Wednesday, 08 July 2020 12:06

COLUMN: Law and disorder

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Republicans are beside themselves with anger over the illegal toppling of Confederate monuments and the failure of Democrats like Gov. Roy Cooper stopping them. They railed against the lawlessness of the mobs invading cities. Donald Trump tweeted “LAW AND ORDER!” to signify his disdain for the protesters. Now, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is introducing a bill that would withhold federal funds from states that don’t defend monuments, including those to the Confederacy. 

We heard over and over again that Democrats allowed vandals to break the law. People who wanted the monuments down should have followed the legal process, even if the GOP keeps moving the goal posts. When public opinion started to shift toward removing statues about five years ago, Republicans in the legislature passed a bill to create bureaucratic obstacles to protect them. Now, when that law gets violated, they scream about the rule of law. 

On the other hand, as COVID-19 continues to spread and the number of cases spikes across the country, conservative activists are openly defying mandates to wear masks. Republican legislators decry the order to wear them as a violation of their rights. Several Republican sheriffs have said they will not enforce Roy Cooper’s decree. Republicans who are outraged at protesters pulling down monuments because they violate the rule of law have little respect for the laws they don’t like. 

The protesters who pulled down statues at the Capitol grounds in Raleigh did so after years of attempts to get them removed. Republicans in the legislature protected the monuments to people who took up arms against the United States in defense of slavery, continuing a legacy of distorting our history and insulting African Americans. The protesters didn’t vandalize the Capitol building or other monuments. They had a narrow and specific target. Tearing down those statues didn’t hurt anything but feelings, even if they violated the law. That’s civil disobedience.

The people who refuse to wear masks, though, put our friends and neighbors at risk. Those who insist on large gatherings with little social distancing and fewer masks are doing their part to keep the economy closed. Conservatives pundits want to us rely on personal responsibility but the Republican base shows us over and over again that they have none. Instead, they’ve bought into Trump and Fox News conspiracy theories about the virus. If we weren’t testing, the virus would be gone. It’s not as contagious as people claim. It only kills old people. Such drivel. 

COVID-19 is spreading rapidly across the country and beginning to overwhelm ICUs in hospitals in other states. If conservatives really want to open up society and get businesses back in order, they would spend far more time debunking Trump’s conspiracy theories and disinformation campaigns than attacking the governor’s mandate. A quick scan of Carolina Journal and Civitas writings finds a plethora of articles criticizing the heavy-handedness of the governor and lawlessness of protesters but nothing criticizing those people who refuse to wear masks or the presidents’ rantings. Right now, they should use their platform to educate the ill-informed conservative base that COVID-19 is for real and that what the president and other Republican leaders are saying is not.

Thomas Mills is the founder and publisher of Before beginning PoliticsNC, Mills spent 20 years as a political and public affairs consultant.