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Go Back to Africa, Aberdonian Tells Blacks in Defense of Confederate Flag

Sorry, Leo….

On Thursday, columnist Lawrence Diggs of Roslyn advised the Gettysburg Police Department to stop displaying the Confederate flag on its uniform patches. Diggs said apologists for the Stars and Bars must engage in “mental gymnastics” to say the flag represents “history” without acknowledging its historic symbolism of slavery and white supremacist movements:

Lawrence Diggs, columnist, Roslyn, SD
Lawrence Diggs, columnist, Roslyn, SD

Despite the fact that some people try to blur the inescapable historical truth, the Civil War was mostly about maintaining the right of some people to hold others as slaves. The Confederate flag to both people who are in favor of slavery and those against slavery has the unavoidable stench of the support for this despicable practice.

This connection is not lost on segregationists and “white supremacists” who use it as a symbol for their movements. As Southern historian Gordon Rhea put it, “It is no accident that Confederate symbols have been the mainstay of white supremacist organizations, from the Ku Klux Klan to the skinheads. They did not appropriate the Confederate battle flag simply because it was pretty. They picked it because it was the flag of a nation dedicated to their ideals: ‘that the negro is not equal to the white man.’ ” These groups are known for acts of terrorism, so the Confederate flag symbol also has the taint of terrorism [Lawrence Diggs, “Gettysburg Confederate Police Patches Send Wrong Message,” Aberdeen American News, 2015.07.23].

Among today’s letters to the editor, Brian Jenson of Aberdeen advises Lawrence Diggs to go back to Africa:

Brian Jenson: If I can't have my traitor flag, blacks can't have America!
Brian Jenson: If I can’t have my traitor flag, blacks can’t have America!

Since this Confederate flag is a symbol of slavery and white supremacy, if the flag must go, then all descendants of slaves should be sent back to wherever their parents’ grandparents and great-grandparents came from. If one must go, then both go!

If it wasn’t for the history of this country, there is a lot of them that would have never experienced the liberties that they now enjoy [Brian Jenson, letter to the editor, Aberdeen American News, 2015.07.26].

Oh my…

Shall we take wagers on whether Brian Jenson is voting for Ted Cruz in 2016?

I cannot conceive of the logical steps Mr. Jenson would follow that would allow him to equate the removal of a racist, traitor flag from official public display with the forced deportation of 42 million American citizens. I cannot map the logic that says blacks and other Americans who have fought for liberty should accept as innocuous a flag that represents the denial of liberty, the taking of labor without pay, and the treatment of African Americans as subhuman property.

But that’s the thing: there is no logic in Mr. Jenson’s letter, only ignorance and racism.

Related Reading: Olympic 10K champion Billy Mills visited the Black Hills last week:

In custer, South Dakota we stopped for restroom break. Pat and one granddaughter used a restaurant bathroom (I went in with them) I was asked to use the restroom at the gas station….. One daughter and her son went into a snack shop and the manager called from the back room: “watch them!”

I remember being terrified of white people when my grandpa or dad would take me to custer. Things haven’t changed much! [Billy Mills, Facebook post, 2015.07.25]

What’s it going to take to cure South Dakota, East River and West, of racism?


  1. David Newquist 2015-07-26

    If it wasn’t for the history of this country, black folks would not have enjoyed the wearing of shackles, beatings, lynchings, segregation, and all the atrocities committed on them. However, sending people back to the country of their origins is attractive to the native American people. I wonder if whatever Scandinavian country Mr. Jenson descends from is willing to receive him. If he is from the Dakotas, he is on wrongfully taken land.

  2. Leo Kallis 2015-07-26

    No apologies necessary. I realize my view stands at odds with most folk.

    I will stand by my point that the flags discussion distracts from dealing with deeper problems like mental health or the folly of waging a military attack on an ideology.

    For the record, the only place the Confederate battle flag should be flown with government support is displays that includes flags of nations the United States has gone to war with.

    As for the Confederate battle flag having little to do with slavery or racism, the South Carolina Articles of Secession took a different approach (Maybe someone has quoted them earlier. If so I apologize for the duplication)

    “. . . A geographical line has been drawn across the Union, and all the States north of that line have united in the election of a man to the high office of President of the United States, whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery. He is to be entrusted with the administration of the common Government, because he has declared that that “Government cannot endure permanently half slave, half free,” and that the public mind must rest in the belief that slavery is in the course of ultimate extinction.

    This sectional combination for the submersion of the Constitution, has been aided in some of the States by elevating to citizenship, persons who, by the supreme law of the land, are incapable of becoming citizens; and their votes have been used to inaugurate a new policy, hostile to the South, and destructive of its beliefs and safety.

    On the 4th day of March next, this party will take possession of the Government. It has announced that the South shall be excluded from the common territory, that the judicial tribunals shall be made sectional, and that a war must be waged against slavery until it shall cease throughout the United States.

    The guaranties of the Constitution will then no longer exist; the equal rights of the States will be lost. The slaveholding States will no longer have the power of self-government, or self-protection, and the Federal Government will have become their enemy.”

  3. Owen 2015-07-26

    sadly I believe there are a lot of these kind of people her in South Dakota. I don’t know how you fight such ignorance.
    Jensen for Cruz? could be or for Trump as well.

  4. Roger Cornelius 2015-07-26

    I don’t know Jensen’s true pedigree, but I would guess it is mongrel and therefore I wouldn’t be able to tell him, “go back to ……” Logic would tell we would end up sending pieces of him to several nations.
    The use of that phrase “go back to Africa” or the one we hear most in Rapid City, “go back to the rez” is actually a message saying you do not belong. Your skin color, your religion, or your clothing is not to my personal liking and it makes you different from me therefore you are not acceptable.
    Recall, that “go back to the rez” was one of racial taunts used against the American Horse 57.
    I’ve known Billy all my life, in our childhood neighborhood Billy’s sister Thelma lived across the street from us and he spent a lot of time with the neighborhood kids. Several times my parents helped him get to Kansas University because he didn’t have the resources.
    Custer has not changed. Again I recall experiences from my youth. When reservation schools played football, basketball, or ran track in Custer we could expect racial slurs from gas stations, grocery stores and at the sporting event themselves. Often times it would appear that we were playing against 7 men on the basketball court given how the “referees” helped the Custer team.
    Like the hockey game incident, racial taunts were mostly made toward children by adults.
    If anyone should be made to go anywhere, it should be those worshipping the American swastika going back to the deep south.
    The Civil War has been over for a long time and yet rednecks have attempted to revive it for decades. Perhaps it is time that we have another Civil War and rid this nation of traitors.

