Prod month

By Steve Woodward

On this date 79 years ago Joe Biden was a toddler and, across the Atlantic Ocean, the defining U.S.-led offensive of World War II roared to life along the French coast near Normandy.

It is an anniversary during which every American can attempt to remember our country when citizens were proud of our military servicemen, when we knew who the bad guys were and when we believed in our exceptionalism.

In today’s poisoned culture D-day is not the focus as June begins. Corporations, politicians, educators and the media instead are fixated on B-gay. Many Americans no longer care if our military is equipped to defend freedom but they’ll suck the oxygen out of the air lamenting whether it is adequately woke.

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s pride month across America and there’s no escaping the rainbows and unicorns. Crack open a cold Bud Light, sit back and witness our crumbling culture.

Pandering over profit is visible as far as the eye can see. Anheuser-Busch (where pride month came early this year). Target. Kohl’s. Barnes & Noble. Reebok. H&M (clothing retailer). Sony PlayStation. Levi Strauss. Converse. Absolut Vodka. Lego. Ralph Lauren.

A Barnes & Noble display

When visiting our neighborhood Harris Teeter, we encountered pride bouquets in the floral department, and pride salutes affixed to shelving price tabs for selected Proctor & Gamble products. At Sunrise Theater, put down $10 to see a pride-centric film every Thursday in June. All ages are welcome. This week: Beautiful Thing, a love story starring two gay adolescents.

Actually, it feels more like prod month, one continuous poke in the ribs.

Even the networks can’t help themselves. CBS Sports’ PGA golf broadcast of The Memorial tournament last weekend is a case in point. CBS forced broadcasting legend Jim Nantz to salute the “strength and resilience of the LGBTQ community” during its live coverage. Memo to CBS execs: Who do think watches pro golf on TV? Of all the sports on the calendar, golf by miles is the straightest. Straight guys with hot wives.

We can be thankful that the pride brigades decided to hijack June for their festivities. Most of the kids are out of school by now. Can you imagine how some of our most woke teachers would seize the moment? That’s why organizations like GLSEN rolled out its pride educator’s tool kit to help teachers make students “feel safer and more affirmed.” What atrocities befall them in prior months. That never comes up. Most likely, none.

A random Google search landed us on the Durham (N.C.) Public Schools’ website home page, which features a full-screen pride flag. Perhaps Durham educators should take a moment to review the Department of Public Instruction’s most recent school performance grades. There are at last count 40 schools rated C, D, or F. By far the dubious tally finds most are D-rated (24) or F-rated (four). If making complete idiots out of your compassion filled kids is your goal, Durham schools are the ones for you.

We deceive ourselves if we try to explain away the pride movement as a harmless, passing trend. Compassion is the default mode for most Americans, at least those of a certain age. Because the tenets of LBGTQ pride are so heavily focused on children and young adults, it is apparent that the propagators of pride-ism desire fostering coming generations devoid of moral or spiritual cores. God, if there is one, is a flawed creator, they infer.

The boys who stormed the beaches 79 years ago fought and died to crush Germany’s evil regime. The ones who came home went to work building an economic superpower, raised their families and worshipped God. They never once complained that there were no safe or affirming spaces to be found on the blood soaked sand.

For their memory and legacies, we rightly burst with pride.

Did they die in vain?

By Steve Woodward

The sobering realization defining Memorial Day 2023 is that they might have died in vain. In all of the wars. Across all of the many decades.

This foreboding thought came over me as I listened to the words of prolific war historian Patrick K. O’Donnell during a podcast this morning. He described uncommon valor displayed by common citizens motivated by nothing more than a sense of duty to defend American freedom and advance liberty beyond our shores.

Generations of Americans have honored the unfathomable courage of the men and women who wore the uniform. Not in parades. But on battlefields strewn with carnage, obscured by smoke and flying shrapnel and haunted by the din of youngsters crying in agony until they fell silent.

The boys of Pointe du Hoc, D-day 1944

With so much detailed documentation on film and in literature of their sacrifices and what they preserved — freedom from tyranny that defined virtually all of human history — how have Americans arrived at a dangerous crossroads where indifference meets ignorance?

