The seduction

By Steve Woodward

She normally might have worn a beaming smile while walking alongside her Mom on their way to the Carolina Hotel parking lot. But a darling little girl, perhaps all of three or four, was instead holding her breath with a hand over her mouth. This was her “mask”. She appeared to be genuinely afraid as I passed by. Mom was wearing an actual mask.

We can assume that there are two schools of thought among young, woke parents about children and masks. One, the Wuhan Virus will kill my child if she is not masked in public. Or, two, wearing a mask signals that you care about others and are obedient and respectful toward authority.

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A Moore County Citizens for Freedom member, July 25.

Snowflake parenting is threatening to impose on our society a future generation so fragile the flakes will not form in the first place. They’ll be as delicate as raindrops.  Maybe it was inevitable but virus hysteria will guarantee it, and it will not end with this crisis. The presumption of absolute safety, revealed to be far more prevalent than we knew, likely will find children wearing masks out of habit, lest a head cold or bout of flu looms.

In a matter of months the Left and its compliant media have cast over our nation a cloud of absolutism. We are absolutely obligated to be fearful of a virus with an overwhelmingly high recovery rate. We are absolutely a nation founded under white supremacy and irredeemable to this day, and absolutely the epicenter of systemic racism worldwide.

Law and order is inherently a racist desire. Tyranny, on the other hand, is salvation. As long as our tyrant mayors and governors adopt separate standards for rioters, looters, vandals and police assassins, of course. What is not absolute are standards of the Left. Their standards are applied only when convenient.

Many of us are asking, how did this happen? How, in a few months’ time, did a health crisis infect core values, courage and decency? How did radical left Marxists so dramatically rise out of the shadows to leverage race to pursue impure outcomes? How did so many elected leaders fail to lead in order to allow deliberate destruction of private property, historically significant monuments and religious symbols? How did we arrive at a place when pastors and priests willingly locked the doors to our houses of worship?

A pastor of a church in White Lake, N.C., Rev. Cameron McGill, addressed many of these questions in a recent sunrise, lakeside video, which you are urged to watch and share (it runs just nine minutes). Click here. Skip ahead to the 1:45 mark to hear the essence of McGill’s message.

He quotes II Timothy 3:13 as the principal explanation for the rapid deterioration of our culture: “But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.”

McGill explains that Americans ripe for being deceived have been seduced. Throughout history, when evil has prevailed and derailed entire societies, it has done so through seduction. Socialism is seduction in its most glaring form. Seduction is how sin prevails despite the efforts of many to be “good people”.  Seduction explains why socialist dictators easily murdered tens of millions of innocent people in the 20th century alone (Hitler, Stalin, Mao). Marxism is rooted in seduction. How else do we explain throngs of college educated white Americans swarming the streets of cities such as Portland, Ore., where destruction and police baiting has gone on unabated for two months?

Perhaps where seduction is most dangerously imposed is when we set aside common sense because “experts” are telling us to be guided by science and data, regardless of whether the numbers are accurate or reliable. Health experts, empowered by governors, seduced millions into accepting that crushing the economy, putting people out of work, closing churches and schools and turning neighbor against neighbor is all worth it to keep us safe. The promise of safety is perhaps the ultimate seduction.

We now know that there are many in our midst who will yield everything to feel safe. Even if it deprives them of a sweet little girl’s smile.

American Al Qaeda

By Steve Woodward

If we are expected to patiently observe a phasing in of a return to freely living our daily lives amid Wuhan Virus hysteria, should we not expect, demand, a phasing out of domestic terrorism overwhelming our urban streets? Government had all of the solutions for the former, issued as “emergency” orders, but suddenly is silent on how to combat the latter. No orders.

Radical left Democrat mayors and governors (including North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper) have repeatedly admonished us to “stay at home”, followed by guidance that we are “safer at home”. Now, it turns out they were right but for the wrong reason. Cooper expressed that he was “frustrated” by mounting unlawful riots in the state’s urban centers after an incident in Minnesota involving a white police officer and black man. But where was the executive order to call in the National Guard, where was the order declaring Antifa and its network of at-the-ready flamethrowers what they are, domestic terrorists? (President Trump took care of that on Sunday).

Political tyranny suddenly has yielded to political gamesmanship and anarchy in the streets not far from home, in Charlotte, Fayetteville and Raleigh. If states and municipalities were not prepared for the invisible Wuhan Virus, they certainly have been shown even more ill-prepared to combat highly visible and well orchestrated assaults on private businesses and innocent citizens.

