Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


BERGER AND THE NC GOP'S DESPERATION TO KEEP POWER: In a cliché-riddled campaign fundraising pitch state Senate leader Phil Berger insulted the non-partisan medical and scientific professionals at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as “Left-Wing bureaucrats playing political games and trying to control Americans lives.” In the email labeled “guidelines to ignore,” he facetiously likened recommendations for protection against the deadly coronavirus to admonitions against eating raw cookie dough. These professionals at the CDC are working desperately to save lives and stem the spread of the deadly virus that has taken more than 13,650 lives in North Carolina and 613,000 nationwide. There is no acceptable rational for anyone, particularly the leader of North Carolina’s state Senate, to urge people to ignore the common-sense advice of the CDC. What the letter did expose is the depths of irresponsibility Berger will go to in an effort to raise money and divide the community merely to seize some potential partisan advantage.

THE GOVERNOR WAS RIGHT TO VETO A DANGEROUS NC ABORTION BILL: Refusing to allow women to end a pregnancy for whatever reason they deem necessary is, in itself, using the power of the state to force women to bear children. Forced pregnancy is hardly democratic and is a gross violation of civil and human rights. More importantly, women and their partners weighing their capacity to parent children with special needs is, in no way, a commentary on the dignity or worth of children with disabilities. Reason bans are the most recent strategy to curtail access to abortion across the country, and they offer meaningful insight into the heart of the problem. The U.S. conversation about abortion has historically been shaped by a justification framework, meaning that women are expected to offer “justifiable” reasons to end their pregnancies. “Reason” bans are the logical result of a justification framework that is rooted in the idea that abortion is morally wrong. The N.C. bill lumps together the nonexistent reasons of sex and race with one particular fetal diagnosis of Down syndrome. The bill is one of many across the country that disguises support for people with Down syndrome in order to actually demonize and stigmatize women for the decisions they make about whether and when to parent. Lawmakers need to uphold Cooper’s veto so that we can move forward with legislation that actually supports women, children and families in North Carolina.

CAWTHORN'S ANTICS DEGRADE CONGRESS, DISRESPECT HIS WESTERN NC CONSTITUENTS: How he’s represented his community and the state in those 210 days? Just read the headlines: Recording Reveals Cawthorn's effort to bring a Gun on a plane. Madison Cawthorn draws ethics complaint after altercation with David McKinley. Swastika tweet deleted after posting by GOP Rep. Madison Cawthorn. Madison Cawthorn, self-described 'big history buff,' keeps getting historical facts wrong. Madison Cawthorn Gives Speech About Facts And Gets Mocked For Inaccuracy. Let’s be clear. Cawthorn, as much as anyone, is responsible for his own selfish and abhorrent behavior. The voters who put him into office should expect and deserve better than a grown-up version of juvenile delinquent. They, too, shoulder some responsibility. But it is a fractured system – the hyper-gerrymandering – that enables and emboldens Cawthorn’s out-of-control antics. There’s no evidence that Cawthorn will somehow adjust this behavior. That is to the detriment of those he represents in the western part of the state and all North Carolinians. He definitely won't stop; he think it makes him a "firebrand," when in reality it just makes him another run-of-the-mill demagogue.

STUDENTS SPEAK OUT ON ANTI-CRT BILL HB-324: KaLa Keaton (Cash Michaels' daughter), a recent Middle Creek graduate attending Yale University in the fall, wondered why such a bill wasn’t passed years earlier to protect students of color enduring racist remarks made by white classmates. “When I first read these words [in HB 324], the first thought I had in my head was which students are at the center of this concern,” Keaton said. “We could have already had an HB 324 when I was in elementary school and a classmate screamed that he hated Black people on the playground.” Keaton listed a series of similar racial incidents she witnessed while attending schools in Wake County. Some of them received substantial media attention. None, however, inspired lawmakers to write a bill to alleviate the discomfort, anguish, or psychological distress students of color experienced, she said. “It’s been going on for years and years and years,” Keaton said. “Oftentimes students are belittled, ignored and gaslighted into believing that they [racial incidents] are not real issues.” Keaton said HB 324 would maintain the status quo. “The status quo is centering white students, white parents and their feelings,” Keaton said. “There’s nothing new. It’s just doubling down on what already occurs in North Carolina’s schools.” Grear Webb, a Sanderson High School graduate now attending UNC-Chapel Hill, noted that North Carolina is a diverse state. “It’s important that we have all of these perspectives and take the histories of all of these people and include them in our daily lives,” Webb said.

