Should Progressives reach out to the "angry white bigot" element?

The Magic 8-ball sez, "Say what?":

Our editorial last Sunday praised the Moral March in Raleigh as an effort by engaged citizens to show that there is broad and deep discontent. That brought a letter from a reader that is distinctive for its sweep and its summary of the raw conservative grievances against those protesting.

Gay rights? I personally don’t condone homosexuality, I guess due to my Baptist upbringing. I do oppose same-sex marriage. I think the decline in morals will be the downfall of our country. I am entitled to my belief as much as all these protesters. What [annoys] people like me is that these protesters act as though I have to like and condone their views. I can’t be entitled to my view anymore.

Both you and Ned Barnett need to understand something: your opinion about how somebody else should live their life is not at the same level as that person's right to live their life as they see fit. Same-sex marriage has no impact on your life, no matter how many demons your twisted mind might create. And as for the author himself, you need a lesson in false equivalency:

One issue here, as always, is race. It’s the subtext to much of our current polarization. The writer would have blacks “get over it.” But it’s not over. The Civil War was the start of the civil rights struggle, not the end. No one wants to be called racist, and people are almost universally sensitized to the wrongness of prejudice, but most people nonetheless do make prejudgments based on race. It may be a condition only time and exposure can change, but it would help if progressives also showed an awareness of white, working-class complaints about unfairness. It turns out that white guys in pickup trucks are subject to prejudgments, too.

The same goes for tolerance. That also means tolerating those who find the shift toward accepting gay marriage hard to reconcile with their experience and their religious views.

For the last fricking time, not tolerating intolerance is not in itself intolerance. This bigot's opinion is not "academic" in nature, it has already been put into action by amending our state's Constitution to codify bigotry into the document by which we are governed.

And you would have us try to make room for such hatred in our Progressive ranks? Aside from compromising our own views in doing so, we would also be administering a stinging slap in the face to our LGBT friends in the process. Ain't gonna happen. Angry white bigot is just going to have to remain where he is, stewing in his own hateful juices.


I was raised Southern Baptist and gay marriage is fine by me

The letter writer also takes a swipe at fiscal shape of NC during Democratic rule. The numbers don't lie - NC Democrats kept NC among the best financially managed states in the country.

NC Democrats had their faults, but fiscal stewardship and management of the state's finances was not one of them.

In three short years, the NCGOP has taken the state's finances down the path toward financial ruin.


Yeah, me too.

We should start a recovery group...

Heh. "Hi, my name is Steve,

and I was raised in the loving arms of a blue-eyed, white-skinned Jesus that never existed. And we sang songs in Sunday school about marching off to a war that I wasn't aware was being waged, and my hand got smacked when I tried to remove a couple of one dollar bills from the plate that floated past me. Apparently God needs money so that he can continue doing absolutely nothing. I, on the other hand, would have purchased a balsa wood airplane with said two dollars so I could learn more about aerodynamics. If it wasn't for church, I might actually be a pilot now."

Just to add some color

Here are some photos of LGBT participation at the HKonJ Moral March from this and previous years:

Now he feels his government is besieged by minorities seeking something for nothing

Read more here:

How does he feel besieged by the people in these photos? What harm would have been done to him if amendment 1 had failed? What would have been taken from him by undeserving minorities? I know people who were emotionally damaged and even physically damaged (a friend who was in a car wreck) while trying to fight against amendment one.

The same goes for tolerance. That also means tolerating those who find the shift toward accepting gay marriage

Read more here:

That isn't asking for tolerance, that's asking for silence in the face of discrimination. That's asking the oppressed not to speak out because it makes the oppressor uncomfortable. That's an awfully funny way to use the word tolerance.

In defense of Progressive blogs and James

I have been reading and thinking about political communication a lot lately due to the NC Democratic Party's recent controversy and my preparation for a session on Blogging I will present on Thursday at NCSU's lifelong learning Program. I personally was offended by Ned Barnett's column. He is either pandering to what the N&O's editors perceive as a segment of its readership, or he lacks a serious thinker's discernment.