  5. Jenny 2015-07-26

    Maybe he’s just older and doesn’t want to fight it anymore, but Mills (whom I have always admired and been very proud of) should have taken a stance. A “sir, do you know you’re speaking to an ex-Marine?” would have been enough, I would think, to change the clerk’s views.

    Hot-headed me would not have just stood there and not said anything. Maybe it’s because I grew up being taunted for anything and everything at my redneck SD school and have learned in my adult years to fight for justice. Maybe it’s b/c I moved to MN and have seen workers strikes firsthand. Maybe it’s because I always remember Paul Wellstone’s words and fighting spirit, but we don’t get anywhere by saying nothing and just going with the flow.

  6. jerry 2015-07-26

    Brian Jensen, the face of the republican party in South Dakota.

  7. Don Coyote 2015-07-26

    Ol’ Honest Abe was a colonizationist. Lincoln was a long time supporter of fellow Whig Henry Clay’s plan, advocated for a black colony in annual messages to Congress in 1861 and 1862, in a plan for compensated emancipation with the border states in 1862, as well as in the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862.

    In a meeting with with a delegation of free blacks, Lincoln laid out his plan for a colony of free blacks in Panama. Lincoln stated:

    “You and we are different races. We have between us a broader difference than exists between almost any other two races. Whether it is right or wrong I need not discuss, but this physical difference is a great disadvantage to us both, as I think your race suffer very greatly, many of them by living among us, while ours suffer from your presence.”

    “The place I am thinking about having for a colony is in Central America. It is nearer to us than Liberia—not much more than one-fourth as far as Liberia, and within seven days’— run by steamers. Unlike Liberia it is on a great line of travel—it is a highway. The country is a very excellent one for any people, and with great natural resources and advantages, and especially because of the similarity of climate with your native land—thus being suited to your physical condition.”

    Contrary to what is voiced by most on this blog, the North didn’t fight the Civil War to free the slaves. It remains a demonstrably false myth propagated by a tortured history. The main reason to preserve the Union was economics, to provide Northern manufacturing with accessible markets and to collect the lucrative tariffs paid by the Southern States on imported goods from England and France.

    Lincoln in a reply to an editorial by New York Tribune editor Horace Greeley calling for slaves to be freed in order to weaken the Confederacy, hardly sounds like a man burdened by the slave’s plight:

    “If there be those who would not save the Union, unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that.”

  8. mike from iowa 2015-07-26

    So Abe basically covered all bases and his arse as well. Doesn’t sound like a racist to me.

  9. leslie 2015-07-26

    Jenson a republican?*

  10. happy camper 2015-07-26

    Lawrence Diggs has written three books one on racial reconciliation. We all have to get over our bad experiences and move on.

  11. bearcreekbat 2015-07-26

    Thanks for the link Owen! I had not seen what those southern states had written about slavery and succession. Your “Live Science” clarifies that Don Coyote’s theory is premised on only half the facts. Sort of like the bullet through the scrotum myth.

  12. leslie 2015-07-26

    the custer and penington county commissions told the Indians to “move on” rejecting the peak name change. We need their seats!

    if that is truly where you are stuck at, we need to talk ….

  13. mike from iowa 2015-07-26

    HC-are you suggesting Diggs would be happier if he quit writing books? You’d know this-how?

  14. leslie 2015-07-26

    I think about you every day don, when I see the hairy poop balls the coyotes leave on the trail. nice moniker:)

  15. jerry 2015-07-26

    Don Coyote, thanks for the post proving just how racist you really are to buy into that claptrap. The North fought the war because your brethren in South Carolina fired the first shots to keep the status quo of slavery. Your Texas rewrite history books are like what so many others have tried to do since your side lost the war. You want to call it the War of Northern Aggression. What your kind hopes is that teachers will no longer be able to teach history. That would then fit in nicely with the nonsense you all peddle.
    I have always had the idea that if the hero of the North, Grant, would not have defeated the traitors on the Mississippi, the North would have had trouble keeping the northern farm states that depended on the river to transport grain like Minnesota, in the Union.

    There are plenty of places for you to go live down in Mississippi, the state where you can actually see Jim Crow practices still being utilized. Check it out, those boys down there are your kind of gentle folk I am sure.

  16. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-07-26

    Thank you, Jerry, for calling “Don” on his myth-making. The Civil War happened because the Southern states wanted to keep slaves. Abe Lincoln and the rest of the North were not pure of heart, but that does change the racist, white-supremacist meaning of the Confederate flag.

    So “Don”, keeping focused on topic here, as requested by Owen, do you agree with Brian Jenson that taking down the Confederate flag requires deporting all blacks to Africa?

  17. SDBlue 2015-07-26

    I don’t know how to change the inherent racism in our state. Maybe we could start by having our Congressional delegation stand up to the bigots. Their Facebook pages are full of people like Brian Jensen. But they can’t stand up, these are their constituents.

  18. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-07-26

    I’m surprised “Don” dared to tell his lie after Leo’s excellent historical quote. The South Carolina Articles of Secession pretty clearly refute the “not about slavery” malarkey. Thank you for getting me reading, Leo!

    Let’s hear some more, as highlighted by Ta-Nehisi Coates in the June 22 Atlantic, from Mississippi:

    Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery—the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth. These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an imperious law of nature, none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun. These products have become necessities of the world, and a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization. That blow has been long aimed at the institution, and was at the point of reaching its consummation. There was no choice left us but submission to the mandates of abolition, or a dissolution of the Union, whose principles had been subverted to work out our ruin…[“A Declaration of the Immediate Causes which Induce and Justify the Secession of the State of Mississippi from the Federal Union,” 1861].


    As a separate republic, Louisiana remembers too well the whisperings of European diplomacy for the abolition of slavery in the times of an­nexation not to be apprehensive of bolder demonstrations from the same quarter and the North in this country. The people of the slave holding States are bound together by the same necessity and determination to preserve African slavery [Louisiana Commissioner George Williamson, letter to Secession Convention of Texas, 1861.02.11].