Quite the one-two punch. The virus shatters small businesses’ finances; the street thugs shatter their windows and recent returns to semi-normalcy. If the left saw a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to allow virus hysteria to take down the U.S. economy, just imagine how their heads must be spinning at the thought of leveraging renewed racial tensions, largely staged and carried out with great precision. They mobilize suddenly and formidably in a way reminiscent of Al Qaeda and Isis, as if they have lingered in the shadows until the moment arrives. The big difference is that these terrorists are bred from within our society.

During Memorial Day weekend, my wife and I strolled the neighborhoods and streets of Charleston, S.C. As I write, King Street in the heart of Charleston was covered in glass fragments and debris when the sun came up on May 31. A week ago, no one would have suggested there was radical tension in the air. Maybe it was simmering, but Charleston was not a city that felt tense. It felt open and resilient.

A few years ago, I directed regional marketing for a restaurant chain that had one of its locations on Fayetteville Street in downtown Raleigh. On the evening of May 30, a brick took out a glass panel in the restaurant, and the carnage was far worse heading up the street toward the State Capitol and the Governor’s Mansion, according to photos and video posted to social media. I spent many days and nights in downtown Raleigh, famous for its recurring street fairs. Downtown Raleigh is an emerging and thriving place as more high rise apartments spring up and more jobs come to town (courtesy of new inhabitants such open-source software firm Red Hat). What Raleigh is not — until recent days — is a city brimming with overt racial tension. During Cooper’s unconstitutional lockdown, a series of #ReOpenNC Tuesday protests, attended by all races and ethnicities, were conducted peacefully with only a handful of symbolic arrests, no police showdowns and absolutely zero property damage.

The current violent uprisings have happened before, as recently as 2014 in Ferguson, Mo., and Baltimore. They are happening now. They are likely to happen again. Why? The left blames our society for refusing to have a “serious conversation” about racial prejudice in our country. Cooper insists the latest protests arose to address “real systemic racism”. This is entirely disingenuous. The nation’s most impoverished, racially divided (measured by economic prosperity gaps) metro areas have been controlled and manipulated by Democrat politicians for decades. Their government solutions, their social engineering policies and cyclical programs to ingrain welfare dependency are deliberate. Yet conservatives are the racists. Just ask any mainstream media organization.

Without a hint of irony, a Washington Post columnist makes this recent observation: “It’s also notable that the cities where we’ve seen the most social unrest following high-profile police abuse cases — Baltimore, Ferguson, Cleveland, Chicago, Milwaukee and now Minneapolis — are cities with a well-documented history of police discrimination, abuse and violence. These are the cities where black people were probably more likely to have had their own bad experiences with police and, presumably, more likely to see themselves or someone they know in the shoes of Freddie Gray (Baltimore, 2015) or Laquan McDonald (Chicago, 2014) or Tamir Rice (Cleveland, 2014).”

And what else do these cities have in common? Democrat mayors appointing police chiefs who continue to preside over unethical, undisciplined forces comprised of cops who protect the bad actors in the department to uphold the fraternal code. (The Minneapolis cop charged with third-degree murder in the death of the apprehended George Floyd had 18 previous complaints about his conduct in uniform in his personnel file). This, rather than cleaning house, extracting the dangerous cops from the roster and finding ways to actually address racial tensions between law enforcement and young people caught in up in multi-generational hopelessness.

We’ve been told for two months to wash our hands. Turns out, Gov. Cooper and fellow Democrat governors, Democrat mayors and law enforcement leadership washed their collective hands and withdrew compassion for the most vulnerable long ago. The virus is not the worst blight on our society, after all.

 

 

 

God or Governor?

By Steve Woodward

An open letter from local clergy was published Sunday on The Pilot‘s Opinion page. The letter was signed by 26 pastors, who appear to be convinced that faith is no match for the Wuhan Virus. It is an alarming wake-up call. Far left theology schools have subjected us to a generation of pastors who embrace science and government solutions.

The letter directs congregation members of area churches to refrain from gathering prematurely, but does not reveal a target date for doing so in the future.

This is in stark contrast to the statement issued during the weekend by the executive director of the Faith & Freedom Coalition, Timothy Head:

“On behalf of the over 2 million members and supporters of the Faith & Freedom Coalition, I want to thank President (Donald) Trump for recognizing that houses of worship are essential. Thank you for calling on governors around the country to allow churches to open up and to be considered essential. The CDC has released guidelines for churches to follow as best practices to keep everyone safe and healthy.”

But this was not the tone of The Pilot joint letter.

As a people, we turn to God for courage, comfort and hope. Why would men and women of God, local pastors, sign a letter fueling more hysteria, parroting the talking points of the left and a corrupt media? Who wrote it? One of Gov. Cooper’s minions?

