Opinion: Columnists

Feb. 25, 2014 @ 02:44 PM

Planting native, saving our diversity

First question for you, says UNC-TV's “Exploring North Carolina” host, Tom Earnhardt, when he begins his talk to a Rotary club or other civic group, is, how many of you have spare parts somewhere in your body?


Feb. 24, 2014 @ 12:18 PM

More silliness from Kansas

"Discrimination," he said, "is horrible. It's hurtful. It has no place in civilized society..."
You would think that statement, delivered recently in the Kansas legislature, a noble sentiment no right-thinking person could argue with. But we are gathered here today to argue with it.
Because it turns out that when Republican legislator Charles Macheers said "discrimination," he didn't mean, well ... discrimination. Macheers sponsored a bill -- passed overwhelmingly by the Kansas House but killed last week by the Senate in an attack of common sense -- that sought to exempt any business or government employee from providing "any services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods or privileges" related to any "marriage, domestic partnership, civil union or similar arrangement" if doing so would conflict with the employee's "sincerely held religious beliefs."


Feb. 23, 2014 @ 02:19 PM

Celebrating 125 years with section, museum exhibit

Happy birthday to us!

As many of you know, I’ve been irrepressibly exuberant over this newspaper’s coming 125th birthday. Wednesday is that day – the very first, four-page issue of the Durham Sun hit the muddy streets of Durham Feb, 26, 1889.


Feb. 22, 2014 @ 08:05 PM

The Cold War's final episode?

One hundred years ago this coming Aug. 4, the day Britain declared war on Germany, socialists in the German Reichstag voted for credits to finance the war. Marxists -- including Lenin, who that day was in what now is Poland -- were scandalized. Marx had preached that the proletariat has no fatherland, only a transnational class loyalty to proletarians everywhere. "In 1918," wrote Louis Fischer, Lenin's best biographer, "patriotism and nationalism, born of the 'subjectivism' Lenin so disliked, were ideological crimes in Soviet Russia."


Feb. 21, 2014 @ 09:30 AM

White fear trumps black life

"You can get killed just for living in your American skin." -- Bruce Springsteen


On Aug. 7, 1930, two young black men were lynched in Marion, Ind.
A photographer named Lawrence Beitler had a studio across the street from the lynching tree. He came out and snapped what became an iconic photo, which he made into a postcard and sold. It shows Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith hanging dead and their executioners, faces clearly visible, milling about as if at a picnic. Though authorities possessed this damning photographic evidence, they never arrested anyone for the crime. It was officially attributed to "persons unknown."


Feb. 21, 2014 @ 02:21 AM

Institute tracks human progress

Generally speaking, things are better than they seem -- and getting better all the time. I say this not only as a naturally optimistic person but also as one who prefers hard facts to easy sentimentality.


Feb. 20, 2014 @ 02:48 PM

Why is state's unemployment still so high?

There’s good news and bad news about the North Carolina job market. The good news is that more jobs have been created in recent years. Since the job market began to turn around in early 2010, both monthly surveys of the labor market in the state show job and employment gains totaling near 250,000.


Feb. 19, 2014 @ 01:00 AM

Breaking unions' grip in Tennessee vote

This year's most important election will not occur in November, when more than 90 million votes will be cast for governors and national legislators. The most important election, crucial to an entire region's economic well-being and to the balance of the nation's political competition, has already occurred.


Feb. 17, 2014 @ 10:31 PM

Documenting Down East’s disappearing way of life

“Down East” in North Carolina does not mean what you think it means.


Feb. 17, 2014 @ 12:17 PM

Sometimes, making a mistake is just being human

I used to get blamed all the time for stuff Bob Steinback said.

To be fair, it wasn't always blame -- sometimes it was credit -- and it went both ways. Sometimes, he had to explain to people that it was not he who had written a certain thing, but me.


Feb. 15, 2014 @ 11:29 PM

Why immigration reform matters

Distilled to their discouraging essence, Republicans’ reasons for retreating from immigration reform reflect waning confidence in American culture and in the political mission only Republicans can perform — restoring America’s economic vigor. Without this, the nation will have a dismal future only Democrats can relish: government growing in order to allocate scarce opportunity.


Feb. 15, 2014 @ 11:16 PM

Cynical cultures and political self-destruction

The other day, an anchor on CNN asked a guest about the allegations New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie may have known more than he is admitting about the traffic tie-ups in Fort Lee, N.J., last September.


Feb. 14, 2014 @ 11:22 AM

Pitts: A few more thoughts on 'thug'

"I hate that thug music."

This, according to Rhonda Rouer's testimony last week, is what her fiance, Michael Dunn, said when they pulled into a Jacksonville, Fla., gas station next to an SUV full of black kids who had the stereo up high, pumping some obnoxious, bass-heavy rap.
Rouer was inside the convenience store when she heard the shots. Dunn, who is white, had gotten into an argument with the young men about their music, had gone into his glove box for his pistol and started shooting. As the SUV tried to get away, he fired still more rounds. At least one of those rounds fatally struck 17-year-old Jordan Davis.


Feb. 13, 2014 @ 12:53 PM

When reality isn’t magical for youth

Jon, one of my former law students, recently told me with sadness in his voice, “I can’t believe he is only 11 years old.” Jon was referring to Zebulon Middle School student Michael Morones, who tried to hang himself on Jan. 23. 


Feb. 11, 2014 @ 07:54 AM

Truth in fiction—How bad did the recession hurt?

The good news for all of us in North Carolina is that the unemployment rate is declining and the increase in economic activity is opening up new jobs to replace some of those we lost during the recession.