Patriotism, Christian faith and devotion to the nuclear family are not merely wavering. These tenets of American stability are in free fall. Young people are taught — in no uncertain terms — that America was unjustly founded by white racists whose racism remains engrained in every thread running through our culture, and that our Judeo-Christian heritage is sexist and cruel.

We face new generations of adults who do not love, and might more often loathe, our country. We face waves of undocumented, illegal immigrants who long to populate our soil but will never assimilate or vote, and would kill any one of us to seize our property. And we have children in public education systems who are mocked for praying, bullied for displaying an American flag and groomed to question everything about their very humanity.

Americans in 1998 who recognized that patriotism was very important to them comprised 70 percent in a survey. A survey released in March 2023 finds just 38 percent today acknowledging the importance of patriotism in their lives. Hand in hand with this erosion is a steep decline in those who say religious faith is very important. In 1998, 62 percent said it was; today, 39 percent agree.

And the trends are even more alarming among young Americans. Merely 23 percent of adults under age 30 said in the new survey that patriotism was very important to them personally, compared with 59 percent of seniors ages 65 or older. 

(Editor’s note: The Wall Street Journal survey conducted with a nonpartisan research organization, NORC, polled 1,019 people from March 1-13, 2023, mostly online. The margin of error was plus or minus 4.1 percentage points. Read more.)

During a recent segment of a program he hosts on Epoch TV, Joshua Phillip lamented these trends. “This is a very unhealthy thing because patriotism is what holds up generationally the idea that represents what a nation is,” he said. “You can only go a couple of generations without that before, basically, you have a restructuring.” Or a collapse.

In his farewell address to the nation in 1989, President Ronald Reagan more or less forecasted declining patriotism, warning of “an eradication of the American memory (of military sacrifice) that could result, ultimately, in an erosion of the American spirit.”

In his American experience in the 20th century, “we were taught, very directly, what it means to be an American,” Reagan said. “And we absorbed, almost in the air, a love of country and an appreciation of its institutions. If you didn’t get these things from your family you got them from the neighborhood, from the father down the street who fought in Korea … or you could get a sense of patriotism from school.”

Reagan in Normandy, June 6, 1984

The America Reagan knew and reflected on just 33 years ago has all but vanished. In the same address, Reagan recalled a speech in France.

“(In 1984) on the 40th anniversary of D-day, I read a letter from a young woman writing to her late father, who’d fought on Omaha Beach. (She wrote), ‘We will always remember, we will never forget what the boys of Normandy did.’

“Well, let’s help her keep her word. If we forget what we did, we won’t know who we are.” 

President Joe Biden, in his Memorial Day 2023 remarks, issued a hollow pledge: “Today we rededicate ourselves to the work for which they gave their lives.”

To what work does he refer? Infusing the modern military with LGBTQ sensitivity training? Diminishing America’s stature on the global stage by our deference to China? Threatening national sovereignty by deliberately failing to protect our nation’s southern border with Mexico from full-blown invasion? Proposing electrical vehicles to replace existing military fleets? Locking down citizens and crushing our liberties at the behest of shadowy terror merchants in the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control? Accepting as normal lawlessness in our cities?

It is beyond nauseating to recognize that they gave their lives and, yet, in a matter of generations the freedoms for which they fought, cloaked by God’s divine providence, would be trampled by the Godless and the deranged, the weak and the self-absorbed, and by deeply evil fellow citizens who control levers of power, influence and wealth.

Almost 80 years after terrified American boys courageously stormed the beaches on the Normandy coast, let us summon anew their courage and valor, not in a faraway land, but to defeat, decisively, our enemies within.

Trump 2.0

By Steve Woodward

Headlines plucked from the cultural cesspool:

Headline: Although the chairman of its board of directors resides in Tampa, the NAACP is warning black citizens and other “people of color” to avoid visiting Florida. (Does beet red due to uncontrolled laughter make me a person of color? Asking for a friend.)

