“Outside agitators.” The very term reminds those of us of a certain age of the Civil Rights Movement, when anybody coming from outside the South to suggest that the South’s segregation and treatment of African-American citizens was somehow un-American, un-constitutional, un-Christian. And they could be dismissed (or worse) because they were an “outsider.”
So it is especially disconcerting to hear Gov. Pat McCrory describe those of us coming to Moral Monday rallies as “outsiders.” And then his ignorance is exposed for the untruth that it is when WRAL-TV examines the demographics of those who have been arrested and discovers that 98% are from North Carolina. That’s right, only eight out of 366 arrestees are from out-of-state, and almost all of those are from adjacent southern states.
Now some of those calling us “outsiders” are saying that they were talking about all 1,500-1,600 of those demonstrating, not just the arrestees. I’ve been at the last three Moral Mondays, and for me it has been like a Council of Churches meeting, almost like a family reunion. I’ve see lots of North Carolina faith leaders. I can’t say that no non-Carolinians have sneaked across the borders to support our rallies for prophetic social justice, but I can guarantee that there have been a whole lot of people from NC, including faith leaders, who have come to rally against legislative and gubernatorial efforts to take our state back decades into our past.
But, since Gov. McCrory has raised the issue of outsiders messing in North Carolina issues, let’s talk about that. A letter to the editor last week pointed out that the Governor, Speaker Tillis, and Senate leader Berger all hail from other states, two of them – gasp! – in the North. Many of the most egregious pieces of legislation this year have been sent into our state by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a national organization promoting corporate special-interest legislation around the country. And an article in the News & Observer at the end of last week reported on outside spending which almost certainly determined the outcome of a crucial judicial race in NC last fall.
So, if we are going to denigrate the opinions and activities of “outsiders,” let’s be consistent about it. I dare say that we Moral Monday folks would be willing trade our eight out-of-state arrestees for an agreement by state leaders to stop promoting ALEC bills and accepting campaign money from outside the state.
–George Reed, Executive Director