never actually caught him lying. (I can’t say the same about the pair of young AT&T salesladies who once told me, I discovered later, whopper after whopper in an effort to get me to sign on the dotted line.)

At this point, I began my boatload of questions to our Vivint marketer. First, do you personally work directly for Vivint? “Well, of course! See my shirt?” No, that’s not good enough. Most of the door-to-door people that have come by here say they’re working for the main company, but are instead working for a Marketing firm hired to put hoards of people out on the streets to knock on doors. So he said, “See, I’ll show you. When I finish getting all the information I need from you, I call this number.” He made a great show of dialing 801-437-4037, from which a man answered saying, “Account Creation. What is your badge number?” — at which point our salesman hung up. I guess he thought I looked gullible enough to believe that this little charade actually proved something.

I have not yet been able to discover whether that phone number does or does not belong to Vivint. I did find one website that said the phone number belonged to “Gary Jackson, N 920 West St., Provo, Utah” — which appears to be a cul-de-sac of 7 small homes near Carterville Park and University Boulevard — but I don’t know if I believe that page either. (By the way, the salesman kept repeatedly saying that the home office of Vivint is in “Utah, Provo”   seemingly unaware that there is no such place, and as if believing that this fact would infuse some additional credibility to the company and his sales pitch.)

Vivint panelAnd I never got a straight answer from him giving me proof that he actually was an employee of Vivint.

By this time in our conversation, I had been on my tablet and found a Yelp review page for Vivint — on which 93% of reviewers gave Vivint the lowest rating possible; ouch!! — and similar customer screeds from several other sites. This confirmed for me what I had been feeling all along — that I didn’t want to do business with this salesman or this company.

I told him I would not sign a contract to pay for equipment over a period of 5 years after only hearing a high-pressure 30-minute sales pitch. He said, “I tell you what. I’ll give you 3 business days to decide if you like it. No, I’ll even stretch that to 2 weeks! If you were over 70 years old, I could give you a whole month, but I can’t put anything false in my order. Anyway, if you decide you don’t want it during that 2 weeks, you call us and we’ll come out and get all our equipment and refund all the money you’ve paid us to that point.

My final attempt to make sure we were understanding him correctly was this: So let me get this straight. Vivint has forbidden you to let me take a few days (1) to read your contract in detail, (2) to research your company and this offer, and (3) to compare it to your competitors — before I sign on the dotted line to pay for the equipment over a period of 5 years, as well as the $49 monthly fee? “No. You have to do it today. You can always decide in that 2 weeks that you don’t want it.” (…repeating sales pitch over and over, as if hearing it the 21st time be the magical tipping point.)

Clearly we were talking in circles around each other. We told him that, even if we loved the product and the deal (which, by this time, we didn’t), we would never be willing to sign or commit to anything this quickly. Further, we said that we understood him to be saying that the deal was not possible unless it happened today. “Well, what if I call my manager and get the FULL installation fee waived?

Seeing that he was clearly not going to convert this investment of his time into a profitable sale, his demeanor quickly changed into a simmering, sulky hostility.

My final words to him: No, sir. Have a good day.

Be very careful, folks, about deals that seem too good to be true, if only you’ll sign on the dotted line TODAY. You’re almost certain to regret it.

No Soliciting
 

Posted by: Dr. Grover B. Proctor, Jr. | 15 June 2017

Tweet: ‘Kill Republicans’ & ‘Abort Christ’


 
As if the Berkeley riots, and other Antifa violence, were not enough. And as if the message of a publicly funded (by the city and state of New York) musical (!!) called Killing Republicans were not splashed on playbills all over NYC. (Where, you might ask, was this “rock opera” staged? Why, at the Shooting Gallery Arts Annex, of course. You can’t make this stuff up.)

Lars MaischakIt seems as if a California university teacher’s call for the Killing of Republicans may have been heard and acted upon. (Thank God that, as yet, there are no innocent fatalities from the Arlington shooting — but not for lack of trying.)

The tweets that featured the grinning face of Fresno State’s lecturer Lars Maischak (until they were deleted) have given him the 15 minutes of fame he seems to have sought. Try these on for size:

  • “To save American democracy, Trump must hang. The sooner and the higher, the better.”
  • “Has anyone started soliciting money and design drafts for a monument honoring the Trump assassin, yet?”
  • “Justice = the execution of two Republicans for each deported immigrant.”
  • “When California secedes, you Fascist Trump-voting white trash scum can wallow in your filthy hell-holes of flyover states. Enjoy.”
  • “A democracy must not be tolerant of those who want to abolish democracy. It must vigorously defend itself. Ban the GOP.”
  • “Given the nature of his [Trump’s] regime, he will be held accountable for his crimes in a court, and historical precedent suggests that a death sentence is inevitable, if democracy prevails.”