Headline: Washington state is allocating $83,000 to host a Diversity, Inclusion and Equity education conference in June that includes a keynote speech entitled, “Drag Story Hour and Fireside Chat”. This is the same state that passed a law to declare parenting a threat to children.

Headline: Pundit Peggy Noonan, once renowned as a Reagan speechwriter, today warns that Republicans must turn on Donald Trump by taking a cue from the FBI’s response in 2017 to “Russian collusion”. 

Writes Noonan, “(Trump) was so impossible to imagine as president, such an obviously bad man and thus a threat to our country — that otherwise temperate and responsible people found themselves willing to believe anything about him, and, in the case of the FBI, willing to pursue any probe even when the evidence was thin or nonexistent.”

Against this backdrop of cultural lunacy and hysteria, the staid William Galston, in his weekly Wall Street Journal column, warns Republicans that we will go to our political grave unless we cave. On everything. We must echo Noonan and apologize for our Trump votes in 2016.

We already are racist, transphobic and too tolerant of the insufferable Orange Man. Now, we normal, law abiding conservatives have another, broader problem. We are too strident on abortion, same-sex marriage, trans weirdness, and border security. 

Galston and his mainstream media ilk do not acknowledge — or understand — that Americans living in flyover country, and even those in rural counties on the coasts, are not ever going to compromise on principle. Just look at what our complacency has wrought in recent decades. We were too compliant, if anything. We were also asleep. What became of education while we slumbered under the illusion that teaching history was a fairly straightforward exercise, unincumbered by revisionism.

Galston, from his elite perch, intones that Americans are “yearning for cultural moderation.”

That is quite an assumption, as it assumes vast swaths of Americans are weary of adhering to the Constitution, and to Biblical principles that undergird Christianity. Only a columnist who resides in a paneled office surrounded by scholarly pablum would advance such an elitist narrative. 

“U.S. voters,” he concludes without referencing any polling, “are looking for candidates willing to defend what most see as moral common sense and recognize that complex cultural issues can’t be reduced to a binary choice.”

In fact, this presumption that we must adopt moral common sense strikes many Americans as accepting moral erosion, a precipitous decline into a Godless abyss.

This call for a coming around, accepting that a Judeo-Christian mindset is out of favor, also resonates within the pages of The Atlantic, a periodical that is very well written and often compelling. But, of course, it is underpinned by the agenda of Marxist demagogues on the editorial executive floors.

“The Republicans are in the grip of a cult of personality, so there’s little hope for a normal GOP primary and almost none for a traditional presidential election,” The Atlantic writes. “Meanwhile, Republican candidates refuse to take a direct run at Donald Trump and speak the truth — loudly — to his voters; instead, they talk about all of the good that Trump has done but then plead with voters to understand that Trump is unelectable.“

This is a view from elitist world. Trump only is unelectable inside the cocktail parties in New York and Washington where the attendees are unaware of escalating crime in the streets of major cities, unyieldingly high prices for food and utilities, and a humanitarian crisis along the southern border. Worse, the elites are unaware of ascending school boards and village councils in small and midsize towns where the voters welcome a Trump resurgence because it began years ago and is entrenched today — at the grassroots. 

Wall Street Journal editor emeritus Gerard Baker, in his weekly column, Free Expression, devoted most of a May 23, 2023, review of the Trump’s “unelectability” to points which support that claim — Trump can’t win; he’s damaged goods. But Baker acknowledges this much about Trump’s primary opponents: “It takes more than a little chutzpah for someone who hasn’t registered a single vote in a presidential primary contest to dismiss someone who has already been elected (in 2016) as ‘unelectable’.”

The never Trumpers warn that we are delusional in believing that a second Trump term, led by a man into his late 70s, will recapture the triumphs of his first term. But what if we get Trump 2.0 in 2025? If it reverses the train wreck that is our economy, our foreign policy and our open southern border, and refutes so-called “cultural moderation”, the country wins, the people win, and our enemies once again will shrink into the shadows. 

And then there is this convenient truth: Kamala Harris no longer will be vice president. 


By Steve Woodward

Public education reform is on the move in Moore County, and long overdue. Who is the hysterical citizen standing in the breech, shouting, “Halt!”?