    …the election of Mr. Lincoln cannot be regarded otherwise than a solemn declaration, on the part of a great majority of the Northern people, of hostility to the South, her property and her institutions—nothing less than an open declaration of war—for the triumph of this new theory of Government destroys the property of the South, lays waste her fields, and inaugurates all the horrors of a San Domingo servile insurrection, consigning her citizens to assassinations, and. her wives and daughters to pollution and violation, to gratify the lust of half-civilized Africans.[Alabama Secession Commissioner S.F. Hale, letter to Kentucky Governor B. McGoffin,” 1860.12.27]

    …and, the whopper, Texas:

    We hold as undeniable truths that the governments of the various States, and of the confederacy itself, were established exclusively by the white race, for themselves and their posterity; that the African race had no agency in their establishment; that they were rightfully held and regarded as an inferior and dependent race, and in that condition only could their existence in this country be rendered beneficial or tolerable.

    That in this free government all white men are and of right ought to be entitled to equal civil and political rights [emphasis in the original]; that the servitude of the African race, as existing in these States, is mutually beneficial to both bond and free, and is abundantly authorized and justified by the experience of mankind, and the revealed will of the Almighty Creator, as recognized by all Christian nations; while the destruction of the existing relations between the two races, as advocated by our sectional enemies, would bring inevitable calamities upon both and desolation upon the fifteen slave-holding states [“A Declaration of the Causes which Impel the State of Texas to Secede from the Federal Union,” 1861.02.02]

    I cannot conceive how any honest discussant can read these statements from the secessionists themselves and assert that the Civil War was not about slavery.

  19. jerry 2015-07-26

    Historical facts be damned. The truth is something that the right wing of this state and our country have no use whatsoever for. SDBlue nailed it about why our congressional delegation along with the state republican political leaders, say nothing to this racism. The loudmouths at their cracker barrels make sure that they put them in their place.

  20. Roger Cornelius 2015-07-26

    When the subject of the American swastika or Harney Peak comes up, conservative supporters will say you can’t rewrite or change history. History is rewritten or altered to fit one’s political ideology all the time. Omission of factual details are on par with attempting to rewrite history.

    Growing up in the South Dakota’s public school system we were taught that Washington and Lincoln were the greatest presidents of all time.

    It took my own independent research to learn that Washington was a slave owner who’s only concession to slavery was that he would not buy any more during his presidency.

    Ol’ Honest Abe that freed the slaves was not so honest or heroic after all, at least not in my view. Abe Lincoln was responsible for the purge of and genocide of indigenous people from their homes and hunting grounds. Some will defend Lincoln by saying he wasn’t as bad as his successor. At any rate his killing Indians and buffalo to build a railroad destroyed an entire eco-system that has effected Indian tribes to this day.

  21. Porter Lansing 2015-07-26

    When hearing “Go back to Africa” I really hear, ” I’m afraid of you. Don’t hurt me and go away.”

  22. Don Coyote 2015-07-27

    @Owen: “But Don, what are your thoughts on Mr. Jensen?”

    His remarks are just as idiotic as Lincoln’s and as are the calls for removal of the Confederate battle flag from the Gettysburg police patch, or the Orwellian attempts to scrub history of the Confederate battle flag and any or all references to the Confederacy (see Dukes of Hazzard, renaming Lake Calhoun, dynamiting Stone Mountain).

    @cah: “I cannot conceive how any honest discussant can read these statements from the secessionists themselves and assert that the Civil War was not about slavery.”

    Then obviously you’ve never studied/read historians like Charles and Mary Beard.

    “Since the abolition of slavery never appeared in the platform of any great political party, since the only appeal ever made to the electorate on that issue was scornfully repulsed, since the spokesman of the Republicans emphatically declared that his party never intended to interfere with slavery in the states in any shape or form, it seems reasonable to assume that the institution of slavery was not the fundamental issue during the epoch preceding the bombardment of Fort Sumter” – “The Rise of American Civilization”

    Eric Foner (hardly a Beardsian) of Columbia posits that the abolitionists/anti-slavery views were not dominant in the North, arguing instead that Northern opposition to slavery (including Lincoln) was fueled by a fear it might spread to the North and threaten the jobs of free whites.

    Once again we have an economic reason for war.

    Even accepting your premise that the Civil War was about slavery, then why not just let the South go? Abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison advocated for Northern secession so as to remove the free states from the Constitution’s fugitive slave clause causing the North to become a haven for runaway slaves and destroy the South’s …… economy.

    Of course Northern Black Codes before and during the War were just as (if not more so) onerous than the Jim Crow laws of the South after Reconstruction so substituting actual slavery for a virtual slavery really didn’t solve the slavery issue. Not to mention all those white laborers now competing with the influx of cheap black labor (see Eric Foner).

    Try as you might, one can not ignore the economic causes of the Civil War. It is tightly woven into the fabric of Civil War history

  23. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-07-27

    “Don”, why is it so important to you to provide cover for Jenson? Now you equate Jenson with President Lincoln? No, no, no. Abraham Lincoln was not idiotic. Lincoln was trying to preserve the Union. Jenson is spouting nonsense.

    We do not “scrub history” when we remove a flag of treason and dishonor from public display. We do not “scrub history” when we suggest that traitors do not deserve glorification in stone. The Russians didn’t “scrub history” when they knocked down the statues of Lenin. They still know about Lenin, as do we. Ditto with Nazi symbols in Germany.

    Your attempt at rewriting history ignores the primary sources that Leo pointed us toward. It’s not just my premise that the Civil War was about slavery; it was the premise of the secessionists themselves, presented above in their own public words. Are you saying the leaders of the Confederacy were lying? Yes, I can see that the South was concerned about slavery for economic reasons—they wanted to keep their slaves because they were property that was key to their economic well-being. But why can you not acknowledge that slavery was tightly woven into the fabric of Civil War history? Why make such an effort to remove slavery from the discussion? Is this really all an effort to preserve the nobility of flying the Confederate flag? Or do you think you’re just being cool by poking a stick in what you perceive as a liberal hornet’s nest?

    Your contortions ore offensive and false. Like your fake name, “Don”, you seem committed to labeling things what they are not.

