In his June 4 column, Sen. Thom Goolsby referred to the current Moral Monday protests in Raleigh as “Moron Monday,” and referred to the protesters as “old hippies.”
People in positions of political power criticizing and insulting protesters is certainly nothing new. For example, at least thirty-seven protestors of Virginia Governor William Berkeley’s exclusion of “plain folks’” representation in the legislature were executed following a protest history titled (Nathan) Bacon’s Rebellion. Berkeley later boasted that free printing presses were not allowed when he was governor. Were it not for the brilliant defense provided by Alexander Hamilton, Peter Zenger would have been convicted of criminal libel, for protesting the unjust political actions of New York’s royal governor in the New York Weekly Journal.
Editor William Lloyd Garrison was physically as well as verbally attacked, and editor Elijah P. Lovejoy was murdered for protesting American slavery, and this happen in the North! Criticized at the time, Benjamin Lundy, Lucretia Mott, Theodore Parker, John Greenleaf Whittier, James Russell Lowell, Wendell Phillips, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Theodore Weld, and Harriet Beecher Stowe are all heralded today for protesting human slavery. Henry David Thoreau penned “Civil Disobedience,” which became Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s plan of peaceful, passive resistance to unjust law, after he realized its effective use by Mahatma Gandhi in freeing India from British imperialistic oppression.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton protested limited rights for women; Ernestine Rose protested limited human rights; and Dorothea Dix protested the appalling conditions of prison confinement. Are these three criticized and insulted today? Medgar Evers was assassinated by Byron de Labeckwith for protesting minority voter restriction in Mississippi, but other protestors kept his efforts alive. Joseph McNeil, Franklin McCain, David Richmond and Ezell Blair, Jr. protested racial discrimination at a lunch counter in Greensboro. The lunch counter is now in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., and an honorary statue of those four now stands in Greensboro.
Laurinburg’s Terry Sanford was severely criticized as governor for attempting to extend educational opportunity, and opposing racial discrimination; how many of his critics are buried in prestigious locations such as the crypt at Duke University Chapel?
Sen. Goolsby is probably right about today’s Raleigh protestors being “old hippies.” After all, was it responsible political leaders, or “young hippies” who protested the sacrifice of America’s troops on the altar of war profiteering in Vietnam? I know quite a few who protested the same in Iraq more recently! Today, they are protesting issues such as tax breaks for the wealthy at N.C. worker’s expense, the revival of predatory lending that so exploits the state’s working poor, an obvious yet denied return to voter restrictions for minorities, and the transfer of funds from public schools to private schools for the privileged.
Obviously, critics either deny or simply cannot see the great good “old hippie morons” are attempting to accomplish in Raleigh through the tried and proven method of civil disobedience, and many who can see will continue to criticize for political purposes. But considering the age-old pattern, history will be kind to today’s protestors, in spite of the criticism and insults they are now enduring, now won’t it?
Think about it, please.
Robert C. Currie Jr.