Editorial: Not in a month of Sundays can we compare

Aug. 30, 2013 @ 01:12 AM

Liberals sometimes seem to suffer from protest envy.

They grow up learning of the vastly unequal society that existed at the time of the great civil rights protests of the 1960s, seeing clips of news coverage of the anti-war protests of the Vietnam War years, hearing boomers’ onanistic, fanciful recitations of the wonderful things that their generation accomplished while stoned and naked and also organizing impromptu outdoor music festivals. Who wouldn’t be envious?

They look around today, and the barriers and battles all seem smaller, the villains less sinister.

Yet the rhetoric they choose to employ is lifted virtually without change from the 1960s.

This past week, with the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, brought a number of extreme examples. For instance, Rob Schofield of NC Policy Watch mused about what it would be like if Martin Luther King Jr. were still alive today: “And if this were somehow magically the case, it is virtually impossible to imagine that he wouldn’t be doing everything within his power to fight the events taking place today in North Carolina.”

It is? We find it fairly easy to imagine he might instead be trying to end wars, solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, promote human rights in North Korea or any number of other things involving severe human suffering.

In another example, the Rev. William Barber of the North Carolina NAACP recently called North Carolina “the Selma of today.” Schofield wrote of that comparison: “He was right.”

What? Selma? Have these people lost their minds? North Carolina HAS a Selma, so perhaps that’s confusing them, but it’s difficult in any objective sense to find any other parallel.

In early 1965, Selma, Ala., became the focus of civil rights efforts because of stifling voter suppression and discrimination and notorious police brutality. Civil rights events there culminated in March 1965 with what became known as Bloody Sunday, in which state troopers and local police wielding clubs and tear gas attacked peaceful marchers as whites cheered the attackers on.

You can find plenty of video footage online. Go look it up. How in good conscience can you compare anything in North Carolina today to that?

It requires either a bankruptcy of imagination or an abundance of it.