Editorial: Glad to see people taking a stand

May. 12, 2013 @ 08:09 PM

If it’s Monday, chances are, the Rev. William Barber and others standing with the state NAACP are heading back to the capital in Raleigh to risk arrest.

For the past few weeks, Barber – the chapter president – and his supporters have rallied against Republican legislative efforts to limit social programs and restrict voting. Preaching Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s philosophy of non-violent, civil disobedience, nearly 50 protesters have been arrested at the General Assembly so far.

An Associated Press article cites some political experts who question how effective – or ineffective – these rallies may be.

“North Carolina is a center-right state,” said Michael Bitzer, a professor of political science at Catawba College in Salisbury. “It’s not a liberal bastion, so on both sides they have to be careful of going too far to one side or the other because that’s just not where the middle of North Carolina is.”

David McLennan, a political science professor at William Peace University, thinks it might be more of a fundraising strategy for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

“It’s good political drama,” McLennan said. “Not necessarily in the short term, but in the long run it raises money and keeps their supporters fired up through 2014 or 2016.”

Linda Callahan, a communication professor at North Carolina A&T University, said that as noble as civil disobedience might be, it loses some of its oomph when there’s nothing directly to connect to an arrest.

Back in the 1960s, people got arrested for defying unjust laws – sitting at store counters, drinking from water fountains, using bathrooms.

In these modern-day efforts, the protesters are arrested for misdemeanor trespassing, and Republicans simply dismiss their civil disobedience as irrational temper tantrums.

“It is so vitriolic that it’s discounted by most people,” said Rep. Paul Stam, R-Wake, in the AP article.

But Barber argues that critics shouldn’t be so quick to doubt what the NAACP is striving to accomplish. He points to the Democratic board seated in Wake County in the aftermath of the fight over a Republican-endorsed school assignment policy, which the NAACP battled against.

“All of that together produced a win when people thought it was entrenched,” Barber said. “And what did the other side do? They dismissed us, and because of that they lost.”

Frankly, we’re glad to see groups like the NAACP with their “Moral Mondays,” as well as college students from throughout the Triangle, taking organized stands against the injustices that the General Assembly seems bent on perpetrating.

Stam and his cohorts would like nothing more than for their opponents to agree that it’s just sour grapes and that trying to speak out on these important issues is futile as long as Republicans hold power in Raleigh.

And, truth be told, Stam may be banking on a lack of stamina for a long-term protest effort.

We sure hope he’s disappointed.