Stay safe, Mr. Columbus

By Steve Woodward

The next time you walk past a statue honoring a historic figure, you might consider uttering a phrase now very much in vogue: Stay safe. Seems an odd thing to say to one as courageous as Christopher Columbus but, suddenly, statues are almost as endangered as city storefronts and American flags. Portraits and plaques, you’re next.

Destroying private property and erasing American history are part of Antifa’s far left, two-pronged assault strategy, with plenty of backup from Democrat mayors, governors and their fellow radicals in Congress. A mob in Birmingham, Ala., was struggling to tear down a Confederate Soldiers and Sailors monument when none other than the city’s Democrat mayor showed up to help them finish the job.

Meanwhile, how about the corporate virtue signaling? Perhaps the day soon will come when all of the images on grocery store packaging will be masked, just in case someone decides the Keebler elves are offensive to short people. Will Col. Sanders be transitioning to gray or beige suits? Or maybe the solution is East German-era generic shelf stocking. There will be an aisle on which every box is labeled RICE; another where your choices are SYRUP or SYRUP.

And no more choosing between Mattel’s Barbie and Ken. This just in: Ken is Barbie. Woke.

Such crass chuckling will get your house burned to the ground in 2020. But what honest person can deny needing a break from the unrelenting madness sweeping our besieged nation?

It would all be laugh out loud hilarious if it was not so dangerous. Conservative author and former Republican Presidential candidate Patrick Buchanan published in 2011 a book entitled “Suicide of a Superpower: Will American Survive to 2025?” He wrote, “America will be gone” in a few decades. “In its place will arise a country unrecognizable to our parents.”

His question targeting 2025 now appears prophetic. Remember how mainstream media shrieked when, during an earlier round of statue toppling a few years ago, President Donald Trump remarked that monuments to Washington and Jefferson would be next? That will never happen, said these keen cultural observers. Don’t be ridiculous, Orange Man.

Sadly, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson have both gone down with a thud in Portland, Ore.  Jefferson soon will disappear in Decatur, Ga., and New York City Hall. A Washington statue in Chicago was vandalized amid calls for its removal. (How about removing the Democrats who preside, week after week, over black versus black violence in the streets?)

Columbus has not been spared. He was torn from a pedestal in St. Paul, Minn. He was beheaded in Boston. And submerged in a lake in Richmond, Va.

The destruction is not limited to the famous. Three plaques honoring confederate soldiers have been removed from the University of Alabama’s campus library. A monument commemorating more than 1,600 confederate soldiers who died in Civil War prisoner camps controlled by the Union army is coming down in Indianapolis.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ordered the removal of portraits of four former Speakers to wrap up her week. The corrupt media will not mention that all four are Democrats who defended slavery. So what took so long, Nance? Howell Cobb of Georgia was born on a plantation and became a raging secessionist. James Orr of South Carolina was a member of a three-person commission sent to Washington in 1861 to negotiate a truce with President James Buchanan to avert civil war. Before they left town, artillery fire was tearing apart Fort Sumter in the Charleston Harbor. The war had begun.

The chapters of American history represented by these many suddenly repulsive monuments and portraits across our land have been in place, in many cases, for a century or more. The rage that suddenly casts them as unbearable and offensive drips with hypocrisy. But if virtually everything is, as the mobs insist, blatantly racist, from Washington, Jefferson, Columbus, Robert E. Lee, and anyone who ever wore a Confederate uniform or raised the Confederacy’s flag, where does it end? The next growing movement is the renaming of every building ever dedicated to honor a person’s memory.

If this folly absolutely must happen to quell vandalism and violence, might we suggest starting with the Russell Senate office building. Richard B. Russell, Jr., was a lifelong Democrat who was Governor of Georgia and a U.S. Senator for nearly four decades. He was twice a candidate for President (1948 and ’52). He opposed civil rights legislation at every turn, and led a Southern boycott of the 1964 Democrat National Convention to protest the signing into law of the Civil Rights Act by President Lyndon Johnson.

If not the Russell building, then what? A suggestion floating around is to name it the Hiram Revels building. Revels, a Republican, was our nation’s first black U.S. Senator (1870), representing Mississippi, although he was born a free man in Fayetteville, N.C. He spent much of his adult life as a minister, following in the footsteps of his father. Revels surely would have applauded the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

He paved the way forward as the Republican Party emerged as the anti-slavery, civil rights party. In fact, the 1964 Act never would have made it to Johnson’s desk without 80 percent-plus support by Republicans in the House and Senate.

