LEGISLATORS RUDENESS TO COOPER NOMINEES IS ALSO AN INSULT TO VOTERS: The North Carolina General Assembly is infected with a culture of secrecy, special-interest backroom deals and a disrespectful lack of transparency and candor with the state’s citizens. The blame rests squarely with Senate Leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore. They need to cease and desist. Lest anyone doubt it, look no further than the handling of Gov. Roy Cooper’s nominees for the State Board of Education, the state Industrial Commission and a state Superior Court special judgeship. All were eminently qualified. None had a hint of any concerns in their background that would have made them unfit for service. Senate President Phil Berger, following the session told reporters simply: "We're supposed to be more than a rubber stamp." The reality is that without any discussion, that’s what Berger, Moore and the rest of the majority in the General Assembly amount to –simply thoughtless and reflexive.
SOMETIMES JUSTICE REQUIRES BREAKING WITH CIVILITY: When Donald Trump’s press secretary was asked to leave a restaurant because of the president’s policy of breaking up immigrant families, it was seen as a violation of “civility” — treating other citizens with politeness and respect. But what happens when dedication to “civility” is used as a basis for suppressing protest? Is it necessary to insist on good manners in public and private before responding to demands that an unjust social policy be changed? When four black students in Greensboro “sat in” at local lunch counters in 1960 to demand equal treatment, that was the position taken by local leaders. In the Greensboro Daily News, a liberal paper in the relatively moderate state of North Carolina, the editors declared that social protest was incompatible with “civility.” It is ironic that some commentators are using the need to protect “civility” in personal manners as an instrument for opposing protest against government policies. It would be far more relevant to remember Douglass’ words: “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never has, and it never will.”
WE'LL ALL BE PAYING FOR SCOTT PRUITT FOR AGES: Mr. Trump’s willingness to tolerate Mr. Pruitt’s chicanery was not surprising. The two men share an environmental philosophy that may be roughly summarized as “industry over science,” and, for all his flaws, Mr. Pruitt was tireless in the crusade to dismantle environmental protections. His greatest hits include playing a key role in getting Mr. Trump to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement; pushing the repeal of numerous Obama-era regulations, including those to cut greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and automobiles; and instituting a policy that barred scientists who receive federal grants from serving on the E.P.A.’s advisory committees, while simultaneously welcoming corporate representatives onto these panels. Just last month, The Times reported that the E.P.A. had decided for the most part not to consider exposure to chemicals through the air, water or ground when it is evaluating whether they should be regulated or banned under a bipartisan law passed in 2016. In the end, Mr. Pruitt was driven from office for having abused his position so outrageously. But if Mr. Trump continues down the same policy paths, as seems likely, Mr. Pruitt’s more lasting legacy, along with the president’s, will be an overheated planet and shortened life spans.
WHEN TALKING ABOUT THE WHITE-BLACK WEALTH GAP, WE'RE TOO POLITE: During a conversation with Mayor Steve Schewel of Durham and Mayor Knox White of Greenville, S.C., a participant from Pittsburgh issued a challenge: when talking about economic inclusion we risk being too polite. We need to talk about how systemic racism and segregationist policies made this work necessary. America’s long history of racial injustice has contributed to a vast divide in accumulated wealth, and with it a huge disparity of opportunity. The median white family has nearly 10 times the wealth of the median black family in America — $171,000 compared to $17,600, according to the Federal Reserve. A recent report from the Cook Center on Social Equity at Duke University finds that white households with bachelor or post-graduate degrees are more than three times as wealthy as black households with the same degree attainment. Whites owning homes have nearly $140,000 more in net worth than black home-owners. Furthermore, 72 percent of whites own homes while only 42 percent of black households do.
