The Real Tulsa

Daily Ardmoreite/June 5, 1921

Proud, matchless Tulsa comes before the bar of Christian civilization this day, and, with head bowed, the mantel of shame upon her cheek, and, we sincerely hope, with deep regret in her heart, asks that she be pardoned the great offense some of her citizens committed during Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.

Thus wrote the editor of the Tulsa World on the day upon which red ruin ruled and riot held sway in that city, the day upon which Tulsa was arraigned at the “bar of civilization.”

And, as the story of the horrors of a race war was flashed over the wires by the news service corporations, there was not a city in this great state that did not feel deeply for the law-abiding element of Tulsa, the class who ever have to suffer for the sins of the lawless.

Tulsa is the principal city of Northern Oklahoma, just as Ardmore is the Queen City of Southern Oklahoma. Just as Ardmore is the trade center, the commercial and financial hub of the great southern plains of this state, so is Tulsa the financial center of all that vast region which is found cornering with Missouri, Arkansas and Kansas. Separated from Ardmore by over two hundred miles of hills and dales, of mountains and valley lands, yet linked together by the bands of railway’s steel, the two cities, Ardmore and Tulsa, are sisters in point of commercial importance, while the fact that the citizenship of both cities are made up, in the main lf that great class of progressives who have done so much to make Oklahoma the wonder state of the union should make every inhabitant of the two cities joint members of the great brotherhood of man.

When the news flashed over the wires, the news which carried to the outside world the story of Tulsa’s horror and Tulsa’s shame, the good people of this community felt in their hearts the deepest pity, the most sincere commiseration, and mourned with the people of Tulsa, even as they would have mourned with some near and dear friend upon whose home the blighting shadow of disgrace had fallen.

Yes, the people of Ardmore felt keenly for the people of Tulsa, knowing that a blow dealt the good name of that city was a blow launched at the good name of each and every law-abiding citizen of the state of Oklahoma. But—

Tulsa boasted that she was not Ardmore. And now a negligible number of men have plunged the reputation of the fair city into the depth of infamy. Language is incapable of painting the wrong which has been committed against the community and its peaceful, law-abiding citizens, or of expressing the indignity one inevitably feels towards men incapable of controlling their passions and their prejudices.

How, then, do you suppose the better element of Ardmore people felt when they read the above lives in an editorial which appeared in the Tulsa World, a part of the same editorial which forms the opening paragraph of this article?

Do you not think that the man who penned the lines above quoted is possessed of a hart whose every throw spews forth wormwood and gall in place of brotherly love and the Christian spirit of which he prates?

He prays in his editorial (which was reproduced in full in Friday’s edition of The Ardmoreite) that the members of the superior race may be forgiven their sins committed against the people of a race inferior. He raises his voice in lamentation against the iniquities of the world, in one breath, and in the next breath gives birth to utterances which are calculated to curdle the milk of human kindness and sever the mythical bond which, we are told, makes all man kin.

He deplores the fact that Tulsa, the professed abiding place of righteousness and justice, the home of virtue, the sanctuary of holiness has at last come out from behind the camouflaging cloud, a fallen angel fit only to be classed in the same list as Ardmore.
Yea, Tulsa, the mighty Babylon of modern times, is fallen, overtaken in its sins, found out in its iniquity, the veil of its self-righteousness rent asunder, its depravity exposed to the light of day in all its grisly, unchaste nakedness.

Tulsa, the wolf enfolded in the cloak of the lamb; Tulsa, the Pharisee proclaiming from the housetops, “Thank God, I am not as Ardmore;” Tulsa, young in years, but old, so old in sin; Tulsa, flouting the vermillion encrusted brazenness of the courtesan and seeking to pass it off as the blush-mantled cheek of the innocent, the undefiled, the virtuous maiden; Tulsa, parading the streets with all the effrontery of the evil doer of ancient times; Tulsa, nestled in the Osage hills, the Babylon of Oklahoma.