I say "amen" to what James wrote today.

I also want to point out that I, as a frequent BlueNC blogger, have received a lot of criticism from fellow Progressives, who view what I wrote recently as attacks on the Democratic Party and Randy Voller. Let me remind Barnett and BlueNC reader critics that James Protzman foots the bill for keeping this forum available to us in NC as a place for free and open debate. James has a real paying job, and yet he devotes a lot of personal time to this blog.

James does not accept advertising, as the News and Observer does and that makes a difference, whether the N&O and other mainstream media admit it.. BlueNC has its role and the N&O has its, and they are different. As the old French phrase goes, "Viva la difference."

Finally, as I pointed out in phone calls with several Democratic party leaders, who refused to talk for the record, but carped about what I wrote: we don't pick and choose contributors to BlueNC as the N&O does for its guest columns and op ed pieces. So, if you have ideas, whether suggestions or complaints, put them in writing here, so that you can test their viability in the marketplace of ideas.

Martha Brock

Barnett's paper could do a whole lot better...

explaning things, too. He insinuates that movement leaders aren't getting their messages across. Maybe he and his writing staff could find the balls to be less ambiguous when it comes to reporting on the direction in which Art Pope and his money is leading us.


"Let's not be too rough on our own ignorance; it's what makes America great!" - Frank Zappa (6/29/1988)

Great progressive failure

That progressives have not been able to reach people like this letter-writer is a great failure and a great riddle.

Read more here:

In a post-Citizens United world full of Kochs and Popes, blaming progressives in the state for not being able to win the messaging war against corporate interests with this individual hardly seems fair, it seems like blaming the victim.

Education, the environment, health care, unemployment, and equal rights are under attack. Never has the conservative leadership in our state more starkly stood for an agenda that does not favor the working class.

The left generally speaking has to rely more on people power than money power. So maybe we have to march to get earned media to get our message out and get people thinking about the issues. Whether this fellow's mind has been changed or not, clearly he's heard about Moral Mondays and clearly he's thinking about it.

So I think this article is putting the cart before the horse. We don't have to and shouldn't wait on winning this guy over before we march. We march and hopefully we get people thinking and we build on that to win people over.


Our message has been diverse and well-explained. If somebody doesn't agree with it, it doesn't necessarily follow that we're "missing" something in that message, or that said message needs to be altered to suit that somebody.


I'm actually kind of torn on this. On the one hand, the difference between what the General Assembly stands for and what the Forward Together Moral Movement stands for is as clear as it could be.

On the other hand, you can sort of see where they are coming from. Maybe you're used to being able to marry, while barring others from doing so. Maybe you're used to having people immigrate here that look like you do, like your ancestors did, but barring others from doing so. Maybe you're used to having a say over women's bodies, but barring them from doing so. Maybe you're used to a system full of subtle acts of racism that privilege you, but not others. Maybe you're used to that as the background of every day life and not as something you have to think about.

With all that slowly slipping away, even if it's just a move towards equality under the law, even if it's just equality of opportunity, even if no one is taking money out of your pocket, you can see how they might feel threatened when people make them think about it. And when you combine that sense of being threatened with having power and privilege in this system, that is something that we can't ignore either.

Thanks, Jake

Extremely well stated.

Martha Brock

There's a lot to think about in this post.

My experience has been that it's useless to (and I hate this phrase) "reach out" to any confirmed "conservative." Trying to talk with them is like rasslin' the tarbaby. 1) No matter what we say, they "listen" only for the opportunity of rebuttal. They do not listen to understand or to consider the facts. 2) I disagree that the progressive message has been well explained...perhaps because it's so diverse. We need to pick two-three rock-solid topics and hammer them home...and then expand and show how these issues are interelated with the overall demise of the middle class and our public institutions. My first choice would be economic issues. Equal pay for women, the unfairness of the tax code favoring the ultra-wealthy, increasing minimum wage and the benefit to our economy of "all boats rising."
Talk about how every tax dollar we "give" to help the poor is less than half of what we give in tax subsidies to the rich. All this can be supported by fact.