And finally, there’s this malignantly vulgar one:

  • “If only Mary had had an abortion! We would have been spared this Clerical-Fascist crap. HisGlory, my ass!”

Lars Maischak quote

The Arlington gunman was solely responsible for his own actions. Period. Full stop.

No government-funded “rock opera,” no HuffPost screed, no politician, no ultra-left militia group, no cable news talking head, no Hollywood starlet — not even comrade Lars Maischak himself, urging on the Revolution from his safe position behind his computer screen — none of these bears responsibility for the 50+ rounds fired at Congressional Republicans.

But one cannot help wondering, what was the cocktail of violence-infused philosophical pabulum that justified to him this particular exercise of his free will?

Lecturer Maischak, of course, has every God-given right to his own opinion about anything, including Christianity. But as a matter of correcting error, I would suggest that, given his fixation with the execution of President Trump and his wished-for in utero killing of Christ, he might be shaking his own impotent finger in the wrong direction.

After all, it wasn’t Marx, or Hegel, or Lenin, or Stalin, or Mao, or Bill Ayers, or Hillary Clinton that gave us the universal antidote to this philosophical fantasy of death — it was that singular revolutionary document called The Bible. I would be so bold as to suggest that if the Arlington gunman’s philosophy were based on THIS, Congressman Scalise would be back at baseball practice today.

Please read and emulate, lecturer Maischak:

“You have heard that it was said, Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
(Matthew 5:43-44)

“Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable — if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise — dwell on these things.”
(Phililppians 4:8)

“Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.”
(Titus 3:1-3)


 

Killing Republicans: The Musical
 

Posted by: Dr. Grover B. Proctor, Jr. | 1 June 2017

A Tar Heel Excommunication


 
Life MemberThe unthinkably unimaginable has happened! 🙂

Your humble correspondent, Grover Proctor — lifelong fierce and loyal Tar Heel fan, who bleeds Carolina blue, and who was literally “Tar Heel born and Tar Heel bred” — has been excommunicated from a private Facebook group that calls itself “Die Hard Tar Heel Fans Only!!! (Official).” (Translation: I was booed, hissed, cursed, fired, dismissed, kicked out, shooed away, shoved aside, run out of town on a rail, etc., etc. — in case it wasn’t clear.)

Me? Unceremoniously stricken from the rolls of Tar Heel fandom? Surely you jest!

Oh, I was welcomed with open arms, as long as my participation exclusively mirrored the group’s choruses of “rah rah Carolina-lina” and “aren’t we the greatest in the world? and eff-you if you say we aren’t” and “let’s think of every smug, hateful, and obscene thing we can say about Duke [which, of course, they spell “dook”], Coach K, Tony ‘one-and-done’ Bradley, Rashad ‘turncoat’ McCants, Jay ‘Duke Boy’ Bilas, anything at all to do with the NCAA, and everything that is not ‘pry the Dean Dome from my cold dead fingers’ loyalty.”

Did everyone behave this way? Of course not; I found many wonderful, ebullient, friendly Heels fans there, and I thoroughly enjoyed my interactions with them. But it surely seemed as though the jerks were often the most vocal.

Ah, but among some in the group, there was a feeling that the serpent had nefariously crept into Paradise, in the form of my recent post (click here to read the unabridged version), where I urged the Carolina administration and leadership to take ownership of the school’s academic scandal, accept their deserved punishment, apologize to those harmed, and never ever do it again.

To be fair, I got as many “Likes” from group members as there were screeds from “disagreers,” before they once-and-for-all severed my metaphorical UNC umbilical cord. There was even one member whose opening volley was fiercely in “attack Grover” mode, but who, after a few brief exchanges of civil discourse between us, turned out to be one of the nicest people I’ve met on the Interwebs. It’s a friendship I hope lasts a long time.

But, boy howdy! The lethal venom and totally ad hominem attacks that ensued would make Bobby Knight blush. You would have thought I was the fleshly embodiment of the Voldemoron spirits of everyone who espouses the ABC philosophy (Anybody but Carolina). I was accused of being a Duke fan who crept in unawares (“go back to your dookie group!”), a shill for the evil NCAA, and obviously a misanthropic surrogate for Rashad “Benedict Arnold” McCants.

