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February 21, 2019

Mr. Smith and his Letters

Harry M. Covert

As “white privilege” descended speedily from heavenly climes Wednesday, I dared not attempt to test fate and maneuver on the icy streets.


The entitlement described here refers to the beautiful white snow that barraged all of Frederick County, Maryland.


Of late, amidst all the angst strewn about inflaming the nation with angry adjectives and disgusting conduct, such puerile entitlement talk especially on the leftwing broadcast entities, is completely out of line.


The “privilege” bombardment is wrong and unacceptable to fair minded people. For shame too many young people, and others who know better, have fallen prey to such bleatings. Honestly, it is heartbreaking. 


Until the mid-1960s the nation’s newspapers referred to Black Americans as Negroes in all sorts of news stories whether police, court, schools and otherwise.


Most reporters and editors of those past days had no choice in the matter. It was part of the newspaper stylebook.


In my snooping around for hot stories, and I found my share, I made many contacts. One of them was a young Hampton, Virginia, attorney, a rising civil rights activist whose name I have always remembered and respected.


William Alfred Smith, a black attorney, would ask why we had to use separate racial identities. At the time I only knew what the stylebook required. I was learning my way, feeling I had “died and gone to heaven,” always looking for The Big Story.


Mr. Smith was starting his way, too. Before long he started an epistolary campaign – letter writing.


This was before email, or such a thing as the Internet. Snail mail was five cents first class.


Mr. Smith addressed his missives to me this way:

Harry Covert, a Caucasian.

c/o the newspaper. Clever.


The first one to arrive brought some laughs from colleagues. As others came someone circled the address in red. I passed them on to higher editors.


These envelopes began to receive attention. It wasn’t too long before state and national press associations deleted the description in daily and weekly publications.


The point I’m making, it took years to remove inconsiderate identities from newspaper columns. Now, the reverse has reared its ugly head, especially on teevee, radio, Internet and podcasts.


A new day of ugly spoken racism has become prominent. The clamor to promote white privilege is totally and recklessly racist. Those promoting it are the ones who are bigoted and prejudiced. Their thought is to make irresponsible accusations hoping to get even.


Their conduct creates more prejudice.


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The Covert Letter

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