Text from my wife, visiting her sister and niece, in California:
“Need idea for a canvas for Samantha’s new condo. Small painting they have visitors do, and hang on their wall. Something NC related.”
“Beach? Mountains? A Bathroom?”
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The sister and niece cracked up, for this is how North Carolina is now known. First in Flight, First in the Fight to Pee. Our state symbol might as well be a toilet.
Gov. Pat McCrory is right. This is a national story now. Charlotte’s Democrat Mayor Jennifer Roberts and over-reaching liberal activists, and Raleigh’s over-reacting social conservative Republicans, have wrought us a national mess.
McCrory’s warning to Charlotte back in February, before the city passed “Pee Wherever You Want,” reads a bit differently to me now. Maybe not strictly a threat but also, a plea?
Don’t pass the free-peeing ordinance, McCrory told some city council members in an email, because it “will most likely cause immediate state legislative intervention which I would support as Governor.”
I think McCrory knew he couldn’t or wouldn’t be statesman enough to stop the legislators’ response. Or even slow them down to talk about it.
He could have said, “Wait, legislature, this HB 2 goes too far. And Charlotte, you’ve gone too far. So we’re all going to sit down and talk about this.”
Instead, McCrory’s ink on HB 2 was dry an hour after it hit his desk.
Then came PayPal, Springsteen, and coast-to-coast criticism. The Obama administration threatened. McCrory, needing to fire up social conservatives for November, sued. The president, needing to finally deliver for the Left, counter-sued and raised the stakes to an absurd level. While talk of LGBT protection is valid and fears have been blown out of proportion, it is taunting already agitated political sensibilities for the president to use this moment to push the federal government into local school bathrooms.
Now, even McCrory’s expansive assessment of the scope of this swirl is too small. North Carolina’s HB 2 has gone global. The European Union has spoken against it. This is not helpful. The only thing that could fuel conservatives in this fight more than the legacy-building Mr. Obama is the godless, liberal European Union getting involved. Unless – has the United Nations weighed in?
And the governor who wouldn’t talk before HB 2 passed sure wants to talk now.
“This is a very complex issue,” McCrory said over the weekend in Asheville. “It’s an emotional issue for people of all sides, and I think instead of having threats and boycotts and protests we need to have more discussion.”
Novel idea, Pat. Though I’m not sure now what might be accomplished. Each side seems to have gone too far to turn back.
I do know what I should have told my wife to paint on her canvas for our niece. A lighthouse. A tall, strong beacon guiding ships safely through darkness and rough waters. It’s one of our state’s most iconic symbols.
North Carolina could use a bright shining light right now.
Keith Larson can be heard weekdays 9 a.m. - Noon on WBT AM/FM.