The group’s Moderator boasts that the site “is a NO DRAMA FREE group!!” I do not think that means what he thinks it means. The group proudly boasts it is “a place for all Tar Heel Fans to unite!!!” (Your experience may vary.) Grounds for getting “kicked out of the group” consist of “Don’t start nothing.” Saying that I’m a huge Tar Heel fan, but that I abhorred the UNC athletics/academics scandal… that was “starting something”?

Many of the rank-and-file members of the group (there are 38,000+ of them at present), as well as apparently its Moderator, will brook absolutely no criticism of anything related to Carolina Nation. Unless, of course, you are criticizing Rashad McCants, in which case it seems to be open season to libel him with as many profanity-laced tirades as you please.


 
RASHAD McCANTS ON UNC ATHLETICS AND ACADEMICS (6:55)
 

(IF YOUTUBE MAKES YOU WATCH A TACKY AD FIRST, MY APOLOGIES!)


 

(For those of you who don’t know Mr. McCants’ significance here, he had the unmitigated gall to assert that, while a student and star basketballer at UNC, he had been placed in a series of “no-work, easy-A” classes after his GPA began to drop into dangerous territory that threatened his playing eligibility. Lo and behold, several years (and $3.1 million) later, Carolina commissioned the Wainstein Report, which affirmed all of that sordid academic story. However, as I found out by my brief affiliation with this FB group, there is an amazing level of vituperative hatred of Mr. McCants for his supposed “traitorous lies” — the same Rashad McCants whom they wildly cheered not all that long ago when he helped Carolina win a national championship. Go figure.)

Back to my excommunication. Please understand: I absolutely agree with the right of the Founder or Moderator of a Facebook group to include and exclude anyone, at will. Admit me; throw me out; it’s your prerogative. That’s not at issue.

This turn of events would be HILARIOUS to me (ME? not Tar Heel enough for a UNC fan page??), were it not one more sign of the times — We are “us” and there are only two possibilities for you: if you are 100% “us,” then, by definition, there is no one greater than you; but if you are NOT “us,” then DIE, HERETIC, and burn in effing heck. (Which, by the way, was one of the things written to me on the site, though my version here has softened the linguistic edges.) It feels like a culturally systemic case of borderline personality disorder.

Do I care about being thrown out of the supposed “in-crowd”? First of all, they aren’t that; and second, I truly could not care less one way or the other. I got into the group to have fun and share information with like-minded Carolina fans, and I now walk away for the same reason.

Dean SmithBut folks — especially those in the “I love Carolina” universe — can we just try a little harder to re-establish civility, harmony, decency, humility, brotherhood/sisterhood, and a love of hearing opposing viewpoints in a spirit of camaraderie and growth, in our discourse and in our lives?

What would Dean want us to do? “I do believe in praising that which deserves to be praised.” “You should just do the right thing.”

Let’s try. Let’s meet half way.

Posted by: Dr. Grover B. Proctor, Jr. | 31 May 2017

This ol’ Carolina Boy is Sorely Disappointed


 
Now, I’m just an ol’ Carolina boy and a fiercely loyal University of North Carolina fan. (Tar Heel born, Tar Heel bred, etc. etc.) I love my school and will ’til the day I’m a Tar Heel dead.

But I have refused to close my eyes to the ongoing academic/athletic scandal that has rocked the school and sullied its reputation. I earned my living for most of my professional life teaching and as a dean in Higher Education. As I began to hear the details of the UNC scandal, I knew exactly what the checks and balances, oversights, and academic rigor enforcements were which should have been in place — and which should have kept or stopped something like this from happening immediately — but which had been non-existent, unknown, innocently ignored, or maliciously flouted.

NCAA AllegationsIt resulted in academic fraud and (we may soon learn from the NCAA) athletic malfeasance. I am terribly angry at and greatly disappointed in my beloved alma mater for allowing this demeaning of the value of my education and diploma, and that of a huge number of of students and student-athletes. Here’s how things stand now, as we await the NCAA hearing scheduled for mid-August.

UNC’s sole response to the NCAA at this point seems to be, in essence, “Screw you. You only have power over us in Athletics. You have no authority over what we do in Academics. That is the job of our accreditors. So bug off!”

