This week's Moral Monday protest, at Marshall Park, was an invigorating eye-opener, a ray of hope for local progressives, a creative display of placards and signs, and a definite reminder that, at least in the South, religion is a strong, essential part of the progressive spectrum. It was also a bit disappointing.
After the shit storm the right wing doofs in Raleigh have dropped on the state, it was heartening to see so many people, including a surprising number of local Democratic politicians, taking a public stand and making their presence known. The current repressive tea party regime has diminished our state in so many ways - including the wrecking of North Carolina's national reputation for being a reasonable place - local progressives needed a shot in the arm, and they got one. Speaker after speaker, representing a mix of liberal groups that could easily be called the Coalition of the Shit-Upon, lambasted McCrory, Thom Tillis and Bob "Bulldog" Rucho for the destructive tea party agenda they've shoved down the state's collective throat. People onstage led chants and slogans, joked, rapped a bit, danced a little, and urged the crowd, over and over, to take every opportunity to vote.
Protesters showed up with a forest of creative signs. This professional editor noted that all the signs I read (which was most of them) were spelled correctly and made grammatical sense. Compare that to the tea party's 2009 parade of ignorance ("Get government out of my Medicare") and hilarious spelling errors ("Obama, Read the Cositution," "Respect Are Country, Speke English," "No Pubic Option!"), local progressives' literacy was a genuine relief. Here are some favorite signs from the protest:
* A drawing of a woman's reproductive plumbing, saying, "Don't Tread On Me."
* Art Pope in Darth Vader helmet, called, of course, "Art Vader."
* A Confederate flag on which were superimposed photos of McCrory, Tillis, and Senate leader Phil Berger, under the phrase "Jim Crow Family Reunion."
* "Pat, keep the cookies. I'll take a raise."
* "Welcome to North Carolina. Set clocks back 50 Years."
* "Can I get my next pap smear in the governor's office?"
* "NC GOP: Riding the Popemobile."
If anyone had forgotten, or, worse, didn't know, that the civil rights movement was largely led by preachers and their allies, Moral Monday was a refresher course. As Rev. Dwayne Walker of Charlotte's Little Rock AME Zion Church delivered the keynote speech, 30 or so other local religious leaders - Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim - stood on, and in front of, the stage as the rally reached a peak of enthusiasm. A later speaker also thanked "our atheist supporters" who showed up, keeping the latest trend in the lefty coalition happy.
The disappointment for me was in the size of the crowd, which was a little over 2,000 people. Those who were there were very enthusiastic, and most people seemed to leave the event motivated and happy, but yeah, I was expecting about double the number that actually showed up. Maybe age had something to do with my disappointment. Some of my thoughts yesterday were certainly geezerish, such as, "Back during the Vietnam War, if you couldn't get at least 10,000 people to your local demonstration, it was considered a dud." At that point, though, I remembered that in the Vietnam era, people generally didn't have to work multiple jobs to make ends meet, so they had more time for protests. So, I told myself, shut up and drive home. Which I did, but not before running into County Commission Chair Pat Cotham. I thanked the diminutive Cotham for firing Harry Jones as county manager, and after a discussion of the issues facing the commission, she emphatically stated, "I'm not finished yet," and walked away. But that's the beginning of another story, probably to be continued in the fall.
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