Editor's note: John Avlon is a CNN contributor and senior political columnist for Newsweek and The Daily Beast. He is co-editor of the new book "Deadline Artists: America's Greatest Newspaper Columns."
By John Avlon, CNN Contributor
(CNN) - We're in the thick of the South Carolina Republican Primary, and all the ugly old stereotypes are being deployed as shorthand for one very beautiful state.
You know, the characterization of South Carolina as a swamp of sleazy politics and brutal attack ads, a Bible Belt bastion of rednecks and racism, a state defined by Bob Jones University.
Sometimes these stereotypes are floated in political conversation as evidence of how "real" the state is in determining the true feelings of the conservative base.
Yes, South Carolina is conservative - especially compared with Washington, Los Angeles and New York City. But it is complex and constantly evolving, containing one of the oldest cities in America and a growing population, especially along the coastline. My family moved there when I was 14, and we love the state - and especially the elegant, functional and lyrical city of Charleston - with the zeal of the converted. For my parents, it is home.
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By Rose Marie Arce and Susan Candiotti, CNN
Colchester, Connecticut (CNN) - Juliet Steer was dying of lymphoma when she told her brother Paul she wanted to be buried just like Jesus, following Jewish customs. Even though she’s a black Christian, she chose a plot in the secluded interfaith section of this quiet town's Jewish Ahvath Achim Cemetery.
“She felt like it was a nice and peaceful place,” Paul Steer said. Juliet liked the quiet. When she died, Paul had her buried in the plot, hopeful that she’d finally rest in peace.
But this Jewish cemetery in Colchester, Connecticut, has been anything but peaceful since one of its board members sued Paul Steer. It’s now the center of a legal fight tinged with allegations of racial and religious prejudices.
Maria Balaban, a cemetery board member who has relatives buried there, is demanding Paul remove Juliet’s remains from the cemetery because she is not Jewish and has no ties to anyone in the Jewish section. Paul Steer believes part of the reason Balaban wants his sister's remains removed is because she was African-American.
“Her lawyer said ‘My client don’t believe your sister accepted the faith and she has to be exhumed.' I said, ‘What are you talking about?' 'Your sister don’t (sic) belong there, the cemetery is only for Jews,'” remembers Paul, whose family is of Jamaican descent. “I said, ‘Man, get out of here.’”
By Bob Crowley, CNN
Springfield, Massachusetts (CNN) – The phone rang at 3:00 am on Wednesday, November 5, 2008, hours after Barack Obama had been elected president. Bishop Bryant Robinson Jr. assumed this was his 6:00 a.m. wake-up call.
Robinson, the pastor at the Macedonia Church of God in Christ here, asked his brother Andrew to phone him so he wouldn’t oversleep. He told his brother just to let the phone ring a little while, as he planned to just get up and not answer.
So Robinson was a little annoyed when he heard the ringer again.
Not fully awake, he had trouble processing the voice on the receiver: “They are burning our church to the ground.”