“The University takes seriously its obligations to comply with NCAA bylaws, but fundamentally believes that the matters at issue here were of an academic nature that do not implicate the NCAA bylaws,” the school said through the mouth of one of its attorneys, from a Chicago/New York law firm whom Carolina is paying an hourly rate of $990 per partner and a minimum of $450 per associate for the foreseeable future.

It is highly ironic to hear this coming from the school whose academic malfeasance caused their accreditors to put them on probation — because UNC “had failed to meet seven standards, including academic integrity and control over college athletics” and “showed little control over athletics.” According to those accreditors, probation is “usually, but not necessarily, invoked as the last step before an institution is removed” from accreditation. The accreditation agency’s probationary status for Carolina ended in June 2016 because the school had convinced them that they had put sufficient “safeguards in place to ensure this doesn’t happen [again.]” Let’s hope this turns out to be true.

As a result of its year on accreditation probation, Carolina is now alleging it has done its time in academic purgatory and has repented of its sins, therefore the NCAA has no standing to pronounce sanctions on them.

That reasoning might sound okay on a first, hurried reading — except for the fact that satisfactory and real academic progress (as defined by the NCAA) is a non-negotiable criterion for athletic eligibility!

If you falsify one to fraudulently achieve the other, Carolina, you have linked them inseparably.

Athletes must keep their GPA high enough to meet NCAA standards, or they will be declared academically ineligible. It’s over. Sayonara. How greatly might any school sin if one (or several) of their star football or basketball players was in a deeply deficient GPA situation?

When the scandal broke, Carolina (to its credit) hired a former Federal prosecutor to do a thorough, complete, no-holds-barred, we-have-nothing-to-hide investigation. When Ken Wainstein came to campus to present his 131-page Report in October of 2014, the stunned faces of UNC System President Tom Ross and UNC-CH Chancellor Carol Folt were all we needed to see to know that some major manure had been raked up. Three-and-a-half pages of the Report’s Executive Summary contain nothing but bullet-points of wrongdoings. The following are verbatim excerpts from just the first of those pages:

Former Federal Prosecutor Ken Wainstein presents his Report to the UNC leadership.

Former Federal Prosecutor Ken Wainstein presents his Report to the UNC leadership.

  • shadow curriculum… flawed instruction through the offering of “paper classes”… no interaction with a faculty member… required no class attendance or course work other than a single paper… resulted in consistently high grades… awarded without reading the papers or otherwise evaluating their true quality.
  • to help struggling students and student-athletes… felt sympathy for under-prepared students who struggled with the demanding Chapel Hill curriculum… affinity for student-athletes in particular… gave them ready access to these watered-down classes.
  • 18 years these classes existed… hundreds of individual independent studies in the “paper class” format — with no class attendance or faculty involvement, and with [Deborah] Crowder [“non-faculty,” “secretary”] managing the class and liberally grading the papers… over 3,100 students received one or more semesters of deficient instruction and were awarded high grades that often had little relationship to the quality of their work.
  • grades earned in these paper classes were significantly higher than grades awared in the regular classes… average grade issued to all identified students in the paper classes was 3.62 [out of a possible 4.0].
  • student-athletes accounted for a disproportionately high percentage of enrollments in the paper classes… 47.4% were student-athletes, even though student-athletes make up just over 4% of the Chapel Hill undergraduate student body… 50.9% [of these] were football players, 12.2% were men’s basketball players, 6.1% were women’s baskteball players, and 30.6% were Olympic and other sport athletes.

(If you want to read the entire report (or if your stomach won’t tolerate that, then just the explosive Executive Summary), you can find it by clicking here.)

These (and so many more) are the findings of the independent legal Consultant — bought and paid for by UNC, to the tune of $3.1 million — for whom all doors on campus were opened and to whom access to everything was granted. Carolina owns these findings. All the evidence indicates that the school provided at least one avenue for an extraordinary number of “under-prepared” student-athletes who “struggled with the demanding Chapel Hill curriculum,” in order to circumvent normal academic rigor and receive unmerited high grades for minimal or no work.

And now, Carolina’s latest ploy is to say that the NCAA has no right to use the findings of the Wainstein Report as evidence against them. Surely they’re not trying to assert that the school has something similar to 5th Amendment rights against self-incrimination?!?

I love you with all my heart, Carolina! I’m forever proud of the education you gave me. And I love and have admired every athlete who has ever worn a UNC jersey!

But you did wrong. Fake classes with no professor, no attendance or residency requirement, and the minimal required work was graded by a secretary? Did easy A’s = easy eligibility?

