DON'T PERMIT NC TO BECOME A SAFE-ZONE FOR BIGOTRY: The pictures of a torch light procession, with marchers on the University of Virginia campus chanting racist and anti-Semitic slogans were all too reflective of horrific images out of fascist nations 70 years ago. Legislators should review recently passed laws, such as the so-called “Campus Free Speech Act" to be sure they haven’t inadvertently turned University of North Carolina campuses into safe zones for bigotry and potential violence. Freedom of expression is particularly integral to the learning mission of our universities and the appropriate presentation and discussion of controversial and unpopular ideas is critical to a good education. However, unfettered access to campuses by violent radicals while simultaneously institutionalizing punishments for those who challenge hateful acts is not what is intended in the law. It must be reviewed before it is too late.
NOT-SO-SILENT SAM: What would Silent Sam say, if he could speak? Probably something similar to the vitriol spewed by Confederate veteran Julian Carr, the Durham businessman for whom Carrboro is named, who spoke at Silent Sam’s dedication in 1913, smugly recalling his public whipping of a young black woman accused of insubordination toward her white superiors. Fact is, Silent Sam has never been silent. His very presence embodies the stubborn refusal of Confederate hard-liners to admit the deliberate evil of their miscalculated slavery defense. Silent Sam shouts to every passerby, “I will not confess my complicity in the sinfulness of slavery. I do not admit guilt. I will never ask forgiveness.” If we truly want God to heal our land, a good place to start would be the orderly and peaceful removal of Silent Sam from our beloved campus where, as an undergraduate, I wandered beneath his shadow, unmindful of the suffering endured by all those denied freedom’s dignity during the cruel regime this statue venerates.
CHARLOTTESVILLE DIDN'T SPRING FROM NOWHERE: But without question, the most repugnant contribution to this new dawn of white supremacy comes from the Republican Party. It has called to these people, invited these people, for decades. It has done so overtly, with laws and statements demonizing LGBTQ people, Muslims, and immigrants. Republicans have also employed so-called “dog whistle” politics, coded words, policies and imagery that preserve deniability while speaking with implicit clarity to white racial and cultural fears. From the Willie Horton ad that helped George H.W. Bush become president to the suggestive white woman ad that helped sink a black candidate’s Senate bid in Tennessee, from photo ID voter suppression to birther conspiracies, from Newt Gingrich condemning a “food stamp president” to Paul Ryan’s complaining about “a tailspin of culture in our inner cities,” the GOP has seldom missed a chance to lay out the welcome mat for white supremacists.
BARCELONA AND CHARLOTTESVILLE ARE BAD OMENS FOR BILLS ALLOWING DRIVERS TO PASS THROUGH PROTESTERS: As far as we know, the alleged killer in Charlottesville didn’t get instructions from the Islamic State. As far as we know, he didn’t even receive marching orders from any of the neo-Nazi groups with which he sympathized. But he also didn’t need to turn to either of these factions for inspiration. He could just have easily have gotten the idea from a Republican state legislature. This year, Republican lawmakers in at least six states have proposed bills designed to protect drivers who strike protesters. The first bill was introduced in North Dakota in January, and similar bills have since come under consideration in North Carolina, Tennessee, Florida, Texas and Rhode Island. I wonder: Did the Republican politicians and pundits who backed these measures believe too few protesters were getting hit by cars? If not, what did they think would happen when they encouraged drivers to use their vehicles as a weapon against the public? Because that’s exactly what these bills do.
VALUE THE ZEAL OF LEGAL AID LAWYERS: Weeks after the budget was passed and rammed into law over the veto of Gov. Roy Cooper, Moore told reporters: “There were examples being brought to a number of us, where for example you had a ‘mom and pop’ who were landlords in a lease and where they were coming in and getting served with discovery and all these things and a lot of frivolous motions.” Moore then left it to his press aide, Joseph Kyzer, to refuse to provide any details of the supposed complaints. “It wouldn't be appropriate for our office to comment about actual cases,” Kyzer said. Say what? A huge budget cut and then the Speaker’s office stonewalls the public about the reasoning? Given what has been done to the legal aid lawyers’ budget, the budget of the state Department of Justice and efforts to curtail the University of North Carolina Law School’s Civil Rights Center – just to point to a few examples – we all might need a reality check about what seems to really make the wheels turn at the legislature.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
LYNN MITCHELL KOHN: ATLANTIC COAST PIPELINE DAMAGES BOTH ENVIRONMENT AND ECONOMY: The ACP could adversely affect water quality even before it is operational during the disruptive, even violent installation process. Trenching, horizontal drilling and blasting could result in the degradation of water quality with consequences for swimming, boating and commercial fishing. Because the pipeline crosses so many watersheds, the safety of drinking water supplies could be imperiled. It is not surprising that opposition comes from residents worried about the line’s effect on their farms and other businesses and indignant that land in the path of the ACP could be condemned and seized through eminent domain. Given the risks to nearby residents, the burden of proof should be on the pipeline’s supporters to show that this project is even necessary. It is ironic that opponents of the ACP are dismissed as “radicals” and “agitators” when they are the real conservatives, trying to keep their property and businesses and preserve natural resources for future generations.
TODD BERLINER: WHY NEO-NAZIS WANT CONFEDERATE MONUMENTS: When people say they want to retain our Confederate monuments purely because they commemorate Southern heritage, and not because they represent white supremacy, we have to ask ourselves an important question: Then why do so many neo-Nazis and White Supremacists care so much about retaining these monuments? It’s hard to believe that neo-Nazis and White Supremacists are such ardent preservationists that they can’t bear to see any part of Southern heritage destroyed. They want to retain these particular historical markers because they celebrate a time when white people ruled the South through slavery. Wilmington’s own monument “To the Soldiers of the Confederacy” stands unchallenged at Third and Dock, imposing, majestic, and disgraceful. Our city should, at the very least, erect markers and monuments that contest the nobility of the Southern cause and tell a more complete history of the Confederacy’s brutal campaign for slavery.
JOHN DIVERS: TRUMP'S THREAT OF "FIRE AND FURY" FOR NORTH KOREA MINDLESS: “Fire and fury like the world has never seen” is the mindless threat of our president, who reveals with every tweet that he is utterly unqualified by temperament and intellect to lead America. To know about the devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and how close the world came in the Cuban missile crisis to nuclear war would caution any other politician to avoid such incendiary language. Added to “man’s inhumanity to man” in all its forms is man’s recklessness shown in the refusal of the nations to deal with the threat of nuclear extermination. A statesman in the White House is needed to confront international affairs.