To start my summer, I took up a book that I have always loved but hadn’t read in quite some time, Time’s Witness by Michael Malone. The book is a story of race and politics in the South presented as mystery of sorts with a well-drawn assortment of thoughtful characters. First published in 1989, like To Kill a Mockingbird, it remains timely today. And, given the horrifying events in Charleston this week, much more timely than I would like it to be.
The novel is not only thoughtful in its reflections about race and police; it’s timely in its reflections about the human condition with some ideas worth keeping in mind. To that end, I’ve collected a few of my favorite quotes from the book.
“….I grew up deciding the world was nothing but a sad, dangerous junk pile heaped with shabby geegaws, the bullies who peddled the, and the broken-up human beings who worked the line. Some good people came along and they softened my opinion. So I’m open to any evidence they can show me that God’s not asleep at the wheel, barreling blind down the highway with all us dumb scared creatures screaming in the back seat.” - Cuddy Mangum
“Our views on crime and punishment take different etymological routes: he believes in prisons, I believe in penitentiaries. What he lives for is capital crime convicting, big ones, and lots of them. Like I say, what I am after is as much peace, with as little injustice, as this sad greedy race of creatures can be cajoled, trained, or bullied into tolerating.” - Cuddy Mangum
And the quote that I keep coming back to in the wake of the unbearable violence in Charleston:
“Guns are cheap, brains are rare.” - Cuddy Mangum