It’s none other than the editor of The Pilot, John Nagy, who seems to live with numerous rent-free occupants between his ears. 

He’s been very upset ever since the Moore County Board of Education was reconstituted by the will of voters. Three new board members were installed last December, joining the status quo terminators elected in 2020, David Hensley, Philip Holmes and Robert Levy. Suddenly, a dependable 4-3 rubber stamp board became a 6-1, take-no-prisoners reform board, no longer beholden to a tyrannical Robert Grimesey, whose reign as Moore County Schools superintendent was notable for its unchecked spending and inattention to deteriorating campus discipline. He has faded into retirement, or, perhaps, exile.

Nagy’s May 14, 2023, op-ed contends that our teachers are under siege at the hands of “cynical and conspiratorial” culture warriors. Seems he has failed to notice that teachers increasingly are conduits of the political Left’s deliberate hijacking of public education, which has given us math and reading proficiencies in free fall, a student population ever more traumatized by gender dysphoria, and chronic student misconduct bordering on chaos.

These downward trends already were reality before March 2020 when China unleashed a bioweapon in the form of an infectious virus that quickly spread as Chinese nationals were permitted to travel into the U.S by air. 

Bowing to a sudden suspension of individual liberty, our schools were shuttered and students were sent into a twilight zone called “remote learning” that sacrificed educational progress to protect them from a virus posing very little threat to their well being, or the health of their teachers. After months of school closures were lifted, kids were subjected to morning temperature checks, suffocating masks and useless social distancing. They were back in school but education remained at the mercy of pandemic hysteria. The former school board was in full compliance, and exploited the “scamdemic” by subjecting citizens attending its meetings to mask mandates and heightened scrutiny. The latter because they dared to question Draconian measures never before seen.

Unwarranted masking attracted a protest ahead of a September 2021 school board meeting.

Then-board chair Libby Carter went so far as to gin up a never confirmed security threat used to subject school board meeting attendees to metal detectors and an oversized presence of campus security officers. In at least two cases, taxpayers were physically removed because they would not wear masks. In hindsight, attendees should have shunned masks entirely and dared security to manhandle all of us as we speed dialed our attorneys. 

Against this surreal backdrop of the past three years, Nagy wants to know why anything needs to change. In fact, he accuses the current school board of engaging in “chaos theory”. 

Nagy’s assumption is that teachers are being targeted as scapegoats for every shortcoming in public schools. He defends them as “first responders to the social, emotional and intellectual needs of our children away from home.” This benign notion would not have raised red flags in the past, but recent generations of teachers emerging from woke universities firmly believe their college degrees — many earned in the catch-all major known as “education” — obligate them to protect children from their parents, rather than acting in partnership with moms and dads. Grooming is not limited to sexual orientation.

When the current school board did what it had been elected to do, limited ranks of teachers and parents were not pleased. The Parents’ Bill of Rights, accessed Nagy, “unfairly targets transgender students in Moore County.” A bald-faced lie. Rather than recognize parental rights, Nagy recommends emphasizing the “legal obligations of teachers and counseling professionals.” Since when do teachers/counselors have an obligation or, worse, a right, to shield students’ mental health concerns from parents. This is precisely why transgenderism is trending forward, with no concern among some (not all) teachers that transitioning often is the first step toward serious mental health breakdowns, even suicide.

A resolution to require students to read a book and submit a written book report set off a wave of exploding heads. It was dismissed as a ploy in which board members are usurping the authority of and questioning the performance of teachers.

Nagy complains further that books are being removed by board members and their surrogates “unilaterally from classrooms”. This is a real humdinger. It’s not true. The books under scrutiny have been discovered lurking in school libraries. In one case, the content of a book was so graphically vile members of the former board cringed as passages were read aloud by a citizen during a board meeting. This scene has been repeated at school board meetings around the nation.

All of the wrist-wringing is intended to set the stage for Nagy’s most damning accusation aimed at the current school board, which is that its steadfastness is running teachers out of the profession and leaving classrooms understaffed.

