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04
The Reverend William Barber got up to pray at a memorial service for three Muslim students killed in Chapel Hill and, right in the middle of his prayer, pointed his finger straight at Reverend Franklin Graham and said Graham lit the fuse to the powder keg that led to the murders.
 
Barber’s thinking went like this: He said Graham spoke out against Muslim students’ right to pray in Duke Chapel which poisoned the “Atmosphere” which triggered hatred of Muslims which drove an atheist from Chapel Hill to murder.
 
Meantime, in Washington, the Obama Administration’s explaining a theory of its own, saying young men join ISIS and become terrorists because of broken Political Systems – in places like Syria – that breed corruption and poverty .
 
So we have two new explanations for murder: The Atmosphere. And the System.
 
And the problem is obvious: A lot of poor politically disenfranchised young men never chop off a anyone’s head.
 
So why are they different?
 
Could it be Reverend Barber and President Obama have missed a darker power (that’s more capable of murder than the Atmosphere or a Broken System) that’s whispering to the young men who become terrorists?


 

 

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03

 

The local school board has a new training program to teach teachers that all cultures are equal and to move away from the ‘belief any culture is superior to another’ – which sounds fine except the concept of cultural equality rests on a kind of moral relativism that leads to odd places.
 
Take ISIS. It’s culture is based on what it calls ‘Prophetic Methodology’ which views selling an infidel woman as a slave as a virtue.
 
Awhile back, when ISIS burned a Jordanian pilot, President Obama explained, Well, Christians have done some terrible things in the name of religion too – which is a diplomatic way to say: They’re bad. We’re bad. We’re all bad alike. Wickedness, too, is relative.  
 
But, despite our past sins, we do believe burning a pilot or selling a woman as a slave is wrong  – while ISIS sees both as right.
 
So are all cultures equal? Or do some practice more wickedness than others?


 

 

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25
The fur’s flying over in Chapel Hill – Dean Boger (at the Law School) along with a cohort of professors have lit into the Board of Governors saying closing the Law School’s Anti-Poverty Center leaves them with only one conclusion: The Board is for poverty.
 
The Dean lamented the Board was guilty of every sin from betraying Dean Smith’s ‘Carolina Way’ to leading the University off the road to “light and truth” into the darkness – then blasted the Board for playing politics, saying it was shuttering the Center to silence law school professor Gene Nichols, who’s been blaming Republicans for poverty.
 
Listening you’d think the Anti-Poverty Center was founded by Mother Theresa – instead of John Edwards.
 
In fact the Center was never a step down the road to “light and truth” – it was a political farce Edwards created (and the Law School embraced) to serve as the launching pad for Edwards’s 2008 Presidential campaign. Dean Boger, the Law School’s Wade Edwards Distinguished Professor – a chair established by John Edwards to honor his late son – has long given it his blessing. And now he’s accusing the Board of playing politics.


 

 

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19
I was barely eighteen when, my first night in Chapel Hill, they herded all the male freshmen into an auditorium and an aging Dean stepped up to a podium, perched his half-glasses on the end of his nose, and explained genteelly from here on – for the next four years – we were expected to behave as ‘Carolina Gentleman.’
 
What he meant wasn’t exactly clear but, a week later, at my first football game, I learned one concrete fact: A number of students could get dead drunk and pass out in the parking lot at Kenan Stadium without tarnishing their reputations as Carolina Gentlemen.  
 
Fast forward four decades and scandals about phony classes for athletes which errant administrators compounded with cover-ups had depleted the ranks of Carolina Gentleman to a glimmer – when the smoke cleared Carolina had a new chancellor, a towering stack of legal bills, and a million dollar P.R. firm trying to rescue its image.
 
Then, just when it seemed the ship might right itself, lighting struck out of a clear blue sky and a second scandal landed in the newspaper: Medicare claimed UNC Hospital had chiseled it out of $2.5 million.  
 
This time there wasn’t a Carolina Gentleman anywhere in sight.


 

 

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18
When the State Ethics Commission ruled that a lobbyist having sex with a legislator didn’t violate the ban on gifts to legislators because sex acts do not constitute “things of value,” it got the attention of the redoubtable Ira David Wood, who’s surely NC’s most respected artist.
 
Woods posted the entire newspaper article on Facebook then wrote beside it: Happy Valentine’s Day, NC! (Just take me now, Lord.)
 
