I asked for the key to the men’s room at my regular coffee shop a few days after HB2 was signed into law and NC solidified its status, alongside Mississippi, as bellwethers of atavism. “Do you have a birth certificate?” the friendly barista asked. Sarah’s my regular barista. She lives on the comic rather than tragic side of life’s drama. She’s young enough to be my daughter.
“I’ll willingly submit to a gear check of my biological sex,” I said.
“That’s an unwanted sexual comment that could be considered sexual harassment,” she smiled and handed me my coffee.
“Apologies; you do know the law,” I said, “especially when it comes to laws governing sex and bathrooms.”
“HB2 has got nothing to do with either,” she said. “It’s another example of politics of the deserving and undeserving. Paranoid people with power have to find classes of people that deserve to be put down: blacks, women, LGBT community, immigrants, Muslims—it doesn’t matter. Punish the ‘undeserving.’ Protect the power.”
“Awesome analysis,” I said. “Did you vote?”
“Voted and volunteered!” She showed me her bag and Bernie button. “Today capitalism has outlived its usefulness. It has brought about a system that takes necessities from the masses to give luxuries to the classes.”
“Sounds like vintage Bernie,” I said.
“Martin Luther King in a letter to Coretta in 1952,” she corrected.
“You’re definitely not part of the Confederacy of Dunces that’s turning Governor McCrory into a true genius.” I sipped coffee, smiled and headed off to work more optimistic about our future than I had a right to be.
It was an interesting quote from Martin Luther King—partly because of the nearness to the April 4 anniversary of King’s assassination. Partly because I heard about the passage of the McCrory administration’s latest primitive piece of multi-dimensional discrimination after Father Ron’s inspiring Maundy Thursday sermon. Ron reminded folks about the Last Supper’s New Commandment: “Love one another as I have loved you.”
I can’t imagine Ron, Martin Luther King or Jesus adding, “And if you have to pee, show me your birth certificate or proof of biological sex—and don’t even try to file a lawsuit about discrimination! Protect the power, brothers! Protect the power!”
There is no need to waste words bashing Governor McCrory about this latest adventure in discrimination legislation. Plenty of people are doing that. Frankly, I’m tired of reading about what an idiot our governor is. Jonathan Swift wrote, “When a true genius appears, you will know him by this sign, that all the dunces are in a confederacy against him.” With so many people down on our governor, I’m starting to think he may actually be a true genius. McCrory didn’t sneak into the state capitol. He didn’t hide his incestuous connections to the energy industry or big business. He told us exactly what he planned to do in office. McCrory won the 2012 election by over 500,000 votes—an 11-percent margin. That’s true genius.
As much as I agree with the sentiment behind #WeAreNotThis, folks, the ugly truth is, we are this—or at least until November. McCrory and his crew are in office now partly because of lazy liberals like me, perhaps self-satisfied with electing the first black president we may have forgotten electing geniuses like McCrory to governors’ mansions or local boards of election assures discrimination legislation will continue to be signed, and slavery will be taught as “early immigration.”
Governor McCrory deserves a lot of credit. He has sparked a long overdue national debate about public restroom policy. By gutting social programs, blatant racial gerrymandering, and repealing the Racial Justice Act, he helped found the Moral Monday Movement. He helped resurrect NC’s dying liberal class, too, and that’s true genius. We can all laugh when John Oliver pillories our state yet again, but more of us lazy liberals probably need to engage in civil disobedience with Rev. Barber on Monday mornings.
I’m no genius, but I do remember, “all politics is local.” Lazy liberals may be as dangerous to democracy as any homophobic christofascist. Governors’ mansions, state houses, and boards of education across the country are more vital to the evolution of democracy than a high-profile circus that passes itself off as a presidential election.