Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


GLADYS ROBINSON ON THE FOLLY OF ANTI-ANTI-RACISM: And if you don't want to teach anti-racism, what are we teaching? We ought to be teaching anti-racism. Because the concept is that you are no better than me. And our Children have to learn that because we messed up. We've screwed this place up, to make little children who see the hearts of teachers who care about them rather than their skin color. They see teachers who care about them. These teachers aren't indoctrinating them. That's a bunch of political lies. Even the News & Observer and The Charlotte Observer says there is no fact to what the lieutenant governor says. He can't document it. These children don't have healthcare. Yet in this budget you refused to fund what Leandro demands. You refuse to give them health professionals, counselors, nurses. Give them the resources, build the buildings. All the kids don't go to air-conditioned buildings. Let's build the facilities, let's do what we're here to do. The General Assembly is supposed to be the great equalizer, the entity that pulls up the poorer school districts to give them parity with wealthy ones. It most certainly is not supposed to perpetuate White Supremacist beliefs.

MARK ROBINSON'S 'INDOCTRINATION' REPORT IS A LOAD OF BULLSHIT: You could take the time to read through Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson's 831-page report published yesterday by his anti-liberal indoctrination task force, "F.A.C.T.S.," or I could save you the trouble: it's a load of bullshit. The report, if you can even call it that, is comprised of about 500 submissions from members of the public detailing perceived instances of liberal brainwashing in public schools, most of which have to do with things like parents being mad that their kid's teacher wore a BLM shirt on their Bitmoji during virtual school or assignments that have kids reading propaganda from extreme leftist outlets like CNN. The report's findings were a forgone conclusion given Robison's need to drum up controversy—see critical race theory—for his base in time for 2022. Robinson found "indoctrination"—which the report itself does not define but can be deduced to mean "anything in a school smelling remotely liberal that pissed me off"—"in every region of North Carolina." These submissions, all 506 of them, were taken at face value with no follow-up investigations as support that "indoctrination" is somehow the biggest crisis befalling North Carolina public schools and not, you know, underfunding, the pandemic, or crumbling infrastructure. I'm sorry, Mr. Robinson, but that's not how "facts" work. You don't just say something is a problem, ask folks on the internet if it's a problem, and then publish what they say as proof that you're right. This report is as devoid of facts as Robinson's head. It belongs in a dumpster, along with every campaign sign for Robinson 2024.

RURAL NC COUNTIES ARE SHRINKING. REPUBLICAN POLICIES AREN'T HELPING AT ALL: Republicans have hurt the very people who elected them. Consider what the majority has done: Blocked Medicaid expansion for seven years. That has left hundreds of thousands of working poor without medical insurance and denied the state billions of dollars in federal aid. The impact has fallen hardest on rural hospitals. Since 2010, five of North Carolina’s 50 rural hospitals have closed and another nine are considered at risk of closing, according to a report from the Chartis Center for Rural Health. Slowed spending on public schools. Public schools are the main employer in 59 counties. Starving them for operating and capital funds stymies the local economy. Urban counties have raised property taxes to compensate. Rural counties don’t have the tax base to do that. Cut income taxes in ways that give the biggest breaks to large corporations and higher earners. The reductions mostly benefit white-collar urban workers even as they reduce the state’s ability to invest in rural areas. Bungled broadband expansion. In 2011, the legislature, kowtowing to telecommunications companies, blocked municipalities from operating their own broadband networks. Ten years later, access to high-speed internet – an essential tool for businesses, remote work, virtual schooling and telemedicine – is still unavailable or of poor quality in much of rural North Carolina. Targeted undocumented immigrants. Hispanic immigrants are a key part of the rural workforce in meatpacking and agriculture and their share of the rural population is growing. And if you add Trump's Trade War on top of that, which saw farmers unable to sell their crops for export, it's as close to a perfect storm as you can get.