  24. jerry 2015-07-27

    The economics of slavery is just one more slavery issue that is a fact. Slaves were a very valuable commodity as they still are today. That would indeed make slavery the reason for the Civil War as noted by the declarations of the traitor states when they seceded . No matter how you spin it, the direct cause of the Civil War was the slavery issue that had badgered the United States since its birth.

  25. jerry 2015-07-27

    The owning of slaves in the United States was even the blue print for the owning of slaves in Cuba. The southern states did such a remarkable job of controlling bondage with the buying and selling, that other slavers sought to do the same. Our history is blighted enough without looking at a traitor flag and thinking it is anything but that. The flag does not mean honor, it means bondage.

    Why tea party republicans particularly like the idea of slavery is that it fits into their ideas about eliminating competition. When you have cheap labor, you control markets. You will find little or no unions in the old South.

  26. jerry 2015-07-27

    The Beards were isolationists that hated Franklin D Roosevelt starting with his New Deal. You know, the one that has Social Security that as a tea party republican, Don Coyote still hates. True colors do come out though as being isolationists to World War II, Beards would have given the green light to the slave labor the Axis Powers were using at the time. No wonder Don Coyote is so proud of a reader of their gibberish. History is a funny thing sometimes and mostly not very humorous. Slavery is an evil that was acceptable in this country for far to long. Personally, I am glad that there was a war to end slavery, but saddened that today, some feel black lives do not matter. Maybe Jenson and the Don should go to countries that look the other way regarding slavery. There could be a place for them in the Mid or Far East and then get back to us on how they like that sort of thing.

  27. jerry 2015-07-27

    Why did the North become a haven for runaway slaves if it did not care about their plight? Your argument does not pass the smell test when it comes to the question of slavery not being the cause of the civil war. Remember, South Carolina fired on the flag to start the war of traitor aggression in Charleston Harbor.

  28. Porter Lansing 2015-07-27

    Mr. Coyotee ~ Your argument is self-protection. What are you afraid of, sir?
    In its justification of secession (and TX hasn’t progressed very far since), Texas sums up its view of a union built upon slavery: “We hold as undeniable truths that the governments of the various States, and of the confederacy itself, were established exclusively by the white race, for themselves and their posterity; that the African race had no agency in their establishment; that they were rightfully held and regarded as an inferior and dependent race, and in that condition only could their existence in this country be rendered beneficial or tolerable.”
    The myth that the war was not about slavery seems to be a self-protective one for many people, said Stan Deaton, the senior historian at the Georgia Historical Society.

  29. happy camper 2015-07-27

    Many people draw conclusions without evidence. No no no. No no no.

  30. Deb Geelsdottir 2015-07-27

    There is simply nothing of redeemable value in Jensen’s words, nor in the inappropriately pseudonymed Happy Camper.

  31. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-07-27

    Happy Camper! I’m glad you found Mr. Diggs’s videos. South Dakota could stand to hear more of his thoughts.

    I especially like the opening of the first video Hap shares with us, in which Mr. Diggs refers to Roslyn as “the center of the known universe.” In that first video, he also tells an interesting story of how he came to town, was recognized as the most “different” man in town, put his talents to work to create something wildly different, the vinegar museum, and found his difference and creativity embraced by the locals.

  32. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-07-27

    Deb, I do agree that Hap’s recommendation that we “get over our bad experiences and move on” is not an effective recipe for confronting historic racial injustice. But his sharing of Mr. Diggs’s videos here adds wonderful context to this discussion. Brian Jenson should watch those videos and see if he would still tell Mr. Diggs to go back to Africa.

  33. leslie 2015-07-27

    should we also acknowledge the second amendment was all about slavery too?

  34. happy camper 2015-07-28

    I want to point out that Diggs, who is looking for racial reconciliation actually says there is no race: it’s just an illusion. I think we can be open to other human beings without religious and ethnic differences getting in the way. But even small-town Ramona once had both a German and Norwegian Lutheran Church. Probably much to do with language but you remember in the early days these ethnic groups formed gangs. A lot has changed in 50 or 60 years time and still changing right now although we don’t see it as much in our state which has a more leisurely and suspicious attitude toward change.

  35. happy camper 2015-07-29

    A gay Native I know is attracted mainly to white men. His Native friends poke at him saying he is discriminatory against his own race. It’s something we laughed about but he can’t really explain it away to his own satisfaction.

  36. jerry 2015-07-29

    Geesh, does your native friend wave a traitor flag? Where does the Native friend go back to? What exactly is home to a Native, are ya gonna send them all back to America?

  37. happy camper 2015-07-29

    Where we are born is not something we can take responsibility for but he’s kind of a country bumpkin who got thrown in to Pine Ridge at a bad time. He will never go back to the reservation to live and doesn’t want to even cross it when traveling the state.

  38. Porter Lansing 2015-07-29

    @HappyCamper … Please explain why you’re attracted to women and not bisexuals. And, why you think a gay man should have to explain who he’s attracted to.

  39. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-07-29

    Happy, Diggs may be on the right track to contend that there is no “race”… or perhaps more accurately that “race” is a social construct, not a normative biological fact. But can the minority race afford to take the position that there is no such thing as race if the majority race continues to engage in and gain privilege from policies, behaviors, and customs that treat light-skinned and dark-skinned people differently? Can we effectively protect people who are being harmed by racism if we do not for now recognize that racists target people based on their social construct of race?

    (Feel free to nuke me for any lack of clarity in those questions. ;-) )

  40. jerry 2015-07-29

    I guess happy camper forgot what this post was all about and wants to turn it into some kind of LGBT thing rather than the racist post it stated at. They are really to different things, but they are both counter productive to a civil society.

  41. Rorschach 2015-07-29

    One person ought to go back to Africa. Walter Palmer, DDS. Where do I contribute to a one-way ticket to Zimbabwe for that guy?

  42. mike from iowa 2015-07-29

    HC-after 150 years the antebellum South hasn’t changed all that much.

  43. happy camper 2015-07-29

    Race is only important if we buy in to it which you seem to agree, but by your talking about race, you are defining it and saying it’s important. You’re defining for yourself but the language helps perpetuate. Will you teach your child about race? Then you would be acknowledging there is such a thing. If you don’t believe in race and racism then quit talking about it all the time!!! I may go nuclear.