Most infuriating was a reference to the Holy Spirit’s guidance in the same sentence as our reliance on scientists and health care experts, who have been wrong over and over again.

Jesus admonished us to come sit at his feet, rather than hanging back with the crowd. This is what we heard from our pastors during the Season of Lent. 

Here is what the NC Constitution says about religious liberty: “All persons have a natural and inalienable right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences, and no human authority shall, in any case whatever, control or interfere with the rights of conscience”.

Are we as Christians to believe that the actions and dictates of men will decide our fate on this earth, that those who have been infected by the Wuhan Virus, or succumbed to it, were not pre-destined in accordance with God’s will? That’s what Christians believe and millions of free Americans adhere to that thinking. If eternal life is the end game, why cower in fear, or live under a false presumption of safety, amid this or any other health crisis during our earthly journey?

Stay solvent

By Steve Woodward
The North Carolina General Assembly unanimously allocated $1.6 billion to fund Wuhan Virus relief programs two weeks ago. The money was sourced out of a pot of $4 billion sent down from Washington through the federal CARES Act.
Although no explanation as to the timing was offered, two bills were filed in the state Senate only last Thursday to tap into those federal funds in an effort to rescue state restaurants crippled by dine-in restrictions.
Return America
A Return America rally in Raleigh, Jones Street, May 14, 2020, coincided with a lawsuit filing that later overturned Gov. Cooper’s ban on worship service gatherings.

The Save Our Restaurants Act proposes the appropriation of $125 million, with $50 million targeting “restaurant stabilization”, and $75 million targeting “hotel stabilization”. The bill for whatever reason proclaims compassion for restaurants but allocates more money to hotels, many of which never have closed. In fact hotels are open while churches subsequently were ordered to close by Democrat Gov. Roy Cooper. (Saturday, a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order overturning church closures after a lawsuit was filed by Return America with the support of Republican state Rep. Keith Kidwell, D-79).

The genesis of the hotel-restaurant bill, and a parallel bill to support expansion of mixed beverage sales to take-out and delivery orders, will come as a surprise to Republicans, the party of small business and free-market capitalism. The two bills’ sponsors are Senate Democrats, Jay Chaudhuri (D-15, Wake County) and first-termer Harper Peterson (D-9, New Hanover), himself a restaurant owner.
Upon closer inspection, the Save bill is not likely to be a game changer for independent restaurants relegated to take-out service the past two months and facing deeply felt uncertainty going forward. If there is a forward. The most any restaurant will be loaned under the bill’s current language is $50,000. That’s right, it’s not even a typical Democrat bailout. It’s a loan at 3.5% interest. The bill is so weak that it gives Republicans an opening to counter it with a bill that actually sustains restaurants. It’s a no-brainer.
“I wish more of our (state) officials would get out and the realize the damage, and stop looking to the federal branch to fix things,” a Moore County chef told me. “They seem to think we will just bounce back.”
A glimmer of optimism was delivered Monday by Gov. Cooper, who described himself as “hopeful” that his incremental re-opening plan for small business will move into a long awaited Phase 2 this Saturday. Cooper also, for the first time, said he would consider regional re-openings as he stated the obvious, that “it’s important to cushion the blow to the economy.”
The blow was struck weeks ago, in reality, and will only come into sharper view as state tax revenues begin to crater. Furthermore, Cooper continues to insist that Phase 2 would extend four to six weeks, leaving already suffocating restaurants, salons and fitness clubs operating at reduced capacity. For eateries, dine-in or patio seating at 50% for an excruciating month or longer will hardly launch a turnaround and will keep employment way down.
The worst case scenario is not that people will die indefinitely from complications from the Wuhan Virus. Even the most extreme doomsayers are not pushing that narrative. Worst case is that businesses of longstanding close, never to return, even as the state sits on billions of federal relief that has not been allocated, and even as state lawmakers flirt with crushing debt by the temptation of receiving another round. The Democrats in Washington have created a new bailout monstrosity carrying a $3 trillion price tag (but it never will clear the Senate).
“When considering how best to structure federal aid, I think the best image to keep in mind is a shock absorber,” wrote John Hood, chairman of the Raleigh-based John Locke Foundation. “As a condition for accepting any new round of federal funds, (state) governments should be required to restate their unfunded liabilities using honest accounting and then submit a clear plan for discharging the debt.”
This is essentially what legitimately small businesses are required to do if they were among those who managed to apply for and receive funds under the bungled Paycheck Protection Program via the original $2.2 trillion CARES Act. If it turns out they do not have enough employees left to use 75% of the PPP for payroll, the money received converts from a grant to a loan. For many, it’s not a matter of staying safe but staying solvent.