Maybe once we had their attention on a few concrete issues, we could wander off into a discussion of religious freedom versus civil rights and human dignity...maybe. I think organized religion is, if not the root of much evil, darned close to it. Although, the new Pope offers some hope for sanity. But...I digress....

We need to go after independent voters and democrats and get them to listen and to vote and to complain about the legalized criminality and inhumanity of many current day politicians.

Stan Bozarth

Messaging for a gut decision.

There are a lot of decisions in our lives that are made from the gut, not from the head. Whether we use our head or our gut can depend upon a lot of variables, such as life experiences, training, interest level in the topic at hand, or even just how much time we have at that moment. Each of us, on occasion, makes a gut decision. Some do it when they vote.

Liberals are good at offering what we see as options for the future in rational, reasonable terms. We are not good at reaching for the gut. If liberal ideas are truly the best ones, then they can tolerate being translated into language that can reach people on an emotional level.

Barnett's trolling you

What really strikes me about this letter is how it sums up all the talking points of the extremist conservatives.

He touts voter ID as being popular while neglecting to mention that citizens don't support the results - disenfranchising older family members or neighbors or their kids in college.

Gays as a moral scourge? Check.

Anyone who speaks up about inequality is a racist? Check.

Bringing radicals from outside the state to agitate? Check.

The Democrats ruined the economy and budget and want people to be dependent on government. Check.

I did everything on my own and everyone else should too. Double check.

Barnett is presenting this letter as if it represents an "average" North Carolina voter. I'm going out on a limb here, but I'm willing to bet that this anonymous letter is a fake.

The News and Observer gets comments and letters like this from the right-wing fringe everyday - just look through comments on their various stories. Why single out this particular anonymous letter to highlight in the paper when Barnett could have pointed to others, with authors attributed, to make his point?

This unsigned letter might not be from a "typical" reader of the paper at all - for all we or Barnett know, it could be from a Republican politician, staff member or consultant, made to appear to be from a random citizen.

It's generally accepted ethical practice at newspapers to not print anonymous letters to the editor, partly for legal reasons - newspapers can be legally liable for what they print and can receive false or misleading material. This column even goes against the N&O's own policy for letters to the editor.

The real reason is that Barnett's not asking the left to "reach out" to "average" NC voters, he's trying to convince us that "average" NC voters think like this. They don't.

Part of the Republican strategy is to promulgate the belief that there's some great "silent majority" out there that buys into the whole Tea Bagger agenda. The reality is that probably 30% of NC voters hold all the views of the writer of this supposed letter. If this represented the views of an "average" NC voter, how did Obama or Kay Hagan get elected?

Barnett's being a troll here. He's wanting liberals to an "average" NC voter that, in reality, only exists in small numbers.

The N&O's editors really fell down on the job on this one - printing an anonymous letter to the editor and using as a basis for commentary is a big ethical breach.

Republicans in the state are using "dark money" from obscure political action committees and foundations to mislead voters, with no clear information on who is paying for the ads. Republicans have hired operatives to post to news outlet forums.

Why should the N&O take any anonymous letter at face value? Why should we?

Great points

I smell a troll.

More thoughts

I can't really get a read on any personal politics or bias on Barnett's part, based on his columns in the N&O. If he's sincere, it's really a bone-headed point to make and a terrible way to do it in the context of a major state daily paper.

Yeah, he's pretty harsh

towards the activities of NCGA Republicans in the piece. The article has the flavor of Barnett trying to help Progressives reach out to a wider audience, but you know the old adage, "with friends like that..."