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Star Business Section News - Page B2 Star

June 10, 1996


by Staff Journalists, The Daily Republican OnLine Newspaper

SACRAMENTO DESK - President, William Jefferson Clinton, during his Saturday radio address to the nation, said: "In our country during the '50s and '60s, black churches were burned to intimidate civil rights workers. I have vivid and painful memories of black churches being burned in my own state when I was a child."

Clinton's radio broadcast has deeply insulted his own home-state Democrats. They are saying Clinton has falsely accused Arkansans of torching black churches. After several Arkansans, including the state historian and leaders of several black organizations, disputed Clinton's "vivid and painful memories" of church burnings in Arkansas, Clinton decided to change his story.

The president said Monday that he could not recall any fires at black churches in Arkansas. Now he says he remembers fires at "black community buildings" in the Arkansas.

Clinton did respond to questions from reporters prompted by a story playing in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in Little Rock on Monday. The Little Rock media said there was no record of any Arkansas black churches being burned during the fight for civil rights in the South.

Jim Johnson, a retired state Supreme Court justice demanded of Clinton, at least, name "... one black church which has been burned in the state of Arkansas or else apologize for the shame which you continue to bring to your native state!"

Late yesterday, Clinton flying from Las Vegas to a $100,000 per couple Democrat Party fund-raiser at the home of Cong. Diane Feinstein(D) of San Francisco. In San Francisco, Clinton then offered further amendments to his numerous misleading statements. He now says "... there were burnings of some black community buildings ..." Clinton originally said he recalled the burning of black churches in his own state "... as very vivid and painful."

To make matters worse, a group of black ministers whose churches in adjoining Southern states have been torched were saying that they have been intimidated by law enforcement officials. The Rev. Mac Charles Jones, a National Council of Churches official and spokesman for the church leaders told reporters "The pastors were absolutely concerned that these investigations have turned into interrogations rather than investigations." After a 90-minute private meeting with Miss Reno, the pastors won a promise from Duval Patrick, assistant attorney general for civil rights, to look into the investigating methods.

Circumstances indicate that Clinton's off-hand comments during the radio show alleging church burnings in Arkansas were fabrications.

His Arkansas Democrat Party constituents don't think Clinton could have remembered such fires, since there were not any according to John Ferguson, director of the Arkansas History Commission. Former Arkansas State Senator, Jerry Jewell who served as a President of the State NAACP from 1959-1973 told the Arkansas Gazette on Monday "I've never known of a black church being burned in Arkansas."

For several hundred years, American folk wisdom has held that there are four stumbling blocks to telling the 'truth'. These are known as the Four Causes of Error. They are:

  • The influence of fragile or unworthy authority.

  • Custom.

  • The imperfection of undisciplined senses.

  • Concealment of ignorance by ostentation of seeming wisdom.



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