Indignation contagion

By Steve Woodward

Masks are being worn by compliant citizens in our community at an ever increasing rate. Some motorists are even donning masks while driving. In their own vehicles. Without passengers.

masksThe upside to this rather odd habit is that said drivers are masking expressions of indignation, which has become a permanent facial condition for many. Even as the Wuhan Virus continues to disrupt daily life and destroy small businesses, a secondary illness has come to the fore — staggering numbers are foregoing personal freedom and unalienable rights in the name of “safety”. Stay safe. What does it mean? Nobody really knows. But it’s the right thing to say in “uncertain times”, apparently. A media driven narrative strikes again. Those who do not assume safety is a birthright have targets on our backs.

The presumption of safety and the delusion of certainty are woven more deeply into the fabric of the American culture than we knew, as demonstrated by the hysteria and tyranny-to-the-rescue solutions of recent weeks. The United States was not founded on either presumption. In fact, it could not have been founded by men paralyzed by fear. They viewed the world in quite opposite terms. Thomas Jefferson specified a preference for dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery.

A tee shirt enshrining Jefferson’s words can be purchased via Amazon. Sadly, fewer Americans than ever seem inclined to wear one. It now appears certain that the weapons unleashed to battle the Wuhan Virus will remain intact long after virus hysteria has subsided. Democrat governors such as North Carolina’s Roy Cooper will feed on a permanent indignant class that embraces peaceful slavery in the name of safety.

Masks forever. Social distancing as a norm. No handshakes. No hugs. No salad bars. No buffets. Permanent requirements to register body temperatures of airline passengers and sports fans. No high fives, or low fives. No church communion. And these are merely the behavioral issues that some will want to impose, even absent edicts from Democrat lawmakers. Just because they know best.

The comfortably enslaved also will cheer for punishing lawsuits post-Wuhan aimed at everything imaginable, but especially products and companies that might have exposed innocent souls to the “deadly” virus. Also: higher hourly wages for employees of businesses that were bailed out (and falsely presumed to be awash with cash); or, permanent $600-a-week federal unemployment benefits for those who prefer to make a minimum of $15 per hour by staying at home. Which raises another one. Staying at home as a way of life? Just in case. No cozy cafes. No theaters. No street fairs. No cruise ships. No pilates classes. Heck, no classes, period.

A government large enough to give you everything we (think we) need, including absolute safety via rolling quarantines, is large enough to take everything we have, materially and ideologically, especially if we fail to stand up to it.

“The absolute worst part of the COVID-19 pandemic, and possibly its most unrecoverable damage, is the massive power that Americans have given to their federal, state and local governments to regulate our lives in the name of protecting our health,” writes syndicated columnist and George Mason University economics professor Walter E. Williams. “Taking back that power should be the most urgent component of our recovery efforts.”

Aided by hysterical throngs, Democrat governors Cooper, Andrew Cuomo (NY), Gavin Newsom (CA), Ralph Northam (VA) and Gretchen Whitmer (MI), to name some of the worst, are demonstrating they will be hesitant to relinquish the power they’ve claimed in recent weeks. In Michigan, a Republican-led legislature filed suit May 6 against Whitmer, seeking to force an end to orders that have closed down many nonessential businesses and largely confined residents to their homes. Whitmer is a power grabber.

In California, Newsom faces no such legal challenge. Knowing that, he moved the goalposts this week just as restrictions on citizens and the economy were about to ease. He declared nothing will be normal until such time as immunity to and a vaccine against the Wuhan Virus becomes reality. Newsom encouraged counties to override any easing of behavioral restrictions as they see fit. He has ceded martial law to the counties. Now that’s leadership.

Will Cooper be next? Friday, North Carolina enters “Phase One” of his plan to re-open the state’s economy. This will “allow” more retail activity for small businesses, but it keeps restaurants closed for at least two more weeks. Restaurant owners are pleading with Republicans in the North Carolina General Assembly to help, but they have largely been met with silence. Lawmakers simply do not seem to have the will to take on the indignant class, which clearly has drawn people from both parties. They know best.

The reality is that freedom, too, is essential to health and welfare and is far more powerful than government responses to a pandemic. This was driven home by a letter in the Wall Street Journal by a Michigan reader. He quoted patriot John Locke: “This freedom from absolute, arbitrary power, is so necessary to, and closely joined with a man’s preservation, that he cannot part with it.”

World history largely has been defined by human suffering, plague and tyranny. The American experiment proves that this does not have to be. Those who will yield everything to government to achieve “safety” in the 21st century ignore this history. Draw the battle lines. Let’s get on with it.