Beneath his comment one of his friends added: This ruling is perfectly consistent as there are obviously no ethics rules prohibiting a politician from screwing his constituents.
 
Who says art has no practical purpose?


 

 

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13
After the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, Franklin Roosevelt looked the American people in the eye and said, December 7th is a day that will live in infamy forever.
 
After ISIS burned a hostage alive, President Obama told the American people, We’ve done some pretty bad things ourselves.
 
Which is the proper response to a moral outrage?
 
We need Horatius at the Bridge in the White House but have Hamlet giving a soliloquy on moral relativism: They’ve sinned. We’ve sinned. They’ve done terrible things in the name of Allah. We’ve done terrible things in Christ’s name. We are all alike.
 
It’s the devil’s own argument breeding moral ambivalence and we wouldn’t be the first poor fools blinded by it.
 
Lord knows, we’ve committed sins. But we’ve also deposed Kings, vanquished tyrants, whipped Hitler – and never asked for a thing in return.  
 
The day before the President’s soliloquy the United Nations reported ISIS has been “crucifying Iraqi children and burying them alive.” 
 
It’s time for Hamlet to move past ambivalence and stop asking, Are we any better than ISIS?

 

 

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12
Reverend William Barber went down to the newspaper and sat down with Ned Barnett to have a chat about the state’s soul.
 
Now the main problem with the state spiritually, according to Reverend Barber, is Republicans. He’s thundered from podiums from Asheville to Wilmington that Republicans are heartless varmints who stomp on women, children, and the blind, halt and lame.
 
You could search for years and not find a more remorseless demagogue – or partisan Democrat – than William Barber.
 
But that’s not how Ned Barnett saw it at all: The Reverend, he explained in his editorial, built his ‘Moral Mondays’ movement on morality, not politics. That as Barber himself says, Moral Mondays isn’t about left and right, it’s about right and wrong.
 
Pure baloney.


 

 

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11
Once when Democratic County Commissioner Betty Lou Ward was in the hospital she asked the Republican Commissioners to allow her to participate in a board meeting by phone – but the Republicans said no.
 
Another time, in the middle of a fight, the Republicans waited until Ward left the board room to go to the restroom then promptly held a vote.
 
All that orneriness didn’t sit well with a lot of folks and, last fall, every one of the Republicans were voted out of office and we ended up with seven Democratic County Commissioners.
 
Now Wake County is blessed: We have a solid economy and a growing population and both are bringing more money into the county’s exchequer each year but, as soon as they got sworn in, the new Democratic Commissioners proved there are more vices than orneriness: They announced it was time to raise taxes.
 
Those old Republican Commissioners were no saints but the new Democrats are making them look better every day.


 

 

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06
Robed in black from head to toe, a hood covering his face, with a hostage kneeling at his feet, he lifted a knife and started his litany.  
 
Know, oh Obama, he said, that we will cut off your head in the White House.
 
He wasn’t done.
 
This is my message to France and Belgium… we will come to you with car bombs and explosive charges, and will cut off your heads.
 
He also had a message for the leader of the Kurds.
 
As for you, oh Masoud, you dog, we are going to behead you and throw you into the trash bin of history.
 
And, finally, he said a Japanese journalist he held hostage had less than “24 hours to live” – unless a ransom was paid.
 
It was like watching Genghis Khan on the Internet.
 
And it was like going back to 1939 – we looked across the water and saw plain as day a devil but told ourselves he wasn’t our problem – that we didn’t have to fight, that it was the British and French he was after so it was up to them to defeat him and send him back to the desert places.  
 
But it wasn’t to be.
 
It was us he was after.  


 

 

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03
Bush’s steady and Hilary’s experienced and it all looks familiar but deep within the earth hidden rivers are flowing that may turn the Presidential race upside down.
 
No one had seen a caliph or caliphate for a millennium. Then, suddenly, in Yemen, Nigeria, North Africa, Syria and Iraq we have caliphates – and women sold as slaves, towns razed and hostages beheaded (or burned).
 
We have terrorist attacks from Australia to Paris and, in Saudi Arabia, an ‘enlightened’ country, the government has ordered a man publicly flogged, given 1000 lashes in front of a mosque for blasphemy.
                                                                                   
A year more of this and we may not be looking for a President whose steady or reliable – we may be looking for a warrior to whip the Huns. And someone who looks hard-edged, abrasive and unbending today, like Ted Cruz, may fit the bill.


 

 

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