Outside the Box


Opinion Roundup: On 9/11, a call for unity

Posted September 11
Updated September 12

In this Friday, Sept. 8, 2017 photo, the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, bottom, is surrounded by high-rise towers in New York. The new towers are: WTC 1, second from left, WTC 7, third from left, WTC 3, second from right, and WTC 4, right. Monday will mark the sixteenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

Monday, Sept. 11, 2017 -- A roundup of opinion, commentary and analysis on the 16th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks, the painfully slow recovery for N.C. towns from Hurricane Matthew, the case for greater innovation in high school classrooms and more.

Mystic chords of 9/11 (Winston-Salem Journal) -- Here we are at another sad anniversary of 9/11. This milestone has sometimes been politicized, with Americans pointing fingers at each other as to which major party is doing better at homeland security. But just for a moment, we’d like to transcend the finger-pointing on what should be a unifying day for our nation.

Resolved to fight back against terror (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot) -- Sixteen years ago today, Americans’ view of terrorism changed forever.

JOHN RAILEY: Remembering the 9/11 victims (Winston-Salem Journal column) -- The Journal published this column of mine on the month after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Today, I’m still thinking of the New York victims, as well as those killed at the Pentagon and in the Pennsylvania plane crash, and their survivors, both in our area and across America.​

JUSTIN PERRY: ‘Never forget’ 9-11? Then don’t tell blacks to get over terrors they remember (Charlotte Observer column) -- One thing you won’t hear as we remember Sept. 11 is “Get over it!” And yet, that is what black Americans have heard repeatedly and casually over and over in regard to our home-grown terrors: slavery, Jim Crow, public lynchings with body parts sold publicly, segregation, urban renewal, church bombings/murder, the war on black and brown drug use as white heroin use is decriminalized, mass incarceration for marijuana that is now legalized in many states, the school to prison pipeline and on, and on.

JOHN RAILEY: Reaching the children is what it’s all about (Winston-Salem Journal column) -- On the eve of another Sept. 11 anniversary, maybe it’s worth thinking about ways we can reach children so they don’t grow up to be haters who take their anger out on the world.

ERIC LIPTON, BEN PROTESS & ANDREW W. LEHREN: How Is President Trump’s Business Doing? Check the Electoral College (New York Times analysis) -- Business is booming here at the Trump National Golf Club in Mooresville, N.C. The real estate office is selling million-dollar homes, the membership roster is nearly maxed out, and the private club is booking a record number of events, including a sold-out “Bag-Lady Luncheon,” where luxury leather handbags were auctioned for a charity that supports military veterans. “How do we get busier?” asked Jennifer Minton, the club’s controller, during a recent tour of the grounds. “We only have so many weekends.”

CELIA RIVENBARK: Trump has answers. Or does he? (Wilmington Star-News column) -- My daughter and her best friend could amuse themselves, as young kids, with endless variations of a game they made up. One would say something like, “I love chocolate pudding” and then, a half-beat later, she would raise an eyebrow, and add slyly, “Or do I?” The girls found this hilarious, and it morphed into variations that included “Or will I?” “Or did I?” and “Or should I?” I thought about the “Or do I?” game while listening to an interview with our Reality Show Producer in Chief, it occurred to me that he’s a fan of the game himself. “I love the Dreamers.” Or do I? Hint: He doesn’t.

YONAT SHIMRON, ADELLE M. BANKS, EMILY McFARLAN MILLER & JEROME SOCOLOVSKY: All the president’s clergymen: A close look at Trump’s ‘unprecedented’ ties with evangelicals (Religion News Service analysis) President Donald Trump’s close ties with this group of conservative Christian religious leaders is, by all accounts, unprecedented. They come after he was elected president with 81 percent of the white evangelical vote — a higher share than cast ballots for Mitt Romney, John McCain or George W. Bush.

SCOTT ROMINE: Statue debate is symbolic of other issues (Greensboro News & Record column) -- One of the dividends paid by recent controversies over Confederate monuments is that basic historical facts have become a matter of public record.

PHILIP GERARD: Uniting a divided history (Wilmington Star-News column) -- N.C. Civil War center will help better tell a complex story that continues to shape us today.

Storm over monument won't just blow past (Elizabeth City Daily Advance) -- The controversy over the monument’s placement at the courthouse isn’t going to go away by refusing to talk about it. Commissioners need to engage the issue of why the monument is so hurtful to many through a series of public discussions.

TRAVIS FAIN: Cooper administration files to move Confederate monuments from Capitol (WRAL-TV analysis) -- Gov. Roy Cooper wants to move three Confederate statues from the State Capitol grounds to the Bentonville Battlefield historic site in Johnston County.

