More content out of context

In a previous letter, I wondered about the inclusion of a gratuitous claim that Newton T. Bass was a racist (“Racist roots of Apple Valley,” April 21), which was in response to an article by Matthew Cabe (“Hilltop House Offer Accepted,” Daily Press, April 17). I tried to make clear that was not questioning the allegation itself so much as that it did not seem germane. If Mr. Cabe had tied allegations of previous racism with the Town’s push to make a landmark out of the home of a famous local racist, that would have been one thing. Given that our mayor was once fired for making a racist remark, and given that others on the Town council have engaged repeatedly in derogatory ethnic references, it might have made an interesting story indeed. Failing that, the insertion in passing of an allegation of racism is, at best, controversial only for the sake of being controversial, not for the sake of being enlightening.

Now that Mr. Cabe has revisited this discussion, I must renew my objection (“To include or not to include the controversial,” April 28). Rather than address my original objection in his 820-word article, Mr. Cabe has gone off on a tangent about Bass’ so-called racism. This is rather like saying “I have a turtle who climbs fence posts, and if you don’t believe me, I’ll show you the fence post.”

It turns out that the whole claim of racism rests on the shaky foundation of a “Declaration of Restrictions” Bass is said to have employed when selling real estate in the area. Besides the fact that any such restriction was unenforceable in the wake of the Fair Housing Act (AKA Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968), Declarations of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (AKA CC&Rs) were common practice at least throughout the southland in that period of time. A friend of mine purchased a house in Westchester in the 1980s, and it came with similar (and unenforceable) language in its CC&Rs. For that matter, when my wife and I purchased our home in Apple Valley in 2004, we had to sign comparable CC&Rs. Seeing as how there was an African-American woman renting our future home from a Jewish man, and that our realtor was an African-American woman, I fail to see how this provides proof-positive of racism on the part of anyone involved.

I realize freedom of association is no longer in vogue for whites, even though it is is supposedly protected by the same Amendment to the Constitution that ensures freedom of the press, but if you are going to offer to talk about history — controversial or otherwise — please include all the facts, not just those that fit the meme du jour. This I find to be a much better approach than presuming to judge the actions of those in the past by the conventions of the present.

Greg Raven, Apple Valley, CA