‘White Lies’: The Temptation to Cancel Ugly History

The Gospel Coalition | 7/17/2019 | Brett McCracken
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It happened so long ago. It’s the distant past. Most of those involved are long dead or too old to remember. Do we really want to punish an 87-year-old, dying man for something he did half a century ago? Can’t we just move on?

These are questions and sentiments raised by white Alabamians in White Lies, an excellent new investigative podcast from NPR. The seven-episode series, which premiered in May, follows journalists Andrew Beck Grace and Chip Brantley as they revisit an infamous civil-rights-era cold case: the 1965 murder of white clergyman James Reeb in Selma, Alabama.

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While walking down the street, Reeb and two other white ministers—in Selma to march on behalf of civil tights—were attacked and beaten by a gang of white men. Reeb was clubbed in the head and died of his wounds. His death sparked a national outcry, but no one was ever held to account. Three men were tried for Reeb’s murder but acquitted by an all-white jury. The defense posited a conspiracy theory that became the accepted truth among Selma’s white residents: Reeb was only injured in the attack on the street; he actually died at the hands of civil-rights leaders who wanted a white martyr for their cause.

In White Lies, Grace and Brantley go knocking on doors in Selma, in search of the truth. They face a lot of “leave me out of it” closed doors from folks who’d rather not be confronted with Selma’s ugly past. But they are diligent in their investigation, modeling a sort of unflinching commitment to truth—however uncomfortable it may be—that Christians would do well to emulate.

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White Lies is a riveting series with the sorts of twists and turns we’ve come to expect in true crime podcasts. But it’s more than just entertainment. The podcast reminds us of the importance...
(Excerpt) Read more at: The Gospel Coalition
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