WE SEE RACISM IN OUR PRESIDENT: What we would like to believe is that with Trump, as with many Americans, is that, however inflammatory, his comments are not intended to be racist. He is never one to moderate his feelings, and when you combine that with a modest command of the language, you are left with a tongue that moves much more quickly than the synapses that should direct it. But that is the conciliatory approach. If you are a person of color — and African-Americans and Hispanics polled overwhelmingly said they believe that Trump is a racist, although at a lower level than all Democrats — you don’t grant him that concession. And you have had no doubts. Now the rest of us are starting to see those feelings validated and accept your perceptions. The real fear is these attitudes are playing out in policy. The separation of immigrant families flooding our Southern border is one thing — and the poll said 44 percent believe racism motivates Trump there — but rolling back affirmative action guidelines for college entrance is another. Is there a person of color on his short list for the Supreme Court? That’s to be seen.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
SANDRA BYRD: I'M ONE OF THE STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION NOMINEES THAT GOT REJECTED. THE BASIS OF MY REJECTION IS COMPLETELY FALSE: “GOP lawmakers reject 4 Cooper nominees” (July 1) reported our General Assembly rejected four of Gov. Cooper’s nominees, including two for appointment to the State Board of Education pending since May 2, 2017. I am one of those two nominees. Included in the article were statements attributed to Sen. Chad Barefoot explaining the basis of my nomination’s rejection. Barefoot’s stated rationale was that I had been involved in a lawsuit challenging efforts to shift power from the Board of Education to the Superintendent of public instruction. Barefoot’s statements are completely false. He and others relying on such rationale are misinformed or are knowingly playing fast and loose with the truth. I do not know and have never met the Superintendent of Public Instruction. I have never been involved in any lawsuit challenging the legislature’s effort to shift power from the Board of Education to the superintendent. I met with Barefoot and other members of the Senate Education Committee on Dec. 20, 2017 in Raleigh. When asked about the lawsuit referenced by Barefoot, my lack of participation was directly communicated by me to Barefoot and others present. In my 30 years as an educator, knowledge of constitutional rights, support for the rule of law and truthfulness were cornerstones of my teaching. The genius of our constitutions, state and federal, includes mechanisms for citizens to exercise those rights and utilize those ideals in our daily lives. In 2013, I proudly did so. I joined 24 other educators across N.C. challenging the private school voucher program’s dispatch of public, taxpayer, money to unaccountable private schools in violation to our N.C. Constitution. Perhaps this is what confused Barefoot, or what he chose to ignore. If service on the State Board of Education requires relinquishing constitutional rights, remaining silent in the face of what one believes is improper or being untruthful, someone else should be sought. My goal is to improve the quality education, nothing more and nothing less.
STAN BOZARTH: U.S. IS ON THE WRONG COURSE: President Trump’s ill-advised trade war is coming home to roost. I’m a farmer. Wheat exports during the week of June 21 were 352,836 metric tons this morning. That was 5.75 percent lower than the week prior and down 46.53 percent from the same time last year. Total wheat exports are at just 1.146 million metric tons for the first three weeks of June, down 50 percent from last year. Price per bushel? Down. Soybean exports are dead in the water. As an aside, Mid-Continent Nail in Missouri produces half the nails made in the U.S. They’re going out of business by Labor Day due to the steel tariff pricing them out of the market. Some 500 employees are losing their jobs. The yield on short term T-bills is within sniffing distance of being higher than the yield on long-term bonds, a prime indicator for a recession. MAGA? Really? Trump and the GOP have no idea how to govern. Vote them out!
DEVJANEE SWAIN LENZ: LEGAL IMMIGRATION PATHS ONLY WORK FOR PEOPLE OF PRIVILEGE: I am a product of the American Dream. My parents emigrated from India in the 1970s. They shielded my siblings and me from the overt racism and poverty they were subjected to, which undoubtedly contributed to our success as students and adults. The American Dream is real, but it is only accessible to immigrants of certain ethnicities with wealth and education. Even with those privileges, it has become painfully inefficient to immigrate in a post-9/11 world. It took my white, educated German husband years of business negotiations, visa lotteries and thousands of dollars to move to the U.S. How can anyone expect people running away from war-torn regions to immigrate through these channels when it is improbable for even the most privileged people to do so? Trump has capitalized on a systematic prejudice – legal immigration is for people of privilege and “illegal” immigrants crossing the border are dangerous thugs. Those of us fortunate enough to legally immigrate need to recognize our privilege. We need to recognize that while it wasn’t easy to immigrate, that other people are in worse situations than we or our parents were. We need to stop pitting ourselves against other immigrants, and defend the people without the privilege to remain safely with their families.