Elaina Plott writes:

* Forsyth County was a calm, quiet, ordered place. But it had a history. In September 1912, an 18-year-old white girl was found bloodied and barely breathing in the woods lining the Chattahoochee River; she died two weeks later. Within 24 hours of her discovery, four Black men had been arrested and charged with assault. A white mob dragged one of the suspects from his cell and hanged him from a telephone pole. Two others were tried and executed. White residents then decided to undertake nothing short of a racial cleansing. On horseback, armed with rifles and dynamite, they drove out virtually all of the county’s Black population—more than 1,000 people. So successful were their efforts that the county would experience the modern civil-rights era vicariously at best. There were no whites only signs to fuss over in Cumming, because there were no Black people to keep separate.

* All of which is to say that Marge Taylor’s worldview was shaped in a community artificially devoid of sociocultural conflict, a history scrubbed of tension.

Most of the world punishes problems collectively. It is the Anglo world, almost alone, that believes that only individual wrongdoers should be punished for their sins.

I love this sentence: “Marge Taylor’s worldview was shaped in a community artificially devoid of sociocultural conflict, a history scrubbed of tension.” So, naturally, life should be filled with tensions and conflict?

I’m writing from Tannum Sands, Australia. About 150 years ago, this area was violently cleansed of aborigines and they’ve never come back. Ever since then, there’s only been microscopic rates of violent crime, sociocultural conflict and related tension. I don’t think the residents have suffered from this lack of crime and tension.


Aborigines vigorously defended their land with killings of white settlers at the Mount Larcom Station in 1855 and Miriam Vale Station in 1857. Chinamen, who had been imported by squatters to act as shepherds, were so scared by the ferocity and hostility of the Aborigines, that they deserted “en masse”. Despite the massacres and disease which decimated the local Aboriginal population, descendents have always lived in the area and maintained contacts and links with the land.

I’ve never seen or heard of these mythical descendents. Their presence in this area has been minimal.

Elaina Plott concludes: “Whether Greene actually believes the things she says is by now almost beside the point. She has no choice but to be the person her followers think she is, because her power is contingent on theirs. The mechanics of actual leadership—diplomacy, compromise, patience—not only don’t interest her but represent everything her followers disdain. To soften, or engage in better faith, is to admit defeat.”

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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