Barbara Haddad Ryan: Yoder’s ‘folly’

June 20, 2014 

Regarding the June 7 Point of View “Plenty of sources of doubt on Saunders”: Edwin M. Yoder challenges a student campaign at UNC-Chapel Hill to remove William Saunders’ name from a campus building. He questions whether there is sound evidence that Saunders directed and encouraged “Klan follies in North Carolina.” Follies?

Being familiar with Yoder’s career, I’m astonished that a longtime journalist chose that term to describe the Klan’s bloody history of intimidation, rape, torture and murder. My 1974 Webster’s dictionary doesn’t give “follies” its own listing; it’s simply the plural of “folly.” The third meaning of “folly,” to be sure, is “evil, wickedness ... criminally or tragically foolish actions.” But in contemporary usage, “follies” usually suggests a lively entertainment.

Surely Yoder could have picked a more accurate word.

Barbara Haddad Ryan, Cary

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