And you know you did wrong. So… sit down, shut up, take the punishment you deserve, apologize profusely and continually to the athletes whose degrees you have demeaned and whose reputations you have sullied — and never, EVER do this crap again!

‘Nuff said.

Posted by: Dr. Grover B. Proctor, Jr. | 19 May 2017

You Should Seek ‘The Searchers’


 
My wife and I had the great pleasure on May 18 to view the East Coast premiere of The Searchers, the award-winning documentary film by Randolph Benson. The audience at Chapel Hill’s Varsity Theater seemed unanimous in their admiration of the film’s quality, and the vital slice of American history it has preserved so heroically.

Winner of the 2017 Orson Welles Award at the prestigious Triburon International Film Festival, The Searchers calls itself “a portrait of researchers of the assassination of John F. Kennedy.”

Randolph Benson

Randolph Benson

Fourteen years in the making, the film uses never-before-seen interviews, archival footage and recently declassified documents to chronicle the past and present of these ordinary citizens and their contributions to revealing the truth about the crime of the 20th century.

Suffering ridicule, and being labeled with the intellectual scarlet letter of conspiracy theorists, these individuals have challenged the institutions of power for over 50 years. They have fought against great odds to, as they often proclaim, “take back our history!”

The film features a literal “Who’s Who” of those who have given most to the investigation: Cyril Wecht, Robert Groden, Josiah Thompson, Mark Lane, John Judge, Jim Marrs, Jim DiEugenio, Debra Conway, Gary Aguilar, Lisa Pease, Rex Bradford, Walt Brown, Andy Winiarczyk and John Kelin, among many others.



A “great strength of the film is that it is made for an audience that is not necessarily expert in all things JFK,” noted film critic Joseph Green. “The director made it, in his words, for ‘himself, before I got into all this.'” These researchers were at first scorned, then completely shunned, by the mainstream media — having the effect of caricaturing the people and censoring their message. This film “counters that by simply letting the critics speak about the case without being interfered with. . . . The great achievement of the film is to humanize the researchers themselves.”

Randolph Benson (whom I am fortunate and honored to call friend) is an award-winning, Durham-based filmmaker. His films have garnered the Gold Medal in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Student Academy Awards and a Kodak Excellence in Filmmaking Award at the Cannes Film Festival, among others. His work has been featured on the Bravo Network, the Independent Film Channel and UNC-TV as well as several international channels.

A graduate of Wake Forest University and the North Carolina School of the Arts, Benson has taught at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University for more than 10 years. He is author of the article “JFK, Oswald and the Raleigh Connection,” as well as the highly intriguing and informative “13 Documents You Should Read About the JFK Assassination.”

As is, alas, the case with all too many highly deserving documentaries, The Searchers is not currently set for national release. That is all the more reason you should haunt its Official Web Site to keep track of scheduled showings. Find one near you, and go. Even if you do not know much about the JFK assassination, you need to see the human drama of these men and women unfold in Benson’s deft telling. Seriously.
 


THE SEARCHERS by RANDOLPH BENSON (OFFICIAL TRAILER)
 

(1:25)   ●   COPYRIGHT 2017 THE SEARCHERS DOCUMENTARY LLC
 

 
The SearchersThe Searchers

Posted by: Dr. Grover B. Proctor, Jr. | 27 April 2017

My Dallas Interview (2015)


When I was in Dallas in November 2015, preparing to deliver my presentation From Dallas to Raleigh: Lee Oswald and the Fingerprints of Intelligence, I was asked to do an interview on a wide ranging set of issues related to the Kennedy Assassination. Quite by chance, I discovered today that the 40-minute interview has just been posted (uncut, and in HD) on Youtube. (It can be viewed below.)

I was responding to questions from Tom Keener (lecture series impresario extraordinaire), who unfortunately was apparently not mic’ed well (if at all). So you have to really strain to hear his questions — which is a shame, because he asked some excellent ones.

As was the case in their HD video of my lecture, the production values of this interview are excellent (apart from Tom sounding way-off-stage). So once again, let me say how much of a delight it was be hosted by Tom, and to work with his exemplary staff of videographers, producers, and editors.

(During that same visit to Dallas, I was interviewed at great length by the Sixth Floor Museum, for their Oral History Project about the Assassination. Due to the Museum’s restrictions, I am forbidden to publish or post that interview in any manner.)

 


INTERVIEW: THE RALEIGH CALL AND THE FINGERPRINTS OF INTELLIGENCE
 

(42:24)   ●   19 NOVEMBER 2015
 

 

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