Book explores Trump’s election victory

Want to know why Donald Trump won the 2016 election in one of the most stunning upsets in American history?

Some blame Russian meddling. Some blame Hilary Clinton for running a bad campaign. Some may blame the increasingly radical politics and tactics of certain Democrats.

Don’t judge the book, read the book: ‘Liberal Redneck’ brings wellRED tour to WCU

What Trae Crowder, Drew Morgan and Corey Ryan Forrester are doing is artistically and politically groundbreaking in the world of comedy.

Known worldwide as the “Liberal Redneck,” Crowder and his touring/writing partners on their “wellRED” tour rolled into the Bardo Arts Center at Western Carolina University on Oct. 29. Performing to a packed audience, the comedians presented their completely unique — and increasingly popular — brand of southern comedy.

McCoy alleges political motivation in marriage fraud prosecution

While the federal marriage fraud case that’s been the topic of much discussion on the Qualla Boundary over the past year is winding down, FBI activity in Cherokee is likely to continue. 

Jackson health, DSS organization will be an election issue

After nearly a year of public hearings, votes and contentious meetings, Jackson County’s health and social services departments are back where they started — sort of. 

What happened to true conservatives?

By Martin Dyckman • Guest Columnist

The two most abused and misused words in America are “conservative” and “populist.” Politicians and the media are the grossest offenders. 

Safire’s Political Dictionary defines “conservative” as “a defender of the status quo who, when change becomes necessary in tested institutions or practices, prefers that it come slowly, in moderation.” It also came to stand for resistance, sometimes rational, sometimes not, to taxes and regulations. What all American conservatives shared, however, was a healthy concern over the potential abuse of political power. They also venerated the Constitution and all of our fundamental institutions.

Americans know better, even if Trump doesn’t

We native-born Americans — most of us, anyway — have no real concept of life under a despot except from what we read. We have been raised on a daily diet of liberty and cut our teeth on the right to free speech. Because of that, it’s not surprising that our appreciation for these cornerstones of our democratic and civil society may sometimes dull. 

That’s why Donald Trump’s continued attacks on the press as the enemy of the people should be treated by all as an assault on core American values. No one thinks Trump will ever become a maniacal totalitarian, but knowingly or unknowingly he’s using their tactics in ways that could damage what most of us hold dear. That’s more than just a little troubling.

Targeted ads hit Clampitt early

November’s General Election is still months away, but that hasn’t stopped the North Carolina Association of Educators from coming hard after freshman Rep. Mike Clampitt, R-Bryson City. 

No harm in striving to understand each person

By Hannah McLeod • Guest Columnist

Do not decry this generation for pushing the boundaries of respect/understanding/acceptance. 

People today like to deride certain aspects of our generation. They speak sarcastically about how “everyone has to have their own place, everyone is individual and unique, everyone deserves safe spaces.” As if this is somehow inherently wrong or a bogus notion. 

Greens make the grade: Ballot access boosts third parties

This fall, voters in North Carolina will be treated to a new choice at the polls come election day. 

Schools have become political battlegrounds

By John deVille • Guest Columnist

Given all the challenges and unwarranted criticism those of us who work in public education must endure, I am hesitant to publicly chastise a fellow educator. But the positions taken by Haywood County Schools Interim Superintendent Dr. Bill Nolte in a recent blog post lead me to take exception.

Dr. Nolte’s post outlined his (and by extension, the entire HCS district) positions concerning the national movement of student walkouts, which are motivated by the lack of legislative response to school shootings which have visited so many campuses since 1999. 

Dr. Nolte characterized the walkouts as a “tool being applied to advance a political agenda,” that an unnamed “political organization” is behind the movement.

The walkouts are certainly are an effective awareness-raising tool and, as they are designed to influence changes in legislation, they are inherently political. What’s so wrong about that? 

I’m unclear as to what unnamed “political organization” Dr. Nolte refers. There are the nearly 200,000 students who have been on a school campus since 1999 and who have been terrorized by a school shooting. There are their parents, the teachers, and citizens who are saying “Enough,” and who have come together to demand responsible gun ownership laws. Are they the sinister organization of which Dr. Nolte writes?

Dr. Nolte’s view of the situation is that this unnamed organization’s mission is to “encourage students to walk out of school.” This is perhaps the most distressing part of the post — the dismissive insinuation that students aren’t moral agents in and of themselves. Dr. Nolte seems to believe that students networking with other students is beyond their ability, that they cannot be inspired by the behavior of other students to confront legislators across the country. 

Students can be inspired to do stupid things by other students; and they can be inspired to take a leadership role where adults have largely failed. While students may not have the right to vote, we certainly try to teach students advocacy skills which need not hibernate until they are 18.  

While I understand Dr. Nolte’s desire to minimize conflict on middle and high school campuses which already face so many challenges, his move to stifle student political speech, specifically to quash a mid-day student walkout focused on creating awareness and political pressure leading to reform in gun legislation, is troubling. 

Dr. Nolte categorically stated that Haywood students are “not interested in political agendas.” 

That assertion stands in glaring contrast to Tuscola High junior Grace Feichter who said:

“After I heard about the shooting at Parkland, I was devastated. We had a discussion about the national walkout and if we would be interested in having one at our school, and everybody said absolutely yes.”  

Dr. Nolte’s statement does not comport with Tuscola student McKenzie Yazan who said: 

“I think that it’s definitely not more guns in schools,” she said. “Personally I think that we need to have more reforms and background checks for people wishing to buy a gun.”

Both students’ statements are overtly political as they must be if any meaningful change is to occur. 

Dr. Nolte laments that schools are becoming “political battlefields” and vows to forestall any such efforts in that direction in Haywood County Schools. That is a most puzzling and unfortunate stance.

Schools are, almost by definition in 2018, “political battlefields.” 

Dr. Nolte may recall the spring of 2016 when the Haywood community marched to raise awareness for the sad closing of Central Elementary, due in part to budget cuts by Raleigh. We all marched — parents, teachers, administrators, board members, myself, and yes, students. No, it wasn’t during the school day, but the school was certainly the battlefield. 

What else can our schools be expected to become in a democracy other than a political battlefield when the lack of responsible gun laws have significantly contributed to our schools becoming war zones? 

A simple act of a walkout, whether sanctioned by the administration or not, is a rather measured and reasonable response to the gun violence and terror which has gripped our campuses. Dr. Nolte’s concerns about student safety during a potential walkout must be relegated to the red herring bin as that activity is no more dangerous than administratively-sanctioned activities Haywood County high school students engage in every day. 

The list of tasks which public school educators are called to fulfill is daunting, and I certainly do not envy Dr. Nolte’s tremendous responsibilities. I have the greatest respect for him and for anyone else who has provided a lifetime of service to educating and mentoring young people into adulthood. While it is certainly less messy to go full hamster ball and try to wall the school campus off from the political tides of the day, perhaps it is time to follow the military admonition to “embrace the suck,” to accept what might be unpleasant but what is unavoidable, especially when this particular political debate so directly impacts the students themselves and when they are proving that they are the most eloquent and forceful voices in the debate. 

(John deVille is a former Macon County Teacher of the Year and has taught social studies at Franklin High School since 1996.) 

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