BIDEN MADE THE HARD CHOICE IN AFGHANISTAN, AND THE RIGHT ONE: Before serving in Congress, I was an infantry platoon commander in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province. In the summer of 2012, we patrolled three Taliban-contested villages on the Helmand River. On each patrol I would visit a tribal elder. They would serve me hot, sweet goat-milk tea. I would sip it in the 100-degree heat and smile politely. They would listen to me talk about the American mission and smile politely. Neither side could stomach it. These Pashtun elders, veterans of the Soviet invasion and the civil war, were in a familiar bind. Taliban to their south, Americans to their north. Taliban conscripting their sons to plant IEDs; Americans demanding to know who planted them. My platoon and I were there for a summer, but the villagers would live with their decisions. One elder conveyed their wariness in an often-used expression: “You have the watches, but they have the time.” The Taliban could not outfight Americans, but it could outlast us, because we had no political endgame. What began as a counterterrorism mission — to bring to justice the architects of 9/11 and deny terrorists a base of operations in Afghanistan — mutated under President George W. Bush into a counterinsurgency and a boondoggle. By the time the two-trillion-dollar effort reached President Biden’s desk, he faced a stark choice: go big or go home. He could surge U.S. troops ahead of the summer fighting season or he could fully hand over Afghanistan to the Afghans. The status quo of a small military footprint was not an option. Leaving a couple thousand troops would break President Donald Trump’s deal with the Taliban. The troops would require substantial reinforcements to battle the Taliban, which was at peak post-9/11 strength. The United States would be starting a third decade of warfare, still with no political endgame. Biden made the right decision. There’s no glory in it, but there is integrity. I endorse this message.

AS A REFUGEE, I WANT AMERICA TO OPEN ITS ARMS TO THOSE FLEEING AFGHANISTAN: As I heard the news out of Afghanistan—the families scrambling to get on American planes, or the thousands of requests for assistance pouring into my office—I was taken instantly back to my childhood. I remembered sitting in a refugee camp in Kenya when I was about 10 years old and overhearing my father and grandfather discuss how we were going to get out. "Only in America can you ultimately become an American," my grandfather said. "Everywhere else we will always feel like a guest." He was right. I was lucky to become an American, not a guest, and ultimately represent my new home of Minnesota in the halls of Congress. But right now there are thousands of Afghans, many of whom risked their lives to help the United States, who are wondering if they will have that same opportunity to make new lives here. My family escaped civil war in Somalia when I was just eight years old, but life in the refugee camp was scarcely better. Every week, someone I knew died. Relatives of mine—a family of six—lost both parents in the span of two weeks. My aunts, uncles, cousins and siblings all contracted malaria. It was our family's faith in humanity that ultimately saved my life. After nearly four years of survival in a refugee camp, and over a year of intense vetting by the United Nations and the United States, we finally got a golden ticket to come to America. I wouldn't be here today, raising my children in comfort without the generosity of the Kenyan people, the tireless efforts of UN workers and the welcoming spirit of the American people who gave me and my family a second chance at life. Ilhan's story is one that should give us hope and make us proud, but Conservatives can only see a Black Muslim troublemaker. They need to grow up.


KELLY MORRIS ROBERTS: IT'S ABOUT RACIAL LITERACY, NOT INDOCTRINATION: Let’s be clear about what is and is not going on in N.C. schools. As a teacher, I see it daily. Students are not being “indoctrinated” in Critical Race Theory in the way Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson and Sen. Phil Berger describe. What’s happening is that teachers are discussing racial literacy. Discussing is different from indoctrinating. As Princeton University’s Dr. Ruha Benjamin puts it, “Racial literacy is not about acquiring the words to ‘have a conversation on race...’ Racial literacy is developing a historical and sociological tool kit to understand how we got here and how it could have been/can be otherwise.” We hope kids increase their consciousness toward race. We hope they understand the systemic and consistent ways that racism operates and is perpetuated. If anyone has a problem with those two aims, well, let’s just say that the problem isn’t CRT. Those who don't/can't grasp the need for CRT are themselves proving the need for CRT.

GERALDINE RICHARDS: WHY ARE WE STILL FUNDING ANTI-CHOICE PREGNANCY CENTERS? Why do the proposed state House and Senate budgets contain millions for crisis pregnancy centers? CPCs don’t act in the interest of the majority of N.C. women. They are private, often religious based, organizations whose goal is to undermine a woman’s reproductive rights. They are not staffed by medical professionals. They use scare tactics to dissuade women from exercising their right to choose to end a pregnancy. They appear to be community organizations, but are often part of a national network that is profiting from use of state taxpayer dollars. All funding for CPCs should be removed from the proposed budget. If N.C. lawmakers want to help women and families, they should fully support expansion of Medicaid and make it possible for all women to access the full range of options for reproductive health through telemedicine. Not to mention, the expansion of Medicaid would cost next to nothing for the state, while these "crisis" pregnancy centers are a complete waste of money. So much for Republicans being efficient "stewards" of state revenues.

