In the comments section to his own March 30 blog article "Grand Lodge of Arkansas Pulls Charter, Files Charges Over Website," Bro. Chris Hodapp posted the following words, which I found especially direct and meaningful. With his permission, I am reposting his comments as a guest article here.
I have stacks of emails from Masons in many states with stories about frankly appalling decisions, actions and behavior by grand lodge officers over the last dozen years. I'm sure Fred Milliken and Widow's Son have them as well. I have no desire to drag them across the internet — much of it is gossip, much of it is hearsay, much of it is hard to prove. But much of it is not.
What is fast becoming clear is that some grand lodges have recently become nervous about embarrassing statements and edicts being leaked to the public, and worse, being posted on the internet. Funny thing about this technology, the way it shines a bright light on things that don't look so good when they are all lit up.
There is no question that not every grand master is perfect. The level of imperfection varies wildly, but there is a certain type of person who believes he has absolute power to rule with an iron whim, exact revenge, and in short, behave in ways that absolutely fly in the face of everything our fraternity teaches us. Fortunately, such men with a misunderstanding of their position and duties don't often make it to the Grand East. Unfortunately, enough do that there are Masons who live in fear every day for their dues card, who fail to stand up for what is right and proper because it's hard to do if the choice is shut up or be expelled. But allowing politics, revenge, racism, criminal misconduct, and worse to enter into the highest levels of the fraternity is something no Mason should stand by and allow to happen without demanding better leadership.
Both of my folks are from Louisville, Kentucky, and I have lived part of my life in Virginia. My father lives in Georgia now. I've seen racism in the Deep South, and in the North. Ignorance knows know boundaries, and I learned long ago not to get fooled one way or the other by accent and diction. I don't see "South" and automatically think of banjo music and rotten teeth. But there is no dodging the fact that all of the states left in the US that do not recognize their Prince Hall counterparts are, with the exception of West Virginia, members of the Old Confederacy. There are states where lodge officers and grand lodge officers are trying hard to make changes. There are other states where an entrenched old guard would rather that Freemasonry die than let a man of a different race pass the Tyler's door. And the same is true on both the mainstream side and the Prince Hall side.
We've all heard the excuses, and it's embarrassing that they are the same ones trotted out back in the days of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. You'd have thought the least that could happen would be some new ones invented. The point is, it's not 1954 anymore. I had an Atlanta police officer (much younger than I was) who was a Mason literally poke me in the chest and tell me I was destroying Freemasonry by allowing black men to join my lodge, that black men could NOT be Masons because of the Ancient Landmarks, and that "down here we know how to treat 'em." I'm sorry, but that cop needs to be up on Masonic charges (and possibly before a civilian review panel, as well). The same goes for any grand lodge officer who shares those sentiments. There is no place for it in a fraternity that trots out the cardinal virtues and proclaims universal benevolence in one breath, and then proves they know nothing about the subjects in the next. And I have no illusion that there aren't Prince Hall Masons who would rather open a vein than let a white man in his lodge, as well.
Our petitions are color blind, and our fraternity should be too.
I'm not a big one for demanding that other grand lodges use the nuclear option and drop fraternal relations with the openly racist jurisdictions. It only hurts sojourning brethren, and it threatens the sovereignty of the grand lodge system. In the 1870s, New York accused Indiana of destroying the fraternity by prohibiting alcohol in lodge rooms, and threatened to withdraw recognition over it (They were probably right.). More recently, the imbroglio over the Grand Lodge of France and Minnesota brought down the wrath of Michigan, New York and other GLs, when clearly they had absolutely zero justification. One man's justifiable reason is another's personal grudge.
But the time HAS come for grand masters outside of the Confederacy to start making noise and whispering good council in the ears of their Southern brethren. Prince Hall recognition has been an issue since 1948. It's been 62 years, and for nearly 20% of the United States to still be having this argument is a disgrace. Young professional men don't find discrimination in their businesses, housing, transportation, or lunch counters. For it to exist in their fraternity is appalling.
— Bro. Chris Hodapp
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