The fact our cranky local columnist ignores is that a majority of teachers are not cultural warriors, do not view children as vessels to be manipulated, do not despise their pupil’s parents and love their profession. 

The Levy-chaired school board has correctly identified that sweeping reform is past due in Moore County schools. Sadly, it will come too late for numerous teachers who have given their all but feel helpless trying to stem the tide of compromised educational standards, declining student proficiency in the basics of math and reading, and trying to survive in schools that for too long have been hijacked by undisciplined students, and have too few campus security personnel to control them. 

This is reality not theory.


By Steve Woodward

What a swell honeymoon it was. It’s over.

The days of RC Cola and Moon Pies are fading from memory. During its May 8, 2023, public session, the Moore County Board of Education took on a lengthy agenda. By night’s end, whether owed to fatigue or fear, the board seated last December to pursue reform and transparency had lost its way.

It was difficult to watch because we’ve seen this movie in the past and know how it ends.

The very same board, chair Robert Levy, vice chair David Hensley et al (minus a lone dissenting voter who represents the last gasps of the Robert Grimesey regime), that boldly authored and enshrined as policy a Parent’s Bill of Rights a few weeks ago, went completely wobbly on students’ rights.

Say it ain’t so. At issue is when the school year begins. It is common knowledge that the academic calendar established by the state Board of Education in compliance with state law does not serve the best interests of public education — specifically, students.

The school year starts deep into August (August 28 in 2023-24), which has one very intended consequence — it keeps vacation cottages and condos on the beaches and in the mountains churning revenue until summer’s end. State lawmakers have always protected the travel and tourism industry, even at the expense of education.

By bowing to said industry, lawmakers penalize children by sending them off to their annual December Christmas break having not completed the semester, including term papers and exams. Thus, the cloud of this unfinished business intrudes on kids, teachers and parents, compromising what the lyricist called “the most wonderful time of the year.”

This absurdity could easily have been deep sixed by our board of education on May 8. A proposed “early start” calendar would move the opening date of the 2024-25 school year to August 7. This would facilitate ending the first semester before the Christmas break, with school resuming January 7. Lastly, the school year would end on May 23, in time for Memorial Day weekend, leaving many weeks for surf, sand and majestic mountains.

The biggest no-brainer since parents’ rights and book reports were restored. Or so it appeared.

Superintendent Tim Locklair’s hands presumably were tied. He recommended keeping the traditional (flawed) calendar intact, citing state law. But laws are made to be challenged, especially those established to sustain cronyism. Vice chair Hensley, never one to back down from a challenge, urged fellow board members to remember their mission, and why they were overwhelmingly elected.

“Fiduciary responsibility” requires the board to act boldly, he said. Subjecting kids to post-Christmas final exams denies them a well deserved mental health break and, in some cases, surely impacts exam performance. (How many kids hunker down studying for exams on break? Zero?)

And there is another consideration that four members of the board ultimately rejected. Lee County (N.C) schools altered its academic calendar and has yet to face a legal challenge. This was confirmed in real time by Moore County board attorney Richard Schwartz.

“The current calendar is untenable,” Hensley said. It exists because of “special interests in Raleigh and only special interests. It is 100% driven by the travel and tourism industry.

“If the travel and tourism industry wants to sue us, I guess we’ll see them in court.”

Citing his inclination to “model obedience to the law,” chair Levy would not be convinced that the board faced yet another opportunity to defy the status quo

Levy was joined by board members Ken Benway, Stacey Caldwell and Shannon Davis as “yes” votes. Yes to a calendar that compromises the educational outcomes of county students.

Hensley, Pauline Bruno and Philip Holmes voted “no”. Actually, hell no.

Later, Bruno expressed disappointment in her fellow members. “I am on this board to make a change. I think we showed a lack of courage tonight.”

If you conclude that this vote falls short of redlining the courage meter, be aware that the tide turned even more toward status quo-clinging on a matter before the board involving a retired school security officer and “his” trusty firearm. We hope chair Levy wore steel-toed shoes for this egregious vote.

More in my next installment.