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Hatred can spread like kudzu

By Walter Geiger There is a spot I pass on one of my walking routes where kudzu has taken permanent hold. It has been there for years but has not spread far because it is hemmed in by a maintained hayfield on one side and the county right of way on the other. Its one location, however, is ideal for it and it thrives there. Its blossoms are pretty and it is occasionally fragrant so its nuisance factor has not exceeded the point where the county or landowner have seen fit to endeavor to kill it. Kudzu was introduced in the United States at the Philadelphia Continental Exposition in 1876 as an ornamental shade bush. Problem was it shaded out everything – even Grandma if she dozed in her rocker too long. It was later rebranded as a way for farmers to combat soil erosion and feed cattle and marketed right here at home. Goats will sample it but cows will eat it only as a last resort. Southern farmers were paid some eight dollars an acre to plant it in the 1930s and 1940s so they planted over a million acres and pocketed the much needed government cash. We have been dealing with kudzu ever since. It is almost as bad as Johnson grass but not quite. Recently public works used a ditch witch to cut through the kudzu patch I pass to extend a water line to a residence down the road where a well had gone bad. The work solved the water problem but left a long, red clay scar down the side of the road some 300 yards beyond the kudzu’s home base. Within days, kudzu erupted from the scar along its entire distance. Somehow the work spread seeds or stolons of the dreaded weed all along the roadside. It is thriving in the heat and spreading fast. As I observed this spread, I reflected on the sudden resurgence of hatred for police officers. Perceived actions on the parts of a few officers who may or may not have crossed the line, have been blown out of proportion by the national media and scarred the protective layer of trust cops everywhere have labored since the divisive 1960s to develop. Now, like the kudzu, hatred for police has sprung forth upon the fertile ground along that scar almost to the point of no return. Until you give them a reason to do otherwise, sheriff’s deputies, police officers, state troopers and other officers are here to help you. They work long hours for low pay to protect and serve everyone – even those who march shouting ‘˜pigs in a blanket, burn ‘˜em like bacon’ in cities throughout this country. Someone is going to have to spray the roadside I pass to wipe out the spread of kudzu. Open lines of communication and less divisive rhetoric are needed to quell the current hate for law enforcement. Here’s hoping cooler heads will prevail. If not, it’s going to get ugly. Real ugly! Kudzu is hard to kill. Hatred, like Johnson grass, is almost impossible to eliminate. Walter Geiger is editor and publisher of The Herald Gazette and Pike County Journal Reporter.

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