Sunday, July 20, 2014


My name is Andy D. Smith, a good old American name, and why not, my family has lived in Southern Mississippi for over five generations.

I am named for a forebearer who led our family’s immigration to America. He was Anders deGroot Schmitt, of Dutch extraction, a Boer who lived in what is now South Africa. Liking America, he Anglicized our name.

When the British won the Boer Wars, we had no desire to live under their occupation, and especially under their religious beliefs, that of the Church of England. We were of the Dutch Reform faith, even a conservative branch of that conservative faith. It preached “the white man’s burden” if you will…that we had an obligation of charity towards them but not one of equality. Our theology and our preachers constantly reminded us the black man was not our equal. Since England had abolished slavery early in the 19th century we knew it was but a matter of time before our beliefs and English law would conflict.

We, my ancestors, set about finding a new land. They had read many of the tracts and speeches of your Southern preachers, of several denominations, who held as we did on this matter of so-called  equality…even after your Civil War.  Anders..Andy..led several families to Southern Mississippi around the turn of the 19th century and we settled in 3 small towns there. More families came later as we established farms, and then stores to sell our produce, and later general supplies and other items.

Our farms and  stores are all ”closely held.”  Only family members may hold stock in them, no stock may be sold or transfer to an outsider and all transactions must be approved by an extraordinary majority of family members. Those who marry into our families are required to sign documents agreeing to these terms.

We are small, a half dozen general stores, in a rural area of Mississippi, which may explain why your dept. of Justice didn’t discover us until a few years ago. They charged us with discrimination and violation of the Civil Rights act because all our store staffs are white. (Black customers are most welcome, but we do not employ them on our farms or in our stores..all work is done by family members and our children learn that “menial” chores led to better things in time.)

We have filed a brief under the so-called “Hobby Lobby” decision asking the DOJ charges be dismissed. It could hardly be clearer..we are closely held as a business, and our deeply held religious beliefs forbid hiring blacks or having anything but the merest social contact with them.

Your logic in “Hobby Lobby” is clear. You must allow us to continue as an all-white business.

I'm just sayin'...

Monday, July 14, 2014


Today, Monday July 14 is Bastille Day in France..their Independence Day when the people rose and stormed the bastille…the Paris  jail of that day(really a fort which symbolized the oppression of the government then.)

The Bastille fell and France was free and least for a while.

We triggered Bastille Day…We being America and our own Revolution of 1776. And we were lucky. The colonies escaped the bloody repressions that followed in so many countries that revolted against royal and dictatorial governments. France was free after the bastille fell..but only for a short time. Dictators followed (Napoleons 1,2,&3 among them..and the guillotine..but in the end France, too, was free..and marks that day of the original revolt each July 14.

I celebrate it too. In many ways France is my second home. I have visited there a half dozen times, thanks to Lexington’s Sister Cities program. (An international citizen to citizen program started by Pres. Eisenhower which works thru “twining” our case Lexington and Deauville, France.)

America owes much to France..and I mean a lot more than culture, art, wine, fashion, food..we owe our existence. I have heard all the jokes about..”For Sale, One French army rifle, dropped only once.” But the truth is if the French Navy had not prevented the English fleet from reinforcing or  relieving Cornwallis at Yorktown a bloody battle would have ensued. As it was, caught between Washington’s army and the French fleet, Gen. Cornwallis did the correct thing, militarily, and surrendered. America won; Vive La France!

And then there’s the Statute of Liberty.”.the greatest gift one nation ever gave another.” 

A recent book, “Liberty’s Torch” proves this was more the work of one man, the French sculptor Bartholdi, whose vision, artistry, and determination, kept both nations at it until the deed was done and Miss Liberty stood proudly in New York harbor.

I have teared up coming home from abroad seeing her..and what she represents here—to America.
This day, Bastille Day, she stands as the symbol of France..the symbol of Liberty, proclaimed to the world by our two nations, and our hope for abiding friendship between our two peoples.

I'm just sayin'... 

Monday, July 7, 2014


When composer/conductor John Williams opened last Friday’s broadcast of “A Capitol Fourth” on NPR and WUKY-FM, he offered his “new arrangement” of our national anthem, the “Star Spangled Banner.”

In that spirit I’d like to offer my own arrangement---get rid of it.

First, as written, the “Banner” is UNsingable by 90% of Americans. Those high notes, much too high notes (Williams reworked them into a lower key I think) are just too, too much. We either mumble through them, or pass altogether while the counter-tenors and altos have a field day. What good is a national anthem that citizens can’t sing? It’s supposed to rally us, not cause us to cringe as those near us try to sing it.

Second, it’s music is an old tavern drinking old ENGLISH drinking song. That’s right, good old F. S. Key penned his poem of defiance to Great Britain and then used a Brit song for his music.  Lotta sense there.

Third, it celebrates just one event in America’s long and storied history..the battle of Fort McHenry in 1814…(part of the War of 1812 most historians would like the US to forget, ‘cause we lost it. Our history books pass over how the Brits burned Washington---we lost our National Capital in this war and we want to observe it in song?

Fourth, if this music deserves to be our National Anthem why did it take until 1931 for Congress to pass a resolution making it so???  118 years we had no such anthem, while using “Hail Columbia” and “My Country Tis of Thee” (a much worthier song) and others as stand-ins for a National Anthem.

Congress got it wrong in ’31…no surprise surely..but now that Mr. Williams has suggested a “new arrangement”, why not start all over..find a better song, at least one that most of us can sing…before we shout “Play Ball.”

I'm just sayin'...NOPE...not singin'...