Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


HEALTH CARE EXEC'S FIERY TONE SPOTLIGHTS LEGIT FRUSTRATION: It would be easy to dismiss the intemperate letter from a Greensboro-based Cone Health official to State Treasurer Dale Folwell and members of the State Health Plan Trustees as just a hot-head popping off. But it is more than that. Why would someone with the stature of Frank Kauder, assistant director of finance for Cone Health, write such a letter – inappropriate as it was? It was exasperation and immense frustration. He is not alone. His vexation is shared by both the health care community and North Carolina citizens. They see an attack on the state’s health care system that will tear it down, not improve quality, expand access to services or make them more affordable. He worries that the financial future of Cone healthcare -- and therefore its ability to serve the needs of its community -- is being jeopardized.

SMALL ACTS OF PREJUDICE DO BIG DAMAGE: I recognize a scale of intent from poorly worded or ill-informed to deliberately crafted and malicious. Paper cut or stab wound, they all do some degree of damage. My life has been marked by privilege. I have yet to bleed out, but the slashing of the last two-plus years has neared the bone. And still no single act I’ve endured equals being told to go back where I came from, as if that were anywhere but here. Continually vilifying and mistreating people based on the color of their skin or country of origin is racist. It is not racially tinged. It is not racialized language. It is not being racially insensitive. It isn’t shoring up the electoral base or distracting from other political problems. It’s not strategy. It is racist. There is no tough call to be made. There were not good people on both sides. Pretending it didn’t happen or explaining it away normalizes it. But it did happen, there is no acceptable explanation, and it should never be normal.

WOULD TRUMP TELL WHITE CONGRESSMEN,"GO BACK WHERE YOU CAME FROM"?: The U.S. House was right to pass a resolution “condemning President Trump’s racist comments directed at members of Congress.” North Carolina’s Republicans should have joined Democratic Reps. Alma Adams, GK Butterfield, and David Price to support it. It’s hard to figure out what universe Sen. Thom Tillis might be in given his defense of Trump’s remarks. “The president’s not a racist, he’s not a xenophobe. He’s the son of an immigrant, he’s the husband of an immigrant. And people are trying to mischaracterize him,” said Tillis, who is seeking re-election and won Trump’s endorsement. Tillis seems to deny the obvious. Democrat Price won’t have any of it. “Give me a break, this is extreme stuff. A few Republicans have begun to denounce it, but they ought to denounce it in a full-throated way. We all ought to. This is just not acceptable.” Real Americans who are concerned about their country speak up and speak out. They share their ideas, put them and themselves in the public arena. The silence from North Carolina’s congressional Republicans speaks volumes.

WHY REPUBLICANS CAN'T BREAK FREE FROM WHITE NATIONALISM: As you watch Republican lawmakers run the other way when asked about Trump’s latest racist comments, remember that they are caught in a dilemma. They know that they had a long-term problem before Trump, and he has made it worse. How would you like to try to convince minority voters that the GOP welcomes them? But they also know that their constituents are the very people who put Trump in the White House. Those voters don’t just tolerate Trump’s racism, they cheer it. Those Republicans also know that their power is built on a series of structural factors — the Electoral College, the fact that the Senate gives the same two votes to Wyoming’s 577,000 voters (84% white) as it does to California’s 39.6 million (only 37% white), a more advantageous distribution of voters across congressional districts — that enable them to hold power even when they lose. In the short and medium term, this strategy — appeal only to white voters, keep them as threatened and angry about increasing diversity as possible, and rig the system to give their votes more weight — is extraordinarily effective, morally abhorrent though it might be.

DEFENDERS OF A RACIST PRESIDENT USE JEWS AS HUMAN SHIELDS: Such Christian appropriation of the fight against anti-Semitism reached its grim nadir this week. As Trump’s racist invective against Ilhan Omar and three other freshman Democratic congresswomen has dominated the news, the president’s defenders have used Jews as human shields, pretending that hatred of the quartet is rooted in abhorrence of anti-Semitism. On Tuesday, an evangelical outfit called Proclaiming Justice to the Nations accused the Anti-Defamation League — the Anti-Defamation League! — of siding with anti-Semites after the ADL called out Trump’s racism. The group even had the audacity to hurl a Hebrew denunciation — “lashon hara,” or “evil tongue” — at the Jewish civil rights organization. Republicans are only a short step away from such shamelessness when they try to deflect from the president’s racism by accusing his foes of anti-Semitism. “Montanans are sick and tired of listening to anti-American, anti-Semite, radical Democrats trash our country and our ideals,” Senator Steve Daines of Montana tweeted on Monday, proclaiming his solidarity with Trump.


MARGARET THACKER: GET OUT, AND VOTE: On Feb. 1, 1960 four young black men sat at a counter in Greensboro. They were members of a group of American citizens who had been told many times, “If you don’t like it, go back to where you came from.” And now, seven Congressional representatives from North Carolina — Reps. George Holding, Richard Hudson, Patrick McHenry, Mark Meadows, David Rouzer, Mark Walker and Virginia Foxx — have, by their votes against condemning the words of our president, joined him in the rebirth of this abhorrent message. The seven N.C. representatives who voted to bring about this rebirth of racism in our great country should be ashamed. The citizens of North Carolina, whom they clearly do not represent, need to get out — not of the country, but out to vote.