 

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.

 

 

 

The long game

By Steve Woodward

It is impossible to understand what religious persecution feels like until it comes home to a free land. It feels surreal. Worshipping inside the four walls of a church this past Sunday with a small gathering of Christians marked the first time I have experienced this horrible feeling. We were where we were not supposed to be, doing what we were not supposed to do in the company of others — praying, singing, contemplating scripture.

“Stay at home,” decreed North Carolina Democrat tyrant and Governor Roy Cooper back in March, joining governors across the nation imposing mass shutdowns to slow the spread of the Wuhan Virus. Cooper’s order specifically prohibits gathering for religious services in churches, or for that matter, anywhere. Dutifully, the churches closed and adopted streaming video services, excluding those most in need of their church community, the ones without internet or the know-how to use a device to access it.

There was so much outrage about businesses that were forcibly closed, hospital procedures that were deemed unnecessary and the suspension of education inside classrooms that the trampling of a Constitutional right to assemble and worship God was all but overlooked. This should never have happened. Churches should have been granted the freedom to make their own decisions about how to conduct services amid virus hysteria, using the same formula that determines how many people can enter a grocery store.

We know the left has poisoned higher education and K-12 education. We know the corporate-owned media has been coopted and is corrupt and compliant. We know voting integrity is increasingly at risk as the left becomes ever more brash about rigging elections. We know the courts have been packed with activist judges to render the will of the American voter meaningless (see NC voter ID lawsuits). And now, sadly, we must acknowledge that clergy and denominational governing bodies apparently have been similarly hijacked. Where was the outrage when Cooper abruptly banned church services? There was none expressed by the church where I am a member.

Thankfully, along came one pastor who stood up, opened the doors of his church and exercised his rights as a U.S. citizen.

This came in stark contrast to John Nagy’s Sunday column in The Pilot. The virus is “everywhere,” he wrote, failing to specify his source, scientific or otherwise, behind this declaration. Nagy’s was a tone of doom, of resignation that North Carolinians should not expect to live the lives we knew only a few weeks ago. Ever again. I sensed an underlying motive for writing it. This is what they’ve always hoped for in America on the left. Less freedom. More governance by edict. More social shaming of anyone who fails to comply with orders, no matter how extreme.

These ambitions were forecast as long ago as 1963 when a member of the U.S. House of Representatives placed into the Congressional Record the 45 goals of communism derived from a book recently published at the time, entitled “The Naked Communist”. Read the list here. It is clear the left has played the long game. More than a half century later the unthinkable goals they articulated are being achieved, one by one.

If we are being honest with ourselves, we must acknowledge, as Americans and as Republicans, and as North Carolinians, the Wuhan Virus appears increasingly to have spread across our world deliberately with a lot of collateral damage but one target, the United States. The U.S. economy, our health care system, our food supply, President Donald Trump, our Constitutional freedom, religious and speech freedom specifically (who will soon forget a Raleigh police officer announcing that protests are “non-essential” activities under Cooper’s iron boot orders?), and anything else the virus can disrupt along the way. Note the surge of nodding heads as the State Board of Elections turns up the volume on the necessity of 100% mail-in voting this fall. For our safety, of course.

The Wuhan Virus is exacting a sad but hardly unprecedented human toll. The broader death toll remains to be seen. The left is counting on historic carnage. God empowers us to win the war now being waged outside of labs working on vaccines, the war on liberty. Let us pray we have the courage to leverage that power so that churches, like some American businesses, do not close their doors forever.

Liberty and death

By Steve Woodward

A physician and UCLA academic writing in The Wall Street Journal lays out the near future in the clearest terms: “If we can’t shut down (the United States) for 18 months on the gamble that an effective (COVID-19) vaccine will arrive, how long will it be worth committing millions of families to poverty and uprooting lives, education and every other part of the economy?

If a life is not worth living, is it worth saving?

This is the question no one wants to ask in a thriving free society. But is must be asked.

Give me liberty or give me death. This is the original bumper sticker assigned to the American experiment. But does anyone actually embrace it? We will know soon.

