Do You Have the Courage to Speak Up Against Domestic Terrorists?

Poppy Doc was a fine country doctor in central Illinois. He worked tirelessly to save his community from the Great Influenza in 1918, likely the deadliest plague in history. The extremely virulent influenza virus killed an estimated 50 to 100 million people in the space of just six months. But Poppy Doc was a practical man of reason. He insisted that his farming community follow his hygiene protocols and even made the stubborn farmers stop their work and go to bed to save their lives. And it did. Poppy Doc Welch was invited to speak at medical conventions about his success for decades.

However, Dr. J. W. Welch fought a second blight that hit his rural community that he was never invited to speak about. His town, like many towns back then, did not allow people of African descent to live within the city limits. A family came to Doc Welch's clinic one Saturday morning. A young mother with two toddlers and their very sick father stood humbly at the doorway. Poppy Doc was a son of a son who treated Union and Confederacy wounded without prejudice and insisted on boiling his instruments, although he was severely chastised for his behavior. Doc Welch did what was right and treated the man and as he often did - refused any payment. The family drove on in their rattle trap car and Poppy though little of it.

But others thought a great deal about it. Word spreads like dry grass fire in small towns and soon his beloved community knew the whole shocking story. On Sunday evening Poppy Doc was called out to the porch of my great, great grandmother's large white farmhouse. A makeshift cross burned in the yard. Sparks flew in the hot summer breeze, briefly catching and eerily ignited the tips of the huge pine trees that flanked the yard. My mother, a child of six, was not easily contained by her own regal mother as she fought for position to see what was happening. A small crowd of men, perhaps a dozen, stood in the grass beyond the cross. Heavily robed, the moonlight caught the angles and curves of their hooded faces.

"Don't treat any more Niggers, Doc." they shouted.

Poppy Doc was the kindest man I have ever known. But that night he stood on his front porch and his 6'3" large frame leaned over the porch railing. Words to make a sailor proud flowed from his barred teeth and he told them he would treat any man, woman or child he damn well wanted to. He then proceeded to call each man out by name, recognizing them from their boots, or voice or body frame.

"Charlie, I will not be delivering your wife's baby." "Jack, I will let that foot of yours rot off before I help you again, now take that cross off my lawn and don't come back here, ever."

The stupid men pondered their situation only briefly, knocked down their handiwork and dispersed. Poppy Doc's teeth still snarled when he retold the story to me a generation later as I sat curled on his lap, my favorite resting place.

In the past week I have listened to Pastor Don Clowers of Dallas, the keynote speaker at a graduation ceremony who faced a shotgun and had his revival tent riddled with bullets because he cut down the rope dividing his church in half, one side for whites and one side for blacks. Then today, I received a mailing from Southern Poverty Law Center that said "Children are not born to hate. They're taught." Morris Dees offers a teaching program, called Teaching Tolerance that ensures "amidst the storms of injustice and racial and ethnic hatred there exists a beacon of hope." Can these men be fighting the same poisonous ignorance that my Grandfather cursed on his front porch?

Could we, as rational humans, make room for everyone or must we scramble to take the most, the fastest. Volunteers and low paid individuals on the ground fight for equality in opportunity, safety, food, health care, education and shelter for the poorest. But where is the tax money? In our recent past, America was easily distracted from the truth and real priorities of our time. America is the world's worst glutton of CO2 emissions, biggest polluter and enjoys the best of everything while the majority of the world suffers. Does the rest of the world have reason to dislike our behavior? Instead of dealing with essential issues, our crooked politicians get us very excited about secondary causes and social problems that temporarily fire up the people and keep them busy arguing among themselves with no leadership to a resolution. Meanwhile, those same politicians are busy slipping in self-serving bills, making fortunes, starting wars, or torturing captured, but untried people. This is America?

Many racist, selfish and greedy "domestic terrorists" operate on a philosophy that their immigrant relatives have more rights then another's immigrant relatives. Hate crimes, intolerance and prejudice is shifting to Mexican immigrants and distracting the American people from urgent work that needs to be done. A prolonged fight at home again is stupidity and a diversion from what really needs to change in America. Simply set up a new, tighter policy for immigration and enforce it, starting today. Leave families alone that are living here now, consider them grandfathered in because we can not waste time on the issue. Mexican immigration is a splinter, while we are dealing with a heart attack. Our energies need to return to the essential work of keeping America safer and the planet from overheating.

James William Welch, M.D. was a patriot, his son served as a doctor in WW2, as was his grandson, Jimmy Will, who served hard duty in a submarine. But I think that Poppy Doc would be on his front porch today if he could, cursing and outraged at the incompetence at the helm of American decisions. Billions of dollars are wasted while grass root programs that fight hatred in the next generation go unfunded. Such shortsightedness ignores the wisdom of educating women of the world about freedom, historical facts, health and science because women will spread tolerance and peace to their children, rather than watch them slaughtered and maimed in endless wars. There must be an alternative to killing men who disagree with us. Could war be won through compromise, new leadership and diplomacy instead of killing hundreds of thousands of innocent people?

The hot embers in the tall pine trees may soon warn of severe bad weather instead of just bad attitudes. Will you speak out now for the future of your children and their children? Americans can reset their priorities for their tax dollar. Change must happen quickly and we must stand shoulder to shoulder with each other regardless of skin color, heritage or political party. Perhaps knowing Poppy Doc's story will give you strength to lead us out of war and into sane progress and a sustainable future, because he is an example of a real leader, a person of courage, sanity and morality.

©2009, Molly Barrow

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Dr. Molly Barrow holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and is the author of the new book, Matchlines: A revolutionary New Way of looking at relationships and making the right choices in love. She is an authority on relationship and psychological topics, a member of the American Psychological Association and a licensed mental health counselor. Dr. Molly has appeared as an expert on NBC, PBS, KTLA, and in O Magazine, Psychology Today, Newsday,,, Women's Health and Women's World. Please visit: or Take the new relationship compatibility test, Match Lines Systems for Successful Relationships for Singles, Couples and Business at Molly has a radio program, Your Relationship Answers at

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