THE LOSERS OF JAN 6 ARE TRYING TO SANITIZE THEIR SEDITION: History, the adage goes, is written by the victors. Would that it were true. In the Civil War, the U.S. Army, at a staggering human cost, eventually crushed the traitors who took up arms against their own country. But Lost Cause mythology rewrote the rebellion as a conflict over states’ rights, portrayed Confederates as gallant heroes fighting impossible odds, romanticized plantation life and sanitized slavery. The fictions, taught to generations of southerners, fueled Jim Crow and white supremacy. In the retelling of Jan. 6, we see an echo of Lost Cause mythology. On that terrible day, terrorists took up arms against the United States, sacking the seat of the U.S. government in a deadly rampage. White supremacists marauded through the Capitol. It was a coup attempt, aimed at overturning the will of the people with brute force, encouraged by a defeated president and his allies. The Capitol Police and D.C. Metropolitan Police, badly outnumbered, ultimately prevailed in putting down the insurrection. But now the losers are trying to rewrite the history of that day. The terrorists were “patriots.” Theirs was a “normal tourist visit.” They weren’t armed. They were “hugging and kissing” the police. A woman, shot as she breached the last barrier keeping elected representatives from the mob, was a martyr shot in cold blood. The Capitol Police were ill-trained. It was Nancy Pelosi’s fault. The losers, again, are trying to write the history. They must not be allowed to succeed — for if they do, they will certainly try again to attack democracy. In a speech honoring the heroism of the police, Biden, at one point brushing a tear from his eye, called the attackers what they were. “A mob of extremists and terrorists launched a violent and deadly assault on the People’s House and the sacred ritual to certify a free and fair election,” he said. “It was insurrection … It was unconstitutional. And maybe most important, it was fundamentally un-American.”


LINDSAY MCDAVID: THE "UNMASK OUR CHILDREN" MOVEMENT IS RECKLESS ENDANGERMENT: I’m concerned about Johnston County’s decision to make masks optional in schools, especially with the CDC’s recommendation that masks be mandated in schools for students and staff regardless of vaccination status. That recommendation was based on new data showing the delta variant can infect and be transmitted by vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. This, coupled with Johnston County’s rise in COVID cases, makes Johnston County’s decision irresponsible and dangerous. Since children under 12 will not be vaccinated when schools open, I urge the superintendent and school board to issue a mask mandate.

JUDITH GAMBOA: PROGRESSIVES NEED TO LISTEN MORE THAN TALK: I was pleased to read Ned Barnett’s July 27 analysis of Durham’s political situation because it really sheds light on a problem that so-called progressives, and in particular, white progressives, have failed to address — they’re committing the same old error of talking the talk without walking the walk. I second former Sen. Floyd McKissick’s point. Meaning well doesn’t solve problems if you’re drowning out the voices you claim to support. Although I applaud the gains made in the Triangle since the adoption of a more progressive agenda, I lament seeing progressives silencing voices over anything that does not rigidly conform to their ideology. Our communities need a profound reckoning with this sad fact if we are serious about doing more than talking the talk.

JENNIFER LAWSON: MIND AND BODY ARE EQUALLY IMPORTANT: In reporting about Simone Biles’ withdrawal from Olympic competitions, some journalists said, “There is no injury.” I suspect they mean, “no visible, physical injury.” But there is an injury. Strain to mental health is injurious. It may not carry the names like torn ACL, high ankle sprain, or concussion, but there has been injury. When will we recognize the health and well-being of the whole person? Biles, Naomi Osaka, and Michael Phelps are examples of athletes with the courage to share their stories to raise awareness of mental health concerns. Let us embrace this invitation and open our eyes to what is around us all — injurious mental health crises. N.C. health systems have recognized this and are pleading for help. Children’s Hospital Colorado recently declared a “state of emergency” for youth mental health. So, let us look again, with a lens that sees, understands, cares for, and supports the whole person, mind and body as one.



When passion takes you too far

Last weekend we looked at the value of emotional connections to issues, how they can help with focus and advocacy. But when those emotions get too strong, eliciting anger and sometimes verging on rage, the psychological and even physiological effects can be debilitating.

Those of you who monitor your blood pressure (like me) have likely noticed that it tends to spike when you're pissed off about something, or stressing over a pending encounter with one of life's seemingly ubiquitous challenges (doctor visit, court date). This is one of the obvious negative effects of anger, but it can be deadly if it builds to the point of an outburst; many heart attacks and strokes are triggered by such, so it's important to keep an eye on your level of anger and deal with it, before it deals with you.

But another less obvious effect of anger is the repression of immunoglobulin counts. Your ability to fight diseases can be compromised, especially if you're prone to stew in your own juices (remembering past injustices). While learning from past mistakes can be helpful in current decision-making processes, don't dwell too long there. What's done is done, and you can't hop in your way-back machine and fix things.

But while we're on the subject of past mistakes, let's look at how unchecked anger can facilitate new mistakes, thus giving us something negative to ruminate on at a later date. Anger tends to condense our cognitive focus; sort of a tunnel-vision, if you will. The big picture becomes much smaller, and so we overlook potential side-effects of our decisions.

But Steve, I'd rather do something than nothing!

Why? If this is a problem that has persisted for months (or years), taking a few more hours or days seems like a small price to pay for getting it right. But your anger demands action, even if it's poorly thought-out. That's not logical, or reasonable, it's reactionary. And more often than not, it will fail.

And that failure becomes part of the circle of anger.