Sunday, April 05, 2009

Is this regret?

When I pulled up yahoo’s website this morning, I saw this tagline: Racist makes public apology. I clicked on the link mainly because I was curious, wondering what sort of apology a racist man could make. I will admit I am skeptical when someone begins repenting their sins, especially when you find out they’re dying. One has to wonder if they are truly sorry or do they think the only way they can get into heaven is to apologize. After reading the article, I’m convinced it is the latter for Mr. Elwin Hope Wilson.

Now 72 and ailing, his body swollen by diabetes, his eyes degenerating, Wilson is spending as many hours pondering his past as he is his mortality.
Sure most of the bad deeds he did were when he was younger, but they were filled with such venomous hate, how does one turn that off? He beat a young 21-year old black man because he got off the Freedom Rider’s bus and attempted to step foot in the White’s Only waiting room. Mr. Wilson was not provoked verbally or physically, yet he chose to allow his fist to meet with that young man’s face 45 years ago.
The former Ku Klux Klan supporter says he wants to atone for the cross burnings on Hollis Lake Road. He wants to apologize for hanging a black doll in a noose at the end of his drive, for flinging cantaloupes at black men walking down Main Street, for hurling a jack handle at the black kid jiggling the soda machine in his father's service station, for brutally beating a 21-year-old seminary student at the bus station in 1961.
I just don’t buy it. Not when you read things like the above paragraph and the one that follows:
"All I can say is that it has bothered me for years, all the bad stuff I've done," Wilson says, speaking slowly and deliberately. "And I found out there is no way I could be saved and get to heaven and still not like blacks."
This sounds a lot like someone trying to buy their way into heaven, doesn’t it? When you read further, his wife talks about how he became scared of the black ghost in the rocking chair, a result from a bad dream Mr. Wilson had. His son describes his dad as a hard man to live with as he would use the n-word in front of his friends, sneer at black people (families included) in public, and heckle them in restaurants. And this is when he was old enough to know better.
I just don’t buy it and this is why:
In the 1980s, when the local cemetery began burying blacks alongside whites, Wilson became so incensed he threatened to disinter the bodies of his parents. When a black family bought a house in the neighborhood around the same time, Wilson accosted the real estate agent and demanded that the sale be rescinded.
He yelled racial insults whenever his grandson, Christopher, whom he raised, talked on the phone to his black wrestling buddy. When a garden ornament — a stone statue of a black boy in straw hat — was vandalized in Wilson's front yard, he strung up a black doll with a noose around its neck, and threatened to use an AK-47 against a neighbor who complained.
As late as 1999, when his Baptist pastor began encouraging more black participation, Wilson got so upset he left the church.
You might think different, but someone who can hold onto so much hate even after he knows better, doesn’t seem to be all that sincere to me. It sounds like Mr. Wilson wants to make sure he gets into heaven and in order to, he’s doing what the church has been preaching all his life: repent, be saved and you shall be welcome in God’s land.

I do not want to go to the same heaven where people like him might be. Who knows what they carry with them, if all this hate follows them even in death?

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