It seems like WRAL has film of NAACP president William Barber every day. They give him face time if he’s standing on the street BY HIMSELF. They’ll cover a “press conference” that includes him and four others. His antics over redistricting of Wake County schools did little to nothing to help poor or minority kids, but were a big cause of the chaos currently engulfing the school system. The mainstream media likes to paint Barber and his organization as a source of unification and harmony. But at the drop of cheeseburger or the rip of a pair of stretched-tight 8XL pants, William Barber can get statewide publicity and stir up TONS of chaos and animosity.
Barber’s latest “victory” involves getting the McCrory administration to order the yanking of a Confederate flag from a historical exhibit at the old State Capitol commemorating the sesquicentennial (150th anniversary) of The War Between The States. (It’s interesting that several media outlets refer to Barber as “civil rights leaders.” Is the AP stylebook now requiring that you pluralize references to loudmouths who weigh in at a half-ton or more? )
Let’s see what Gov. Pat got for his trouble here. He caved in to the demands of someone who WILL NEVER campaign for him or vote for him. He backed down to pressure from a man who takes pleasure in making conservatives and Republicans look bad. Gov. Pat appears to have ticked off a group of people that were likely with him in 2012, and he will NEED in 2016. Thomas Smith, commander of the North Carolina Division of The Sons of Confederate Veterans, has tossed his two cents in on this flag fiasco:
Governor Pat McCrory is, from all accounts, a man dedicated to helping North Carolina move ahead. However, on Friday, March 29, 2013, he made a serious mistake. At first glance, maybe ordering (through his Secretary of Cultural Resources) the removal of an historical exhibit of period flags from the historic old State Capitol might seem like a minor concern. After all, we’re not talking about the budget, roads, or schools. But the removal of that exhibit–and to be precise, removing the historic Confederate Battle Flag–because of political pressure from an individual, Rev. William Barber of the NAACP, who has never supported McCrory in anything and most likely never will, is both an error historically and politically.
The purpose of the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, and in particular its Historic Sites Division, in this exhibit, was to portray the exact way the old Capitol looked during the tragic War Between the States period (1861-1865), and to do so with balance in the context of our lived history. After all, the old Capitol is an historic site and serves as a museum; the legislature meets over in the newer Legislative Building, and only very rarely uses the 1840 Capitol building ceremonially.
Accordingly, historical flags of the period were hung upstairs in the House chamber of the historic State Capitol as a part of an exhibit (not in Governor McCrory’s office downstairs at the far end of the building). Signage and docents were there to conduct tours and inform visitors about that painful period. As part of the sesquicentennial commemoration, the exhibit was scheduled to be there until the end of observances in 2015.
This, as explained Historic Sites director Keith Hardison, was entirely correct historically, since such flags did indeed hang in the old Capitol during the historical period. The object, very clearly, was to represent our history–ALL of our history, including some items and symbols that not everyone might approve of today and that might be painful to some.
As Hardison pointed out, the historian’s role is not to censure the past, but to portray and illustrate it as accurately as possible. On the contrary, the NAACP president, Rev. Barber, apparently sees himself as the unelected arbiter of anything and everything in our state, including real and tangible portions of our collective history that he interprets as “offensive.” He complained loudly that the Battle Flag should not be displayed in the old Capitol, even though it was part of a strictly historical display and not displayed in any political or offensive manner. He insisted it had to go.
This is where the misguided action of the Governor’s Office, acting through Governor Pat McCrory’s Secretary of Cultural Resources, makes this issue much more than the usual complaint by Reverend Barber. The caving into political pressure by the governor and his secretary is very troubling. From a simple political consideration, Governor McCrory must know that there is absolutely no way that he can ever placate Barber politically.
But more disturbingly, this action, for all the misplaced good intentions that Governor McCrory and his secretary may well have had, indicates that the highly contagious infection of “political correctness” and the willingness to censor our history if a pressure group shouts loud enough has reached the halls of power in Raleigh.
Applying a litmus test to whether a portion of our history can be displayed at a state historic site, even if that portion is essential to understanding our history, is the worst kind of censorship. Such action is not worthy of our governor, certainly not of a governor who wants to represent our state, its people, and all its history.
Earlier, I applauded McCrory for just saying NO to identity politics. But I will have to consider a retraction — considering this debacle. Rev. Round & Loud will — to paraphrase the words of Chris Tucker in “Rush Hour” — never, never, never, never, never ever back off the GOP or McCrory. Barber and his small group of lefties will take this victory and continue to swing away at the next opportunity to embarrass the state’s new Republican chief executive.
This could have been a GREAT “Sister Souljah” moment for Team McCrory, where they could have told the Round Rev to shove it, and shored up their already weary and dispirited right flank. But, no. They chose a quick and dirty surrender that boosted the morale and enthusiasm of the, um, loyal opposition. Let’s say Barber denounces every forthcoming GOP policy initiative as “racist” or “insensitive.” Will Team McCrory stick with this “cave” strategy? If they do, what was the point of voting for them in 2012? What will be the point of voting to reelect Gov. Pat in 2016?