Tony Kendall

I’m not shy about admitting I get a measure of gratification whenever someone writes or tells me they liked one of my columns and to keep on doing what I’m doing.

But nothing lights my lamp and motivates me to keep on keeping on the way like missives from those who are critical of me do.

A few months after I had started writing this column many years ago, I was having some adult beverages with my friend and colleague, the late great Jim “Spider” Dumas, at one of the local watering holes.

We were approached by a guy, who asked Spider why he was drinking with the enemy. In typical down-home Spider fashion, he smiled and told the guy that I wasn’t such a bad fellow once you got know me.

The guy sort of shrugged and gave me a backhanded compliment, to which I took offense. When the guy left, Spider told me that if I was going to voice my opinions in print, my skin would have to get thicker.

He explained that when he and I went back and forth with each other in print, we were like wrestlers and, depending on the viewpoint of the reader, one of us was the “heel” and the other the “face.”

Being an old-school wrestling fan who adored Jackie Fargo and could do the Fargo Strut with the best of imitators, I understood what he was saying.

I said as long as readers in the Bottom and the hills of Krider, Depot and Peden thought I was the “face,” it didn’t matter to me what anyone else thought.

I still believe that, which is why, for the most part, I don’t respond to my critics too often; but every now and then, I’ll read a letter or comment and feel the need to clap back at one.

You’re up, Phyllis “P.J.” Robbearts. Maybe reading this will keep you from being lured into my so-called web of deceit for a spell.

The race war against nonwhite people (look, a new descriptor) you claim I want to start in this community was well under way by the time I arrived on the scene in February of 1961.

As for me making up stuff about former President Donald Trump, as soon as the presidential election was called in favor of Joe Biden, Trump started telling his Big Lie that the election was stolen from him.

And in true cult-like fashion, you and 75 percent of his loyal minions believed it to be true and did everything in your power to make it reality, even though in 61 of 62 cases presented to courts in the seven disputed states, the courts ruled that the elections were free of fraud on the level claimed by Trump and his subjects.

At the same time he was telling the Big Lie, Trump urged as many of his loyal followers as possible to come on Jan. 6 to Washington, D.C., to “stop the steal” and prevent the election from being certified by Congress that day.

When the mob of Trump loyalist arrived in Washington, the opening acts at the Trump show — Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama, bagman and fixer Rudy Giuliani, Trump spawn Don Jr. and Eric, and others — set the mood for the insurrection that was to come.

Brooks told them, “Today is the day American patriots start taking names and kicking a--.”

Eric Trump told the crowd, “We live in the greatest country in the world, and we will never, ever, ever stop fighting.”

In a profanity-filled, screaming rant, Don Jr. threatened Congressional Republicans who refused to fight for his father, saying these guys better fight for Trump and that this rally should be a message to the people who did nothing to stop the steal.

Before leaving the stage for the headliner, he reminded all those gathered that “this was no longer their Republican Party, it was Donald Trump’s Republican Party!”

Yes, Mrs. Robbearts, one time during his hour-plus screed, Trump did say that he wanted the crowd to march “peacefully” down the street to the Capitol and let Congress know how they felt about the certification of Biden’s victory.

Here are a few other statements Trump made in and around his peaceful protest remark that incited an already-hyped-up mob to storm the Capitol Building:

• “We’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them, because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You must show strength, and you have to be strong.”

• “If you don’t fight like h---, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”

• “We’re gathered in the heart of our nation’s capital for one very, very basic and simple reason, to save our democracy.”

• “We will not let them silence your voices. We’re not going to let it happen, not going to let it happen.”

• “Our country has had enough. We will not take it anymore, and that’s what this is all about. To use a favorite term that all of you people really came up with, we will stop the steal.”

• “That’s what they’ve done and what they’re doing. We will never give up. We will never concede; it doesn’t happen. You don’t concede when there’s theft involved.”

• “Let them get out. Let the weak ones get out. This is a time for strength. It’s all part of the comprehensive assault on our democracy and the American people to finally standing up and say, ‘No.’ This crowd is again a testament to it.”

• “You will have an illegitimate president, that’s what you’ll have. And we can’t let that happen.”

• “We will not be intimidated into accepting the hoaxes and the lies that we’ve been forced to believe over the past several weeks. We’ve amassed overwhelming evidence about a fake election.”

Mrs. Robbearts, if Trump was all about a peaceful protest, why did it take more than three hours for him to tell his riotous insurrectionists to stand down and leave the Capitol Building?

And don’t you think a man who had peaceful intentions in his heart would have called and checked on the well-being of his vice president, once he learned of the possible danger he and his family were in, along with the other people in the building?

I’d like to take credit for coining the phrase, “The Cult,” when referring to members of the former Republican Party and you die-hard Trumpsters, but I can’t. Many other political observers recognized the phenomenon long before I did.

What else can you call a group of people who for years claimed that their political views were based on a set of conservative principles, like the rule of law, adherence to and respect for the U.S. Constitution, observing and following political norms, practicing fiscal sanity, supporting free trade, being strong on Russia and personal responsibility?

Then, before you can say Donald Trump, they toss these views aside and pledge fealty to a thrice-married, amoral, adulterous, corrupt, lying, racist, misogynistic, xenophobic, homophobic, white nationalist, bigoted, lap dog for our long-time global enemy, wanna-be authoritarian?

That is behavior associated in being part of a cult, Mrs. Robbearts.

You urged me to be more like Morgan Freeman and speak not of racism, in belief that it will go away. Don’t think so. I’ll pass.

For every person of color (another descriptor) you can produce who thinks like him, I’ll show you nine who think like me and raise you more than a few white people of good will who feel the same way.

Although your personal comments about me speak for themselves, I’ll counter with this quote often attributed to Mark Twain or Abraham Lincoln, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak (or write) and to remove all doubt.”


Hi, Momma Lois. They still be coming for ya boy!


TONY KENDALL of Hazel is a writer, teacher, actor, playwright and sports fanatic. He can be reached by email at

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