  44. 96Tears 2015-07-29

    I strongly recommend everyone in this discussion read Doris Kearn’s “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln.” Also, it would be worthwhile to also read Shelby Foote’s trilogy history of the Civil War. Voice and perspective are important in learning what happened and why it happened and how it happened. It’s easy for us in the 21st century to make judgments based on our current values. Hell, go to You Tube and watch hearings and news discussions about race riots, the civil rights movement and equal rights. This nation has come a very long way from only 1960 and 1970.

    The values on race, religion and society have changed radically in all kinds of directions since 1860. In the South, you will still find white people stuck in the notion that their land was invaded by an occupation army and their families’ lives and properties ransacked by carpetbaggers (whether or not that really happened to their families). And before somebody pounces on me, I’m not taking sides, I’m saying these are the cards that were dealt.

    I don’t think Mr. Coyote is acting like a racist. He is correct about Lincoln who was handling political nitroglycerin as President. Lincoln had to find allies anywhere he could to advance the nation out of its political, economic and social quagmire, and he understandably could not have possessed insight to how Reconstruction was going to shake out. How could he until the dust settled? His assassination became the reset button on the evolution of a badly fractured nation after Appomattox. It’s useless to guess how Reconstruction would have happened had Booth failed. It’s incorrect to think that all the bigots lived in the South during the war. New York was a hot button of racism.

    Having said all that, I can’t imagine the perspective of Mr. Diggs or any other adult African American. Has our nation graduated from Bull Connor and the attack dogs and fire hoses used against peaceful demonstrators for human equality? After sustaining the terrorism they’ve lived with since the Civil War, their skepticism is very understandable.

    For a while, it looked like this nation was moving forward until the ugly secret of ongoing police suppression of blacks became more and more and more public. The terrorism of white people against black people (and Indians) continues, but went underground until our nation elected a black man as President and the ugly Tea Party hotwired anti-black hatred to fuel the fire for the GOP base. Spiritually, I don’t think white America truly graduated from the Civil War.

  45. happy camper 2015-07-29

    The difference 96 is that Diggs has let go of the typical American concept of race after traveling the world, but you’re still holding on to it. There’s just one race the human race so to continue to talk about different races makes you the racist, the creator of it by your belief in it. It’s really that simple. If you want to criminalize behavior to answer Cory’s question have good laws as we do to include hate crimes. There are no differences in races. Better to not propagate that fallacy in any way.

  46. happy camper 2015-07-29

    The problem is some people still want to be recognized as a member of some particular race for their own reasons. I wonder how many Mr. Diggs are out there?

  47. Roger Cornelius 2015-07-29

    Happy’s theory that there is just one race is a position adapted by the far right for sometime now, it is not new.

    The idea that there is only one is what I call the new racism, by accepting that position you are free to have racial prejudices and discrimination and not be responsible for your words and actions. How could anybody be racists if we are all one race, pretty nifty excuse if you ask me.
    As an Indian, when I call someone out over their racist words or actions I’m often confronted with, “you are the racist for calling me a racist”. If you can figure that out, good for you.
    We can close our eyes and have an illusion that races don’t exist because we are all one people, that would be nice but it isn’t even close to reality.
    Mr. Diggs maybe content with the niche he carved out for himself in Ramona, but I have lived in western South Dakota most of my life and have witnessed what one race can do to another.

  48. happy camper 2015-07-30

    Oh my does this sound like a Republican?: One Race Human is an organization dedicated to the improvement of race and gender relations. More than a weak-kneed stance against hate and discrimination, One Race Human is firmly founded on the philosophy that neither attitude nor behavior are determined by race or gender. It is socialization that shapes us – nothing is inherent.

    If we don’t believe in race, then there can’t be racial crimes, just crimes. If were to hit you and call you a dirty so and so, that’s still a crime. This is part of that Repub sounding stuff.

    Roger wondered where we would send Native Americans back to? They walked to Alaska and on down when the waters were frozen. So they left one race and became a new race? No. They remained part of the same race.

    “From the American Anthropological Association Statement on “Race” (May 17, 1998) In the United States both scholars and the general public have been conditioned to viewing human races as natural and separate divisions within the human species based on visible physical differences. With the vast expansion of scientific knowledge in this century, however, it has become clear that human populations are not unambiguous, clearly demarcated, biologically distinct groups. Evidence from the analysis of genetics (e.g., DNA) indicates that most physical variation, about 94%, lies within so-called racial groups. Conventional geographic “racial” groupings differ from one another only in about 6% of their genes. This means that there is greater variation within “racial” groups than between them. In neighboring populations there is much overlapping of genes and their phenotypic (physical) expressions. Throughout history whenever different groups have come into contact, they have interbred. The continued sharing of genetic materials has maintained all of humankind as a single species.”

    It’s 2015 now. That statement was made 17 years ago, but the old language has remained in the conversation. There’s no such thing as race it does not exist. It is a category you are putting there. The people who study man say it does not exist.

    So why do you want to keep that going would be my question.

  49. happy camper 2015-07-30

    Sometimes I feel like I’m livin with my grandpa out in the country. Comes to town once every 15 years. Nothin much has changed. Except the real world has changed. It’s not 1974 a bad year all around. Ford was making the Pinto.

  50. jerry 2015-07-30

    @Roger, I think you nailed it with this gem “The idea that there is only one is what I call the new racism, by accepting that position you are free to have racial prejudices and discrimination and not be responsible for your words and actions. How could anybody be racists if we are all one race, pretty nifty excuse if you ask me.”

    That fits nicely into the Christian idea of how they can now look down at their colored brothers and sisters, to call them the low end of the family tree. This way they can recognize the needed body parts they may need to utilize like blood, kidneys, lungs and stuff like that, while discriminating against them economically and socially.

    Speaking of republicans and Lincoln, do you find it interesting that they now want to allow guns in theaters? I think irony, but then I think right wing republicans for my laugh line. These people cannot govern, evah…

  51. Bill Fleming 2015-07-30

    Happy C., that’s because people (including scientists) are sometimes talking past each other (semantically speaking). What some people call “race” others call “ethnicity.” And to deny that there is prejudice among and between ethnic groups would be an exercise in delusional thinking, wouldn’t you agree?

