By Rob Holston
February 12, 2009
That night a local jazz officianato I've known for years asked my wife, "How's Rob going to end Benny's From Heaven. His question speaks more highly of my character than your accusations do. Steve was afraid I might say, "damned" in public.
Because your letter Makes No Mention of What I Said or Did That Offended Folks, countless readers are left wondering if I dropped the "F" bomb or the "N" bomb or dressed in a KKK outfit! Discussion is warranted. I feel it's a quantum leap from me singing a song that mentions Barack Obama to accusing me of racism & bigotry. First, I do thank you & First City Players for many past contributions to Ketchikan. I have attended countless artistic presentations over the past 28 years here and elsewhere. Local theaters portray prostitution, adultery, gays, lesbians, religion, drunkenness, drugs, sex, aural sex, right to life, polygamy & etc. Some topics and portrayals ARE offensive to folks! Part of art, however, is exploring the issues of the day and it is obvious to me from reading your letter that this community & country needs to progress into an era of racial understanding, tolerance, acceptance, healing and love; including the ability to laugh. The racist bomb is EASY for you to drop on me but open-mindedness suffers. I do fully forgive you.
Because I only view Oprah about three times a year, I felt very privileged to happen upon her TV introduction of Barack Obama as a presidential candidate!!! I felt at that time how great it would be if something like that could happen in my lifetime! Months later I viewed a Larry King interview of Michelle Obama and I was overwhelmed with tears of joy that this Cinderella story might come true. Imagine that, a BLACK Cinderella! (humor) Well, it has come true and I, with the rest of the world, am pleasantly overwhelmed by it. It wasn't a huge step for me because I never have been prejudiced towards ANY race. Your "hate" letter published on SitNews, Feb. 3 declares I'm a "racist" and a "bigot." I deny those accusations. Any complaints reflect far more on the complainer than on me. Bigotry IS intolerance. Your type of letter prevents or deters a vast majority of the audience who broke into spontaneous applause and laughter that night, from writing any letter in support of Benny, & me for fear of being labeled with the same spurious terms of racist & bigot that you have put on me. Are those 250 folks racists & bigots too?
Gerry, you asked for an apology, so let me say I am TRULY VERY SORRY for you and Tom, Keith and Elizabeth and other management personnel who were put in the "awkward" position of answering complaints from Democrats & others offended by my rendition of Mr. Eddie Jefferson's humorous song, "Benny's From Heaven." Cabaret folks had not seen my prop or heard my tag. Eddie was born a very black man in 1918 & died in 1979 and leaves a legacy of lyrics. We can only assume he wrote these lyrics with humor in mind, including the last line, "Benny must be from Heaven, he damned sure aint from me!" I changed damned to darned so I wouldn't offend anyone. Go to YOUTUBE.COM, search Eddie Jefferson and enjoy his version.
Perhaps Eddie's and Rob's humor is light-years ahead (or not) of the complaining '60's-minded folks who might suffer from Racial Hyper Sensitivity Syndrome (RHSS) or Over Political Correctness Caution (OPCC). I hope those offended will lighten up, embrace life, ethnic and racial diversity and enjoy the God given differences He has created. I think both Eddie and President Barack would find my tag line barrel laughing funny but I'm sorry it offended you. "If you's his MAMMA, why's he look like OBAMA?"
Received February 12, 2009 - Published February 12, 2009
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