In Washington, legal and political walls may be closing in on the slow motion train wreck that is the Trump administration, but here in North Carolina, conservative leaders still refuse to abandon the Prevaricator-in-Chief or the key policy tenets of Trumpism.
Three classic cases in point were on display in the news this week: abetting the spread of guns, slashing public investments in education and installing fundamentalist Christianity as the state religion.
Blood of murdered children
On the gun front, the news surrounded the renewed entreaty of a North Carolina state lawmaker to inject thousands of guns into the state’s public school classrooms. According to the lawmaker, arming school teachers and personnel is “the most practical, common sense, and constitutionally sound proposal of all.” He went on to say that the blood of murdered schoolchildren “will be on our hands” if the state doesn’t take such action.
Sadly, such comments are pretty much par for the course for the lawmaker in question – a person who once compared Abraham Lincoln to Adolf Hitler and claimed that the perpetrator of the recent Florida high school massacre was part of a conspiracy to spur more gun control laws.
The good news is that very few people appear to be paying attention to him. Even the vast majority of North Carolina conservatives realize that putting truckloads of firearms into our state’s classrooms is a terrible and horrifically dangerous idea from the far right fringe.
Let’s hope it stays out there where it belongs.
Don’t believe your eyes when it comes to public schools
Speaking of fringe ideas, the once–formidable editorial page of Raleigh’s News & Observer has recently turned over a sizable chunk of its limited column inches to the top staffer at the conservative, Raleigh-based Pope Foundation. In this Monday’s column, the Pope staffer chose to hold forth for the umpteenth time on one of his favorite topics: the supposed evils of generous public education spending.
As usual, the column (“Spending more on K-12 schools might not be the smart move”) offered a trip through the funhouse mirror into the weird and wacky “right-wing-overse” in which policies like North Carolina’s decade-long disinvestment in public schools and multi-part privatization scheme are made to appear virtuous.
Through the use of a handful of cherry-picked data points about test scores and the relationship of various states to the national average on education spending, the staffer attempts to convince us not to see what our eyes are clearly reporting every day – namely, that hundreds of North Carolina schools are crumbling and severely lacking in skilled, veteran teachers and basic text books and supplies (not to mention school counselors, nurses, psychologists, administrators, teaching assistants and any number of other essential personnel).
The staffer is right, of course, that there is a lot more to educational achievement than merely increased education spending. Eliminating childhood poverty via the creation of a robust public safety net is the most obvious path. Unfortunately, that kind of genuine solution would implicate something that neither the staffer nor his patron is willing to brook under any circumstances: requiring wealthy people and profitable corporations to pay their fair share for the essential public structures that knit together a healthy society.
Better, therefore, to redirect the public’s attention toward shiny objects like charter schools, and vouchers than to acknowledge such inconvenient truths.
Theocracy on the march
And finally, speaking of distracting people with shiny objects, one of the state’s most energetic – if not always the most skilled – practitioners in that dark art was at it again last weekend. Speaking at a conservative conference in Raleigh, the state’s Lt. Governor sought once more to characterize his policy positions as emanating from the Almighty and those of progressives as coming from, well, you know.
This is From N&O reporter Andy Specht’s story:
Forest, a likely Republican candidate for governor in 2020, said ‘the left’ marches and lobbies for bigger government with ‘religious fervor.’
‘It’s the thing that wars used to be fought over,’ Forest said. ‘You see it on issues like climate change, or the Me Too movement or black lives matter or gun control,’ he continued. ‘Name the issue today, the fervor has reached a religious pitch in America. Why? Because it really is the religion of the left.’
‘They have no hope in a higher power,’ Forest also said.”
You got that? A politician who crusades every day for public officials to tell women what they can and cannot do with their reproductive systems and LGBTQ people who they can and cannot love is against marching and lobbying “for bigger government with religious fervor.”
That makes about as much sense as presuming to tell hundreds millions of people of deep faith who disagree with his warped and bigoted views of the world that they have no belief in “a higher power.”
Of course, when your national leader and role model is a president possessed of all of the truthfulness and morality of an organized crime boss, perhaps such vacuous hypocrisy comes naturally.