The risk of doing nothing

Published June 10, 2013

By D. G. Martin

by D. G. Martin

“We will not be Intimidated or Coerced by Certain Alphabetical Organizations or Committees under the Disguise of ‘Betterment of Certain Groups or Races’.”

It reads like the reactions of some North Carolinians to the Moral Monday demonstrations at the North Carolina Legislative Building recently, doesn’t it?

Like Governor Pat McCrory, when he promised not to “back down” in the face of the demonstrations: “Outsiders are coming in and …they are going to come in and try to change the subject. And I'm not going to let them.”

Or like Republican State Senator Thom Goolsby from Wilmington, who called the demonstrations a circus, “complete with clowns, a carnival barker and a sideshow.”

Goolsby continued, “Never short on audacity, the Loony Left actually named their gathering ‘Moral Monday.’ Between the screaming, foot stomping and disjointed speeches, it appeared more like ‘Moron Monday.’ The gathering was supposed to influence legislators.”

McCrory’s and Goolsby’s comments about Moral Monday are contemporary. But this column’s opening paragraph is 50 years old. It was a June 12, 1963, ad posted in the window of Colonial Drug in Chapel Hill. It let its white customers know that it would not be intimidated by the “Loony Left” groups of the day that were demonstrating for equality and the opportunity to be served and seated at public eating establishments.

Goolsby is in tune with the sentiments of 50 years ago when he said, “Even Democrat pollsters say these protests are hurting their party and its long-term plan to recover power. Regular people, i.e. voters, tend to shy away from the real radical fringe.”

Some contemporary opponents of the Republican programs agree with Goolsby that the Moral Monday demonstrations could be driving away moderate potential allies.

And they worry that the demonstrations could provoke McCrory, Goosby, and others in control to take even harsher action.

Old timers point out, as did Raleigh lawyer and for UNC-Chapel Hill student body president, Bob Spearman, in an excellent talk earlier this year, that the marches and demonstrations of civil rights activists in Chapel Hill and Raleigh in 1963 prompted conservative lawmakers to retaliate by passing the Speaker Ban Law.

There is always a risk that demonstrations and civil disobedience can be counter-productive. Such actions always subject participants to derisive terms like those Goolsby used to describe the Moral Monday participants: “mostly white, angry, aged former hippies.”

On the other hand there is also a risk in doing nothing.

A cross-section of North Carolina religious leaders recognized that risk last week.

Top officials from the Catholic, Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, and Episcopalian churches explained their reasons for joining the Moral Monday effort.  “The North Carolina General Assembly is passing bills that will remove 500,000 people from the Medicaid roles leaving them without health insurance; that will remove 170,000 people from unemployment when unemployment rates remain at historically high levels; that threaten to replace the graduated state income tax with a consumption tax that will adversely impact the poorest North Carolinians who will face increased prices on basic goods; that will force college students to return to their often distant homes to vote or cost their parents their $2,500 dependency deduction.

“These and many other bills will adversely impact those who can least afford it and therefore demand a fervent response from people of faith!”

Their action and commitment will make the Moral Monday effort harder for the McCrorys and Goolsbys to ignore or deride. Their leadership could make Moral Monday the main rallying point for those disturbed by the direction of state government and give many others a way to avoid the risk of doing nothing.

D. G. Martin's "One on One" column posted June 9, 2013

June 10, 2013 at 12:13 pm
dj anderson says:

Do the Moral Monday protesters really believe they are on the same moral level as the Civil Rights demonstrations of 50 years ago? Apparently so.

Democrats want to go back 50 years to find quotes and actions to taint the other party, but the hypocrites don't and won't go back 100 years to find the party of the KKK and Jim Crow was they themselves. We see where such logic leads us.

Republicans want less income tax and more sales tax, which is regressive and hurts the poor, which I'm against, but face it fellow Democrats, it was we who put the sales tax onto the poor in 1935 at 3% and we Democrats who added a penny in 1971 and we who allowed municipalities to nearly double that since then. Republicans went happily along, but where was the moral outrage for the last 75 years?

The regressive sales tax is owned by Democrats who controlled state government for a 100 years and to pretend to take some moral high ground now when the Republicans might raise it a percent or so is hypocritical, don't ya think?

The sales tax on food (added first by Democratic Gov. Terry Sanford) is wrong. The sales tax on prescription drugs is wrong. I don't understand the reasoning not to add more people to Medicaid, but I do understand that the Democrats failed to administer Medicaid responsibly knowing that the taxpayer will give another dollar to an efficient, effective program, but not a penny more to a mismanaged one.

The Democrats ran a segregated school system for a century yet can now complain about even the poor getting vouchers, and that's OK, but we can't pretend we are so morally superior that we can paint our opposition with actions of others 50 years ago without remembering our actions of 100 years ago. The razor cuts both ways.

Democrats in NC have no idea how to operate without being in power, and let me add the Republicans are showing they don't have the experience to be in power.

Rev. Barber is now the de facto leader of the NC Democratic Party. He's the only show in town. Whether this is good for Democrats and bad for Republicans only time will tell. There's no election in November.

The stance of the blog above blog is something I can't identify with -- can you? The tactic used is itself morally wrong.