By Steve Woodward
I’ve recently escaped the encampment known as Asheville, North Carolina, where masking is pronounced and pronouns are never masked.
Asheville reminded me of remote Japanese islands after Japan surrendered to end World War II. Its people are walking around in masks as if the war on the Wuhan Virus is still raging, and we’re only one bad data point removed from returning to 100% lockdowns, vaccines at gun point and citizen street patrols.
And, I sensed they’d actually prefer this scenario. Dude, c’mon! Mask up. My spouse was scolded entering a restaurant in the “arts district” for her failure to wear a mask during the six-step walk to our table. Fortunately, I was parking the car, or we would have moved along. (I snuck in, undetected by the mask cops).
Before there we mask mandates in Asheville, it appears there were stringent tattoo, body piercing and gender reassignment mandates. It’s a population grounded in government control and “woke” culture. But behold, says the tourism bureau, don’t miss breathtaking autumn colors and horizons dominated by mountain peaks. So we lowlanders flock annually.
I, too, enjoyed the scenery, and the confines of the Grove Park Inn, where unmasked weekend guests crowded the grand lobby even as the staff was suffocating behind “mandatory” face diapers per a county mandate. The young adult crowd seemed comfortable spending $10 for a lobby bar beer, and untold thousands of dollars for rooms and amenities to accommodate wedding guests, even as all complied with masking while meandering, but never when seated, talking, eating, drinking, and hugging. Some day, will they look back and regret their complicity after history unveils the farcical conditions under which we now live? The mask surely will join the ranks of the 1970s leisure suit. No one will admit to having worn one. But, alas they did not have iPhones in the ’70s.
Face coverings are not the lone weapon against societal norms. Did you know that hotel guests are destroying the planet and starving people? At The Grove Park, an Omni property, guests are urged to “opt out” of housekeeping services. By passing up on clean sheets and towels, you authorize Omni to donate a meal to a community organization. (No details about who coordinates it; are we talking a cheese sandwich or a four-course feast? No clue.). If you insist on being a jerk and expecting housekeeping, a guest still can earn “green” points by hanging a used towel. Or, leave it on the floor, you planet killer, and the staff begrudgingly supplies a fresh towel.
As with many hotel chains, green initiatives are marketing schemes designed to reduce operational costs. These cutbacks only have escalated during the Wuhan virus era. The Grove Park’s many corridor walls are covered by photos of the rich and famous who’ve stayed in the hotel since 1913, guests who were welcomed with deference and denied nothing. In 2021, if you want coffee in the morning forget about room service. There is no such service. But please brew your own cup in a Keurig device. It’s a paper cup, of course. Did Thomas Edison sip his coffee from a paper cup?
Closer to home, The Pilot, a newspaper serving Southern Pines but ideally suited to an Asheville constituency, complained in an editorial that the county school board is being derailed by “politics”. The editorial proclaims a school board is a “nonpartisan arena”. Sure, and Jeffrey Epstein’s island was a spa and spiritual retreat.
Apparently, there is nothing partisan about nonchalance toward “Critical Race Theory” as a continuous anti-American thread woven into social studies curricula. Nothing partisan about pandering to a “land trust” shaming Moore County Schools until it accepted a racially motivated plea to purchase a former school property on the cheap. The three newly elected, “political” school board members voted against the land grab; and even brought a member over to their side in a 4-3 vote to ban CRT from curricula in Moore schools.
Everything is political, and always has been. Everything is not perverse, however. You would not know that given the intent of so-called local Republicans in waging recent campaigns to defame Lydia Boesch and Kevin Drum, Pinehurst Village Council members, and Maureen Krueger, the former district attorney.
Political cannibalism is an enduring trait of the Republican Party for reasons that remain elusive. But there he was, Pinehurst Mayor John Strickland, recently claiming council members Boesch and Drum committed “ethics violations” on the flimsiest charges since the Steele Dossier was used to target Donald Trump’s presidency. In the case of Drum, the charge was made weeks ahead of his re-election bid on November 2. Drum lost to a pair of first-time, novice candidates, including Strickland crony Patrick Pizzella.
Krueger made the fatal mistake of accepting a nomination to become President of the Moore Republican Women’s club, an award winning club regionally and nationally, and the state’s largest. The spouse of the current district attorney, Michael Hardin, whom Krueger did not endorse in 2020, mounted an expensive campaign to oppose Krueger for the club presidency. In a secret-ballot election on November 3 Krueger received two-thirds of the vote to easily secure the position. But if she was trying to sow seeds of division in the club, Victoria Hardin also scored a victory, perverse though it was.
Republicans at all levels of government have to figure out how to be more skeptical of the many frauds who slither into our midst. Consider the 13 House Republicans who last week voted in favor of the Biden administration’s $1 trillion “infrastructure” bill that will allocate a scant $110 billion for legitimate infrastructure projects (The Wall Street Journal, November 8, 2021).
The Village Council’s perversion may yet bring down its conspirators. Boesch, whose ethics violation is alleged to be talking to a village employee without permission, correctly sensed that Strickland and two fellow council members colluded to prepare a statement denouncing her before a scheduled October public meeting. Member Jane Hogeman was reading “her” statement rather matter-of-factly when Boesch interrupted to ask who had authored it. Hogeman was caught off guard and soon acknowledged that it has been “passed around”.
Boesch hired a well established attorney, who warned the council that it very likely violated state opening meetings laws by meeting on the sly to craft its denunciation of Boesch, herself an attorney.
Even the most betrayal minded Republicans can not mask their intentions forever.