  52. happy camper 2015-07-30

    I think BF there is a distinction more than just nuance. The interesting part of their statement is “there is greater variation within ‘racial’ groups than between them.” They are talking genetics but still it’s amazing to think that genetically people in the group might be more like people outside of the group. So then to say they’re different is just not plausible other than to talk about ethnicity and much of that behavior. If it’s not genetics tied to race then differences are simply cultural. Learned.

  53. Bill Fleming 2015-07-30

    Yes, it’s academically interesting perhaps, HC but you’re not really addressing the question/concern. It appears to some of us that you might be trying to minimize the reality of extreme prejudice in society and the negative effect it has on certain, easily identifiable population segments, especially as it pertains to ethnicity. (I won’t go into “class prejudice” — at least right now, but that’s certainly another front where some of our fellow homo sapien brothers and sisters are in severe state of denial ;-)

  54. Deb Geelsdottir 2015-07-30

    I agree with HC about the word “race.” (Yes, I agree with Happy.) But as Bill said, that’s only about the language, the term, not life as it is lived.

    “Race” is simply a substitute catchall for “skin color, ethnicity, facial structure, hair type” and other descriptive guidelines. There is only one biological human race. And discrimination based on evolutionary differences is a very real thing.

    Human beings are excessively tribal, a characteristic I think is terribly detrimental to the success of the human race. We tend to search out and gather with people who are more like us, rather than different.

    My guesstimate is that perhaps 20% of American humans are not adventurous at all. They are fearful of differences and change, and so very tribal. That also equals being very prejudiced against other members of the human race who are not physically quite similar to them.

    These are things I’m thinking about based on my experiences, reading, thoughts, listening, etc. As someone mentioned earlier, it’s not only physical differences that the fearful humans latch onto, but also class, religion, gender, sexual orientation, and nearly anything else to create an “Us v. Them” binary environment.

  55. Deb Geelsdottir 2015-07-30

    Let me add, it’s not the word “race”, that is the problem. Focusing there is simply a distraction of no merit.

  56. happy camper 2015-07-30

    Well, my little brain gets tired, but I’m not trying to minimize the repercussions of bad acts. I just don’t think it makes sense to call them racial when race does not exist. There are bad things that humans do to one another, so if it’s a punch in the face is that punch worse because I called you a bad name along with it? Then break down the two offenses. The social crime is trying to marginalize people by saying they are a difference race. You’re less than me is the message along with the bruised face. You’re different from me in your eyes (not mine), maybe better or worse, because you believe in something that doesn’t exist. That sounds unhealthy to me. And so it’s unhealthy to confirm in the legal system and with one another that that system is valid. It hasn’t been since 1998 according to those who study Man. Yeah culturally we do different things, but so what. You’re human just like everybody.

  57. happy camper 2015-07-30

    It’s been a long slog toward any sort of credibility around these parts. They gave Diggs a pickup. Even he couldn’t believe it.

  58. Roger Cornelius 2015-07-30

    If I recall correctly, the first time I heard the “we are all one race” theme was when the religious right wing was arguing that the Holocaust never happened, there appeal was that Christians would never do this to each other.
    Well, the Holocaust did happen just as slavery happened to the blacks and genocide against Indians. These horrific events and more in our history were all based on racial hatred whether you believe in one race or not. They happened and cannot be taken back because of a one race theory. If these horrendous actions weren’t about racial hatred and white purity, what were they about?
    In today’s world we have mass killings because some kid goes to a church and says, “I came here to kill black people”. Note that he did not say “kill people” he said “kill black people”. Tell me how one the one race theory fits in here.
    Happy Camper may live in a ideological perfect world where there is no racism, sexism, prejudice and discrimination, but the rest of us need to do nothing more than turn on the cable news and see unarmed black men being slaughtered by the police that were sworn to protect them, again, tell me where the theory of one race absent of hate comes in.

  59. Bill Fleming 2015-07-30

    Okay, Happy Camp, so how do you think you would have fared with that logic trying to end apartheid in South Africa a few years back, or trying to end ethnic cleansing in Bosnia or Rwanda? Doesn’t seem like it serves the cause to try to pretend that a problem that’s obviously, structurally — as in part of the “law of the land” — there really isn’t.

    In other words, if the law says black people and Indians can’t vote or marry white people, that’s a problem whether you think there is no such thing as “race” or not. The word “race” isn’t the problem, the idea of discrimination and ethnic privilege is.

    It’s called “structural racism” as opposed to the type of “biological” racism you’re talking about.

    And while it’s true that the latter doesn’t “scientifically” exist and never has* (according to biologists), the former most certainly does and always has (according to some political systems), wouldn’t you agree?

    *Actually, there have been, in the past, other hominid species. Science tells us that there was a time on our planet where there were perhaps as many as five different types of “humans” existing simultaneously, oftentimes in overlapping environments.

  60. happy camper 2015-07-30

    I don’t disagree with your frustrations but I see it through a different lens. I am asking you to imagine how you would interact with people who might appear very different from you. When overseas there might be a room with people that could not talk to one another. So your communication had to be entirely non verbal no translators. You learn you are the same.

  61. Bill Fleming 2015-07-30

    Roger, let’s just say it wouldn’t be the first time human beings have believed so much in something…something that doesn’t really (scientifically) exist that they are willing to kill (and otherwise abuse) their fellow human beings for the sake of it. History is rife with a plethora of such circumstances.

  62. Bill Fleming 2015-07-30

    Happy Camper, in the cosmic sense yes, we are at one with sponges and galaxies in the same way, but sadly, that’s not what Roger and I are talking about. We’re talking about the fact that some collections of stardust (aka products of the universe via evolution) think that they are somehow more equal and naturally deserving than other collections of stardust. :-)

  63. bearcreekbat 2015-07-30

    Bill, consider Deb’s comment that “Human beings are excessively tribal, a characteristic I think is terribly detrimental to the success of the human race. . . .” This almost sounds like a Jung/Stevens archetype, wouldn’t you say? And if it is, perhaps we are all hard wired to become tribal despite our biological similarities – or perhaps because of our biological similarities?

  64. happy camper 2015-07-30

    We’re talking about the same thing but I’m saying it’s not true. There are no differences. There is no such thing as race, no distinctions in people unless you give it credence.

