Singing Carter’s praises while he can still hear them

Published 4:56 pm Friday, November 12, 2021

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To the Editor:

The Consolers, a gospel-music group famous for singing, “Lord, Bring Me Down,” also sang, “Give Me My Flowers.” Oftentimes, people who have contributed much to the social good are celebrated and praised after they have died. Why not give humanitarians their flowers while they live and can smell those flowers?

Hence, President Jimmy Carter deserves to be extolled for decades of benevolent services to the marginalized and oppressed around the world.

When Carter, a relative unknown on the national stage in 1976, told his mother, Lillian, he was running for President, she asked, “President of what?” Nonetheless, Carter defeated Gerald Ford, whose pardon of President Richard “Tricky Dick” Nixon may have cost him the election in 1976. In any event, Carter is a very religious man, often teaching Sunday School in his hometown of Plains, Georgia. President Carter famously asserted, “We should live our lives as though Christ were coming this afternoon.” (Boston Sunday Herald Advertiser, March 1976)

During Carter’s presidency, this nation experienced double-digit inflation, high interest rates, and a so-called malaise that bespoke trouble for Carter’s re-election prospects. Let’s not forget the Iranian Hostage Crisis, where 66 Americans were taken captive by Iranian militants at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. By the way, Carter’s hostage rescue attempts became a fiasco.

To his credit, Carter signed the Camp David Accords in September 1978. That led to a historic peace treaty between Israel and Egypt in 1979. Carter also appointed more Blacks to federal positions than any of his predecessors. Additionally, he secured the Panama Canal Treaties, the return of the Panama Canal Zone to Panama, and the second round of Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT II).

In the 1980 Presidential Election, Carter lost miserably to California Governor Ronald Reagan. Carter, who labeled Reagan as a dangerous “right-wing extremist” who would cut Social Security and Medicare, only carried six states and the District of Columbia. Reagan used racist dog whistles like “welfare queen” rhetoric to undermine Carter and blasted the federal government as the problem rather than the solution to various social ills in this country. Many later learned that supporters of Reagan allegedly made a deal with Iranian officials to hold the American hostages until after his inauguration to humiliate Carter on the international stage and doom his reelection chances.

According to, the Carters worked for Habitat for Humanity since 1984. They helped build, renovate, and repair 4,390 homes in 14 countries alongside more than 104,000 volunteers.

Fortunately, I shook the hand of President Carter at the Pitt-Greenville Airport in November 1996 when he campaigned for former Charlotte mayor Harvey Gantt, who challenged Senator Jesse Helms in both 1990 and 1996. After Carter said he had a family member in Bertie County, I asked him if he were referring to Windsor. The Secret Service whisked him along the rope line as he, if no mistake, said, “I think so.”

Keith W. Cooper