KRISTIN BAKER: NC'S CHILD CARE CRISIS NEEDS TO BE ADDRESSED: Our elected leaders must do everything in their power to end America’s child care crisis. If we look at current policies, it’s obvious that child care is not a priority. Families are left to figure it out on their own, which, in the past 18 months has led women to leave the workforce, causing businesses to suffer. I have relatives who have two small children. He works for a nonprofit. She is a nurse at Duke. The pandemic has been hellish for them as they struggle with thousands a month in child care costs and the constant pivots required each time one of their kids has a runny nose. It has caused my sister-in-law to wonder whether she should quit nursing. The last thing we need in this country right now is fewer nurses. I know that when America decides something is a common good, we find the funding. We need a child care system that meets the needs of children, families, communities and child care providers. The days of a one income family are over. Both parents need to work in order to get and stay ahead of the cost of living, but child care is unbelievably expensive these days. It costs over $1,200 per month for my Grandson Jack's day care, more than many mortgage payments. Republicans should be all over this, but what do we get? Crickets.



The wrong place at the wrong time

When Ilhan was just a little squirt, about five years before the civil war erupted, I was part of the effort to support the forces of dictator Siad Barre. His main nemesis at the time was Ethiopia, which still remained loyal to the Soviets after Barre had cut ties with them a few years previously. To say, "It was a mess" is a huge understatement. Barre's military junta ruled with an iron fist even after our "friendship" began, and Mogadishu was a ghost town after dark due to the harshly-enforced curfew.

In retrospect, I see now that civil war was inevitable, and our tacit approval of his reign exposed the lie of our "spreading democracy" excuse for continually engaging in proxy wars with the Soviet Union. But at the time things were more simple for soldiers like me, there were bad guys and good guys, and we were helping the good guy. Or the less bad guy...

Anyway, Ethiopia had begun to incite and supply insurgent groups inside Somalia, and Barre's troops were doing what they could to shut off those supplies at the border. And we were assisting them.

Shortly after our aircraft gained altitude, we were above the Red Sea, in the relatively safe international air space. But the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, so pretty soon I noticed a couple Air Force guys strapping in. This is never a good sign, so I did the same. Flying under the radar is always a bumpy ride, but when you have an aircraft that can do nape of the Earth automatically, follow the contours of the ground almost perfectly, you've got a ride that Carowinds wouldn't even dream of setting up. I can't adequately describe it, but that turbulence you occasionally hit when you're flying somewhere? Multiply that by 20 and you're almost there.

Once we cleared the mountains things settled down quite a bit, and I was relieved to see the Air Force guys unstrap and go about their business. Believe it or not, I slept, and tried not to think of the MIG 21s patrolling Ethiopian air space. But I snapped awake with every bump and bonk, so it wasn't what I would describe as "restful."

And then I noticed the Air Force guys strapping in again, with a much different look on their faces than before.

That difference drove me to stand up and look out one of the few "portal" windows available, and there was a light show going on not far below us. Tracers, actually, a border firefight. Understand, we could have recorded that shit clearly and accurately from a couple miles away. But no. Best to fly right over it so as not to miss anything.

And then the tracers started arcing up, and the thumps began.

Have you ever experienced two radically different thought patterns at the same time? One part of my brain was like, "holyshitflyfasterflyfaster", while another part of my brain mused, "Isn't it ironic that both sides think we're the bad guy?" And both sides of my brain quickly agreed that being sneaky has its drawbacks. And then I saw a bright white flash barely miss our left wing (also ironic), and decided it was time for Steve to sit his ass down and strap in. Although we were flying low enough that the surface-to-air missile hadn't gone into heat-seeking mode yet, that was way too close for comfort.

The moral of the story is, wear your damn seatbelt.