  65. Bill Fleming 2015-07-30

    BCB, yes, it’s true. Both Jung and Stevens touch on it. Jared Diamond (the biologist) also makes the same point in his book “The Third Chimpanzee.” There appear to be some undesirable qualities “hardwired” into our species that we have yet to evolve out of. He includes among these: tendencies toward xenophobia (fear of “the other”); genocide; and a propensity for becoming addicted to certain substances.

  66. Bill Fleming 2015-07-30

    Happy, I hear you on that. If we all refused to give it credence, we might ALL be “Happy Campers.” So how do we do that? How do we convince people who believe they are superior to others that they in fact are not? How do we convince people who are afraid of one another that there is no reason to be?

  67. happy camper 2015-07-30

    If you keep an open mind you will keep learning. They’ll get there. Believe in your fellow man. Don’t be against them.

  68. happy camper 2015-07-30

    Almost forgot Republicans are your fellow Man. Don’t throw them away.

  69. Roger Cornelius 2015-07-30

    Who’s the “they” that gave Diggs a pickup, Happy Camper?

  70. Bill Fleming 2015-07-30

    ISIL members are our “fellow man” too HC.

    Tell us what you think about Gandhi’s letter to Adolph Hitler. Is this what you have in mind?


    That I address you as a friend is no formality. I own no foes. My business in life has been for the past 33 years to enlist the friendship of the whole of humanity by befriending mankind, irrespective of race, colour or creed.

    I hope you will have the time and desire to know how a good portion of humanity who have view living under the influence of that doctrine of universal friendship view your action. We have no doubt about your bravery or devotion to your fatherland, nor do we believe that you are the monster described by your opponents. But your own writings and pronouncements and those of your friends and admirers leave no room for doubt that many of your acts are monstrous and unbecoming of human dignity, especially in the estimation of men like me who believe in universal friendliness. Such are your humiliation of Czechoslovakia, the rape of Poland and the swallowing of Denmark. I am aware that your view of life regards such spoliations as virtuous acts. But we have been taught from childhood to regard them as acts degrading humanity. Hence we cannot possibly wish success to your arms.
    But ours is a unique position. We resist British Imperialism no less than Nazism. If there is a difference, it is in degree. One-fifth of the human race has been brought under the British heel by means that will not bear scrutiny. Our resistance to it does not mean harm to the British people. We seek to convert them, not to defeat them on the battle-field. Ours is an unarmed revolt against the British rule. But whether we convert them or not, we are determined to make their rule impossible by non-violent non-co-operation. It is a method in its nature indefensible. It is based on the knowledge that no spoliator can compass his end without a certain degree of co-operation, willing or compulsory, of the victim. Our rulers may have our land and bodies but not our souls. They can have the former only by complete destruction of every Indian—man, woman and child. That all may not rise to that degree of heroism and that a fair amount of frightfulness can bend the back of revolt is true but the argument would be beside the point. For, if a fair number of men and women be found in India who would be prepared without any ill will against the spoliators to lay down their lives rather than bend the knee to them, they would have shown the way to freedom from the tyranny of violence. I ask you to believe me when I say that you will find an unexpected number of such men and women in India. They have been having that training for the past 20 years.

    We have been trying for the past half a century to throw off the British rule. The movement of independence has been never so strong as now. The most powerful political organization, I mean the Indian National Congress, is trying to achieve this end. We have attained a very fair measure of success through non-violent effort. We were groping for the right means to combat the most organized violence in the world which the British power represents. You have challenged it. It remains to be seen which is the better organized, the German or the British. We know what the British heel means for us and the non-European races of the world. But we would never wish to end the British rule with German aid. We have found in non-violence a force which, if organized, can without doubt match itself against a combination of all the most violent forces in the world. In non-violent technique, as I have said, there is no such thing as defeat. It is all ‘do or die’ without killing or hurting. It can be used practically without money and obviously without the aid of science of destruction which you have brought to such perfection. It is a marvel to me that you do not see that it is nobody’s monopoly. If not the British, some other power will certainly improve upon your method and beat you with your own weapon. You are leaving no legacy to your people of which they would feel proud. They cannot take pride in a recital of cruel deed, however skilfully planned. I, therefore, appeal to you in the name of humanity to stop the war. You will lose nothing by referring all the matters of dispute between you and Great Britain to an international tribunal of your joint choice. If you attain success in the war, it will not prove that you were in the right. It will only prove that your power of destruction was greater. Whereas an award by an impartial tribunal will show as far as it is humanly possible which party was in the right.

    You know that not long ago I made an appeal to every Briton to accept my method of non-violent resistance. I did it because the British know me as a friend though a rebel. I am a stranger to you and your people. I have not the courage to make you the appeal I made to every Briton. Not that it would not apply to you with the same force as to the British. But my present proposal is much simple because much more practical and familiar.

    During this season when the hearts of the peoples of Europe yearn for peace, we have suspended even our own peaceful struggle. Is it too much to ask you to make an effort for peace during a time which may mean nothing to you personally but which must mean much to the millions of Europeans whose dumb cry for peace I hear, for my ears are attended to hearing the dumb millions? I had intended to address a joint appeal to you and Signor Mussolini, whom I had the privilege of meeting when I was in Rome during my visit to England as a delegate to the Round Table Conference. I hope that he will take this as addressed to him also with the necessary changes.

    I am,

    Your sincere friend,

    M. K. GANDHI

  71. Roger Cornelius 2015-07-30

    Almost forgot, Democrats are your fellow Man. Don’t hate us.

  72. happy camper 2015-07-30

    In the video it’s a touching moment when Diggs recounts the neighbor asking if he will be moving in, Diggs thinking that person sees him negatively because of his blackness, when in fact the neighbor said he could use his truck to remove the junkie items the prior owners left. Diggs couldn’t believe this guy since they had never met and didn’t even know his name was offering the use of his truck at no cost. Small town way of doing things.

  73. happy camper 2015-07-30

    If we share so much DNA how can we really dislike another? Apparently we can’t since there has always been the mixing of people. We all learn new cultures.

  74. jerry 2015-07-30

    Man, you must be high happy camper. Indeed, how can we dislike one another? Next thing, you will get around to asking us to support your candidate, The Donald because we share the same DNA. Touching for sure. I guess it is something you are just born with, correct?