Because liberty is being drained even as the Swamp stands strong. Americans are yielding rights and freedom because one person in a community, a person with many health issues, might contract COVID-19 and die. This is the justification for governors — who are more capable of denying us liberty than we previously knew — decreeing shut downs of churches, restaurants and other thriving businesses. Stay safe! Yet America was not built on the presumption of safety. We are a strong nation because we believe in God and his will, which will deliver different fates across humanity. We are a great nation because we have sent young men and women into battle, knowing many would not come back, We did not assure them of safety. We did not say, “Sign up and stay safe”.

If a life is not worth living, is it worth saving? Ronald Reagan famously said, “Our’s is a rendezvous with destiny.” And if you doubt it, look up and face destiny. Reagan didn’t say we would like it, the rendezvous. But here we are.

Is it a choice or an obligation? To preserve liberty even in the face of a health crisis? Do we stand by as the federal government plunges our society into debt? Do we stand by as governments prohibit us to assemble to worship on Easter Sunday, and beyond? Do we relinquish our God given right to be free of government tyranny?

No one knows how many will die in the weeks ahead. But now is not the time to cower in fear. Our founding fathers risked everything, their careers, their riches, their way of life, and very lives, to give birth to our nation. Today, our nation is just getting started, and again it faces turmoil.

We must ask, as did our founders, why do we want to live if life is shackled by tyrants who claim to know better than we, who threaten penalties if we hug a fellow human being, visit a restaurant or worship inside a church?

Give me liberty. Death is inevitable.

 

King Cooper

By Steve Woodward

A random tweet brought everything into focus. Twitter is derided by many but it is often a dispensary of common sense. The tweeter recognized we are going to have to come to grips as a nation with prioritizing how we help those vulnerable to COVID-19 versus how we mitigate the economic impact we impose on everybody else.

Forest Official PhotoEverybody else will take a much greater and longer lasting hit. But wait, you say. People will die. Yes, people do. Die. Every day. That’s not part of our context here. Restaurants closing under Democrat Gov. Roy Cooper’s iron-fisted executive order might never re-open. In fact, a majority will not. Jobs lost will never come back. The chains will survive, but your locally owned eateries and cafes will die, slowly, under the current scenario. I know these people. They are in disbelief.

North Carolina’s Republican Lt. Governor Dan Forest, a formidable opponent of Gov. Cooper in this fall’s election showdown, recognizes this. Forest called it out.

Earlier today Governor Cooper announced, via a press release, that all North Carolina restaurants and bars must close in-restaurant seating by 5 this evening. His mandate will devastate our economy, shutter many small businesses, and leave many people unemployed, especially in the rural areas of our state where food supply is already critical.

After the press release, and shortly before a scheduled press conference, I, along with other Council of State members, was asked to concur with the Governor’s decision with no discussion. The Governor held his press conference and made the announcement even after a majority of the Council of State voted not to concur with the Governor. Thus, he does not have the authority to issue this part of his executive order.

While I understand that all actions in a time of crisis are very difficult decisions and have many consequences, some decisions are so serious they require, by law, discussion with, and approval of, other state leaders.

Lt. Governor Dan Forest makes an important point. The necessity of closing all NC restaurants and bars might be debatable — especially if you own one — but there is no debate about this: the Governor is not a dictator who can ignore legal protocol, even in a crisis.

After his office issued a statement Forest elaborated via Twitter (@LtGovDanForest): “My statement today was about the rule of law, not about the rightness of the decision made by the Governor. Had a majority of council of state concurred with the governor, I would be in full support. … But a pandemic should not lead to unquestioned acceptance of every decision a Governor makes, especially when (his) authority to do so is anything but certain.” The Council of State has 10 members. Six opposed Cooper’s decision. All six are Republicans. He ignored them. Cooper presumes he is a king.

Roy Cooper was born into a tobacco family. He worked in the family law firm after earning his law degree from the University of North Carolina. Cooper was elected to the General Assembly in 1987. He has not held a job most of his adult life, never had to make a payroll, never had to adapt to government imposed regulations. The irony in 2020 is that Cooper is afforded the luxury of ruling by fiat because the GOP-led Assembly since 2011 has taken steps fiscally which find North Carolina sitting on a multi-billion dollar “rainy day fund”.

We are living in a time of marked extremism. We have a governor in North Carolina who would rather drain our budget surplus than let people keep their jobs and sustain their livelihoods. The suspicion — the reality — is he is taking advantage of an opportunity to expand  government control and reduce self reliance. It’s straight out of the American Left’s playbook. They’ve been waiting. China obliged.