Archived Opinion

N.C. conservatives go off the deep end

north carolinaBy Martin Dyckman • Guest Columnist

There are two major strains of conservatism in American politics, economic and social, and the former takes hideous advantage of the latter.

A case in point: North Carolina’s House Bill 2.

For the first time in the history of the world, a legislative body was called into emergency session to address the question of who may use public bathrooms.

The City of Charlotte, a beacon of humanity, had amended its laws to say that transgendered persons may use the facilities in which they feel comfortable. This offended some people who don’t understand or don’t care to understand the agonies of people trapped in alien bodies.

And in Raleigh, the leaders of the General Assembly — a gang experienced in exploiting prejudices for political gain — promptly called the special session to forbid Charlotte, or any other city, from enacting a similar policy.

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Transgendered people are now condemned to use the bathrooms corresponding to the sex on their birth certificates, which can be changed only after the considerable expense and travail of sex-change surgery.

But the General Assembly didn’t stop there. The legislation also forbids local governments from enacting minimum wage policies. It bars them from adopting any legal protection for gays and lesbians. And it also renders toothless the existing state law against workplace discrimination based on race, religion, color, national origin, age, sex or handicap by employers that regularly employ 15 or more employees. It does this by denying victims of such discrimination the right to sue in state courts.

So if you are fired because you are too old, or because the boss doesn’t like your race or religion, you can appeal only to an essentially impotent state agency or to the bureaucratic and tedious processes of the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

No member of the public was warned of this consequence. No one had an opportunity to oppose it during the less than 10 hours that was the entire span of its introduction, “debate,” and passage. Pat McCrory, the most ineffective governor in North Carolina’s recent history, signed it before public opinion could be brought to bear on him.

In the guise of addressing a social issue — which was a phony one to begin with — the legislature stripped vital economic protection from millions of North Carolinians.

Even as business interests as diverse as Wells Fargo and the NCAA have railed against the act, the state chamber of commerce was and remains conspicuously silent. Its silence appears to have been bought by the sneak attack on workers’ rights.

This is how the stooges of the right-wing business and anti-tax lobbies have beguiled voters all across the country. With one side of their mouths, they exploit prejudices. With the other they serve the selfish agendas of the 1 percent.

In the national arena, Ted Cruz poses as the savior of social and religious conservatives. He’s also the author of a tax scheme that would cripple them — and all middle-and low-income people — in order to grant billions of dollars in tax cuts to the very rich.

It is said that you can’t fool all of the people all of the time. That remains to be seen.

(Martin A. Dyckman lives in Western North Carolina and is a frequent contributor to The Smoky Mountain News. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..)

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