  75. mike from iowa 2015-07-30

    I’d bet Adolf read the letter and as a reply went out and kicked a puppy. Now that I think back on it,Gandhilooked like a survivor of a concentration camp-no offense.

  76. happy camper 2015-07-30

    Cory did agree “race” is just a social construct although he is not taking my position. I hoped he was gonna agree with me and even offer some support.
    He has high level communication skills that guy.

    Truth is I think many people might agree we are just one race. If you accept that, then you can’t divide it up more by race. End of story.

  77. happy camper 2015-07-30

    FYI: Social construct: a social mechanism, phenomenon, or category created and developed by society; a perception of an individual, group, or idea that is ‘constructed’ through cultural or social practice.

    There was a good Star Trek episode where two guys were traveling through space trying to kill each other. When placed together they were disgusted by the sight of one another.

    They looked the same, but one guy was black on the left side of his body and white the right, the other guy vice versa. There’s just one race peeps.

  78. leslie 2015-07-30

    happycamper FYI: “Social construction of race=Conservative goldmine” j. antrosio, 2013 living

    antrosio says: ask how race works rather than what race is.

    i say: happy camper, get it out of the ditch!

  79. Roger Cornelius 2015-07-30

    Hey brother Bill, the Gandhi letter was an extraordinary find and perfect for this thread, congratulations. Hopefully Happy Camper will read it and comprehend it in its entirety with race on his mind as he reads it.
    Happy seems to think that his proclamation of we are one race is the final word, hardly.
    I will remind everyone of my earlier opinion that conservatives use this argument to justify their hate and dirty actions towards minorities and women
    It is the new racism, Happy, it is time to accept some reality and truths.

  80. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-07-31

    Sorry to leave you hanging, Hap! I agree with your words, but not enough to jump in full-thorated on your side.

    Thanks for mentioning that Star Trek episode—”Let That Be Your Last Battlefield.” An entire planet destroyed itself in war over a quirk of pigmentation. All the logic and morality that the Enterprise crew could muster could not stop the last two survivors from continuing their crusade of genocide.

    Genocide—interesting word in the context Hap offers. Genocide—the extermination of a “race” of people. Even if I adopt Hap’s definition of race, even if I use his words loosely and say race doesn’t exist, genocide still does: it becomes “the extermination of a group of people defined by some trivial distinction by puddingheads who don’t get or give a darn about biology.” We’ve still got to whip the puddingheads, make laws to prevent puddingheads from inciting others to vile action, and educate or kids to eradicate puddingheadedness.

    (It’s not really pudding, Hap whispers in my ear. I know, I whisper back, but just work with me!)

    Bill F. carries good water saying that there’s a difference between biological and structural race and that the discussion of biological race may be academically interesting but not politically useful. We need to eradicate mistaken concepts, so sure, let’s carefully promote the idea that we’re all human, and that distinctions of race and ethnicity do not determine our human worth. But while we await that glorious day when racism and ethnocentrism have been knocked from every noggin, we must recognize that those mistaken concepts have shaped and continue to shape social realities to which we must respond with just and effective policies.

  81. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-07-31

    [And Bill cites Gandhi! “…the British know me as a friend though a rebel.” Friend though a rebel—could Lincoln and Davis, Grant and Lee, have viewed each other that way? Gandhi’s phrase captures the spirit in which I’d like South Dakotans of opposed opinions to conduct their discourse.]

  82. happy camper 2015-07-31

    It’s funny to hear a conversation about equality called right wing talk. The Right Wing does not like people to see themselves as Citizens of the World, but whatever cause I received a reluctant win from the Blog Master. I suspect those who travel extensively most likely come to share Diggs perceptive. They see all the commonalities over time rather than superficial differences as might a tourist. We’re all equal no one better or less because of our DNA or genetic makeup. We are gonna continue to become more global so probably people will just start to shed antiquated notions of race. We grew up learning about Mongoloids and were taught the labels of race but young people are eager to shed ignorant views. They’re light years ahead of us some of these kids. Gay marriage in South Dakota never thought I would see it in my lifetime.

  83. happy camper 2015-08-01

    “Science is not an exercise in nostalgia: when a term progresses from being burnished by long use to being made obsolete by increasing knowledge,it needs to be discarded. The concept of biological race in anthropology is at that point.”

    The concept of race in anthropology

    This is a pretty long article but obviously Anthropology has some explaining to do as to why they used to see and study Man as subspecies but now don’t.

    We are the same and equal. Outside of that about everything is learned/cultural. Sure, there are some biological differences in established human groups. Like lactose intolerance is common in the group of people who first came to North America that we call Native Americans. But I do think we should challenge our own use of language. If Cory agrees there is only one race as I believe he did earlier, then he can’t keep using sub racial words which enforce something that does not exist. He’s too dang logical to do that. Native Americans are not a race other than being Human.

    While in a London Pub in my twenties I heard the most British sounding guy behind me. We’d been in country long enough our ears were at least somewhat accustomed, but he sounded so extraordinary British I had to turn wanting and expecting to see a real authentic British guy: but he was Asian. I mean he looked like the people from Asia.

  84. jerry 2015-08-01

    You should really read what you write about nostalgia as that is where your whole argument goes. The facts are stubborn things and when you look at the cave findings along with other digs in Spain around Burgos, you begin to see why DNA is so incomplete to date. There are traces that show that another branch was involved. If DNA were one race, then it would be an easy task to find cure all medicines for all that ails this one race. What makes humans superior at present is the fact that we are not one race but a combination of many and with the many, more DNA existence.

  85. happy camper 2015-08-01

    Sociologists define race as a concept that is used to signify different types of human bodies. While there is no biological basis for racial classification, sociologists recognize a long history of attempts to organize groups of people based on similar skin color and physical appearance. The absence of any biological foundation makes race often difficult to define and classify, and as such, sociologists view racial categories and the significance of race in society as unstable, ever shifting, and intimately connected to other social forces and structures.

    Sociologists emphasize though, that while race is not a concrete, fixed thing that is essential to human bodies, it is much more than simply an illusion. While it is socially constructed through human interaction, and through relationships between people and institutions, as a social force, race is very real in its consequences.

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