And in the face of all this the editorial writer of the Tulsa World, his pen dipped in the vitriol distilled from an inborn and unjust hared of Ardmore, of the law officers of Ardmore, of the citizens of Ardmore, that pen guided by a hand actuated by a brain warped either by some ulterior motive or an unholy desire to show that the hireling is worthy the wage paid him for prostituting the gift of intellect with which an unwise Providence endowed him, seeks to carry to the world the impression that “a negligible number of men have plunged the reputation of the fair city into the depth of infamy” into which Ardmore had already sunk.

The writer of the World’s editorial must be a man with a mind so warped and biased that he finds it impossible to deal justly with the people of a sister city, the people of Ardmore who, before his editorial was blazoned to mankind, were willing to try to believe that the Tulsa horror was perpetrated by a “negligible few.”

If this writer would tell all the truth about the matter, would expose all that led up to the commission of this great crime against civilization, he would not state that a “negligible number” were alone responsible. He would not make this assertion even while the blood of murder drips from the fingertips of the rioters of both races, while the smoke continues to curl from the torch of incendiarism, while the ruins in the burnt sections of the city smoulder and the moans and cries of the dying undulate and murmur through the pulsing air.

The writer of the World’s editorial possesses a brilliant vocabulary. He knows the English language, knows how to round sentences into beautifully symmetrical form, knows how to come to periods which roll and thunder and reverberate with all the power that rhetoric may bestow.

But, unfortunately, he is also possessed of a mind which is too narrow to function upon broad plains, a mind which cannot weave any pattern save that wherein the warp of factional hatred commingles with the woof of sectional bias.

He belongs to that class of writers who, in ante-bellum days, in the days before the Civil War, phrased sentences which burned with the eloquence of Demosthenes as they told stories of fancied deeds of frightfulness committed by the people of the South against the people of an inferior race, stories interwoven with the calumnies which brought about the greatest fratricidal strife that ever blasted a nation and caused the gentle Dove of Peace to fly, affrighted, from scenes of bloodshed, vandalism and red ruin.

Vandalism has taken the homes and savings of thousands of people, Tulsa must restore that which has been taken. The sins of a comparative few are thus visited upon the whole community. But it is a cross that must be shouldered willingly and heroically. Not else can the wounds of passion be healed or the scars of intolerant hatred be soothed. In this moment men of Tulsa stand at the crossroads in the city’s destiny. One way leads to a greater and more glorious future; the other certainly leads to retrogression and decay. There must not, there can not, be any hesitating.

Unquestionably the people of Tulsa owe it to the people of all other sections of Oklahoma to rebuild the destroyed section, the “Little Africa’ which was wiped out by the torch. They owe it to the people of the state to rebuild the homes of the negroes, in order that those negroes be not sent forth, unprovided for, a burden upon the citizens of other parts of Oklahoma.

But why the allusion to “Intolerant hatred?” What grounds has the World’s editorial writer for justification of this delving into the musty archives of almost three-quarters of a century ago? What reason has he to dig into the grave of Oblivion in an effort to disinter the skeleton of a forgotten Past?

So far as we can see, so far as we can understand, the only intolerant hatred which may be found in the United States today, if that hatred conceived in iniquity by a biased or diseased brain, and spewed out upon the earth, there to fester under the scorching rays of a midsummer sun, and pollute the pure air of heaven.

The man who would seek to revive “intolerant hatred” of three-quarters of a century ago, through writing along the lines followed by the white sepulchers of antebellum days, is like the hog which returns to wallow, the drunkard who returns to his cups, the dog that returns to his vomit.

Lax regard of the usages of society, non-enforcement of the laws, may alone be held responsible for the Tulsa outrage. Primarily the sworn officers of the law are to be held responsible for the “outrage against civilization” which was perpetrated Tuesday night and Wednesday of last week, at Tulsa. This and the mob spirit, the same spirit which a few months ago led to the lynching of a white boy of that city, may alone be held to blame that Tulsa today is advertised to the outside world as a cesspool of hell, a cesspool which has been boiling and bubbling, seething and frothing for many months.

And no unmanly unethical effort to make it appear that Tulsa and Ardmore are now on the same footing, morally, will detract one jot or tittle from the odium under which the law-abiding citizens of that town will be forced to lie for many years to come.