published Thursday, November 28th, 2013

Cook: This bird's for you

Earlier this week, some guys from a local radio station named me their 2013 Turkey of the Year, all because of a column I'd written about my relationship with a former gang member in town. Apparently, they thought it fowl.

I know, I know. I was as stunned and surprised as you. Me? A turkey?

Hmm, maybe you shouldn't answer that.

"Is David Cook on drugs?" one reader recently emailed.

Either way, as awards go, this one made me pause. Reflect. Give thanks, even.

For what?

For you.

Sure, it's the season of gratitude, the time of kith and kin. During such misty-eyed days, it takes a strong man not to gush, blubber and blab. Thankfully, I am not that man.

I owe you, dearest reader, a monster-truck-sized thank you. These columns? Nobody forces you to read them. Nobody.

So for the times you do, I say thank you from the bottom of my heart, which some say is a bleeding heart, which others say beats like an emotional preteen's, which brings us to the point of today's column.

It's dedicated to all those who disagree: my critics, God love you.

How easy it is to thank the readers out there who agree with the ideas in this column. (Stop blushing, you two).

But on Thanksgiving, we should widen our table, for the spirit of today is rooted in common ground and the ties that bind. It's a day that brings things together: Pilgrims and Indians, shopping and football, whiskey and 11 o'clock in the morning.

So before we push away from the table with full bellies, let's remember we have plenty of reasons to be thankful for one other. Even the ornery ones who pull our opinions apart like a wishbone. Right now, I'm thinking of several.

"Are you that stupid?" emailed another reader.

I'll go first.

To all those gun-owners out there, thanks. Your dedication to protect our right to shoot, collect, buy, sell and conceal-carry firearms is admirable. I hope my zeal for the First Amendment is as strong as yours is for the Second.

To those who read the Bible in different ways than I do, thank you for reminding me of the importance of spiritual commitment. No one can call you lukewarm. No one can say you are without passion.

To those who consistently warn about the dangers of big government, I'm listening like never before. And so is the NSA. Debt, trade deficits, political discord, a nanny state, it goes on and on. We're stuffed in this country, and for your loud voice condemning government excess, bravo.

To those who believe in the death penalty, I humbly bow. We may disagree, but I am moved by your devotion for what you see as equitable punishment. We should all be so concerned with finding justice for victims of violence.

To those who condemn welfare, thanks for your faith in hard work and the value of an honest day's labor. Sometimes, callouses are worth a thousand words.

To those who mock idealism and criticize me for "tilting at windmills," then bless you. Even though we all need a little tilt in our step, it's important not to turn into Peter Pan, with feet that never touch the ground.

And to those of you who think I spend way too much time writing about gangs, well, your complaints don't fall on deaf ears. But gang violence is perhaps the biggest issue our Reconstructed city faces; the ways we think and speak about it reflect more about who we are than anything else.

If that makes me a turkey, so be it.

Let's then toast to hearty disagreement and the lessons we can learn from one another. Critics are the gizzard in the civic body, the ones who grind up ideas and opinions. Good. It takes all of us to sit around this American table, even if we do make a mess from time to time.

Happy Thanksgiving.

And if you happen to need any extra turkey, I know where one lives.

Contact David Cook at or 423-757-6329. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter at DavidCookTFP.

about David Cook...

David Cook is the award-winning city columnist for the Times Free Press, working in the same building where he began his post-college career as a sportswriter for the Chattanooga Free Press. Cook, who graduated from Red Bank High, holds a master's degree in Peace and Justice Studies from Prescott College and an English degree from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. For 12 years, he was a teacher at the middle, high school and university ...

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soakya said...

Since we're giving thanks let me thank you David and not only you but all the progressives that have a platform to spread their message.

You, Chris Matthews, Rachel Maddow, Ed Shultz and the rest of the MSNBC crew remind us conservatives on a daily basis why we choose not to be progressives.

So thank you David for putting your pen to paper, so to speak, and never stop utilizing that 1st amendment right. you will never know how much you encourage us.

almost forgot, congrats on the turkey award, you earned it. if you got a ribbon for that you should put it in your trophy room right next to your Obama, Pelosi, and Reid collector plates.

November 28, 2013 at 1:04 a.m.
charivara said...

And precisely why do you choose to be a conservative? Do remind us.

November 28, 2013 at 12:39 p.m.
Rickaroo said...

I suppose there is something to be said for trying to paint a picture of roses when in actuality there is little more than a vase of thistles and thorns in front of us. But I will leave it to the compunctions of this journalist to paint that picture as he sees fit. Indeed there is much that most of us should be thankful for and it is good that we take the time to pause and reflect upon it. But I for one am not going to pretend that I am in any way thankful for the small mindedness, the mean-spiritedness, the arrogance, the elitism, and the outright hatred that is at the root of today's conservatives who are on a vicious campaign to transform America into a dystopian society of HAVES vs. HAVE-NOTS, and who have taken the glorification of greed to new and disturbing levels. I AM thankful for every voice that is not afraid to speak the truth and for every person who fights the good fight against the status quo of corruption and unbridled wealth and power of those whose only interest is attaining more wealth and more power for their own sake.

November 28, 2013 at 1:19 p.m.
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