QUINTIN SCHRAFF: IT'S TIME TO BAN ROUND-UP IN NORTH CAROLINA: American agro-chemical company Monsanto has recently been under pressure after multiple cases of cancer have been linked to the chemical glyphosate, present in its weedkiller Roundup. Roundup is not just used by farmers for large scale agriculture. It is also extensively used in many public spaces. North Carolina Public Interest Research Group says each year 26 million pounds of Roundup are used in public spaces alone. This means places like our schools, parks, and playgrounds are posing a dangerous threat to the health of the public. It is unacceptable to use these chemicals when we know we could be increasing the risk of cancer, birth defects, and other serious health problems. I ask that Gov. Roy Cooper start taking steps to stop the use of Roundup in North Carolina. Without a Roundup ban, we are jeopardizing the health and well-being of all citizens.

VICKI RYDER: THEY ALSO SAID "IT CAN'T HAPPEN HERE": All four of my grandparents were immigrants. Fearing for their lives, they left their homes in Eastern Europe and came to America seeking refuge from persecution and hardship at home. Other family members couldn’t or wouldn’t leave, refusing to believe the rumors of the deportations and concentration camps. “It can’t happen here,” they assured each other. They perished. I find it appalling that today, in this nation built on immigrant labor, so many of those who have come here seeking a safe haven now cower in fear of forced deportation to failed states where violence, hunger, and perhaps death await them. Others who fled life-threatening conditions in their native countries now languish in overcrowded detention camps where frightened children are separated from frantic parents. Made to sleep on cement floors and drink from toilets, they are being held captive without being guilty of any crime. It doesn’t have to be this way. Please urge Sens. Burr and Tillis to reinstate the available and less costly ICE alternative immigrant case management programs used by previous administrations. Separating families and imprisoning them in squalid detention centers is not the answer.



From the dark side

This week we travel in the way-back machine with Walter Williams again:

Here’s a suggestion: How about setting up some high school rifle clubs? Students would bring their own rifles to school, store them with the team coach and, after classes, collect them for practice. You say: “Williams, you must be crazy! To prevent gun violence, we must do all we can to keep guns out of the hands of kids.” There’s a problem with this reasoning.

Prior to the 1960s, many public high schools had shooting clubs. In New York City, they were started at Boys, Curtis, Commercial, Manual Training and Stuyvesant high schools. Students carried their rifles to school on the subway and turned them over to their homeroom or gym teacher. Rifles were retrieved after school for target practice.

People did a lot of stupid shit back in the 1950's, like tucking their seatbelts out of the way (if they even had them), doctors offering their pregnant patients cigarettes to "relax" them, and giving patients frontal lobotomies to cure a broad range of moderate mental health issues. We evolved, or at least some of us did...

What explains a lot of what we see today is growing cultural deviancy. Twenty-nine percent of white children, 53% of Hispanic children and 73% of black children are born to unmarried women. The absence of a husband and father in the home is a strong contributing factor to poverty, school failure, crime, drug abuse, emotional disturbance and other social problems.

By the way, the low marriage rate among black people is relatively new. Census data shows that a slightly higher percentage of black adults had married than white adults from 1890 to 1940. According to the 1938 Encyclopaedia of the Social Sciences, that year only 11% of black children and 3% of white children were born to unwed mothers.

This is one of Williams' favorite refrains, bemoaning the loss of the nuclear family while also crucifying women for "out of wedlock" pregnancies. But of course he fails to see the irony of his own life, a life in which his father was nowhere to be found, and yet he rose to be a distinguished professor of economics at a major University (George Mason) and a painfully persistent syndicated opinion columnist. Go figure.

Other forms of cultural deviancy are found in the music accepted today that advocates murder, rape and other vile acts. In previous generations, people were held responsible for their behavior. Today, society at large pays for irresponsible behavior.

"Some" people were held responsible for their behavior. White men that lynched black men were only (very) rarely punished for that, and here comes the irony stick to whack dear Walter: Most of the black men lynched were accused of crimes and/or behavior they did not actually commit. But Walter has totally bought into the narrative of White Male Patriarchy, so don't expect him to have any "eureka!" moments.

Years ago, there was little tolerance for crude behavior and foul language. To see men sitting while a woman was standing on a public conveyance was once unthinkable. Children addressing adults by their first name, and their use of foul language in the presence of, and often to, teachers and other adults was unacceptable.

Actually, after Rosa Parks forced the issue on public buses, the resulting "fuck you" from white people was making blacks stand when riding. White women did it by placing their purse beside them on the seat, and white men did it by sitting on both seats and hiding behind their newspaper. So don't give me any of that chivalrous crap that only existed amongst white people exclusively.

Today’s true tragedy is that most people think what we see today has always been so. As such, Americans today accept behavior that our parents and grandparents never would have accepted.

Our parents and grandparents accepted and even condoned behavior that we today find repulsive. Racism, sexism, domestic abuse, wanton pollution of our environment, and a whole laundry list of other things that we no longer find acceptable. And I, for one, am grateful that we have evolved.