Duke evicts Robert E. Lee and ignores its namesake’s past (Wilson Times) -- A statue of Robert E. Lee probably won’t be the last historical monument to be unceremoniously removed from its perch at Duke University. Duke President Vincent Price named 16 people to the newly formed Commission on Memory and History Sept. 1 after Lee’s vandalized visage was hauled away from Duke Chapel. As Confederate statues continue to serve as a rallying cry for rioters, this blue-ribbon panel will choose which historical artifacts to hide from menacing eyes. The Commission on Sanitizing History — we took some artistic license to render the name more accurate — ought to tread lightly if the prestigious private college wishes to avoid doubling down on hypocrisy.

N.C. courts were once the domain of white males. No longer. (Charlotte Observer) -- The race barrier in NC Courts was broken in 1983. What progress has been made since?

Kaepernick shows how to be a better American (Charlotte Observer) -- Colin Kaepernick, like many who defend America’s principles, is an example to follow, not shun.

Three Judge Court: Why NC Congressional Partisan Gerrymandering Case Will Go Forward (Election Law Blog/Court order) -- Opinion rejecting request for stay pending resolution of the Whitford partisan gerrymandering case at SCOTUS.

Berger maps out a future for N.C. Democrats (Wilmington Star-News) -- State Sen. Phil Berger has some simple advice for Democrats who don’t like the redistricting of the state legislature: Become Republicans. Responding to complaints that the new districts aren’t competitive, Berger, the Senate’s Republican leader, said if the other party wants to win elections, “You’re going to have to bring back the traditional North Carolina Democrat.” By that, he explained, he means pro-business, pro-gun Democrats.

JOE JOHNSON: Durham, state elections boards object to N.Y. Times story about Russian hacking (Durham Herald-Sun analysis) -- The North Carolina and Durham boards of elections are pushing back against the veracity of a recent story published by The New York Times that scrutinized how the boards conducted the 2016 election.

SIVA VAIDHYANATHAN: Facebook Wins, Democracy Loses (New York Times column) -- Daniel Kreiss, a communication scholar at the University of North Carolina, proposes that sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube maintain a repository of campaign ads so that regulators, scholars, journalists and the public can examine and expose them. But the companies have no impetus to concur and coordinate. And Congress is unlikely to reform a system that campaigns are just learning to master. Facebook has no incentive to change its ways. The money is too great. The issue is too nebulous to alienate more than a few Facebook users.

Tim White: A chance to stop the madness (Fayetteville Observer) -- For a day, at least, I thought Mark Meadows was about to make a difference in a surprising way. News stories said he’s signed onto a legal brief in a U.S. Supreme Court case that challenges political gerrymandering. The case, from Wisconsin, asks the nation’s highest court to reverse its long-held stand that the drawing of electoral districts is inherently political. This has led to increasingly godawful legislative districts that take on absurd shapes and contortions.

Court ruling saves early voting in Pitt (Greenville Daily Reflector) -- The state supreme court extricated the local electoral process from the legislative mire last week when it allowed short-handed county boards of elections to set early voting locations.

SUSAN LADD: A humane approach to immigration reform, crafted by Republicans (Greensboro News & Record column) -- Republican icons such as George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan not only expressed compassion for undocumented immigrants, but reflected it in their policies.

ROB SCHOFIELD: Trump’s DACA order could harm our economy (Winston-Salem Journal column) -- President Trump’s order to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) has provoked a thunderous national response from Americans outraged at the potential human carnage that could result from pushing more than 800,000 young people back into the shadows. As veteran researcher and advocate Daniel Costa of the Economic Policy Institute wrote in a post, ending DACA lowers wages and tax revenue, degrades labor standards and bodes ill for millions of non-immigrant American workers.

TOM FOREMAN & GARY ROBERTSON: North Carolina's largest city poised for mayoral primary (AP analysis) -- An off-year election in North Carolina's largest city will help determine if a mayor who's been embroiled in controversies over protections for the LGBT community and her handling of a police shooting will get to vie for a second term

MATT APUZZO: ‘I Smell Cash’: How The A.T.F. Spent Millions Unchecked (New York Times analysis) – For seven years, agents at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives followed an unwritten policy: If you needed to buy something for one of your cases, do not bother asking Washington. Talk to agents in Bristol, Va., who controlled a multimillion-dollar account unrestricted by Congress or the bureaucracy. Thomas Lesnak, a veteran agent, operated out of a government office building tucked behind a Burger King in Bristol, a small city near the intersection of Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee. Colleagues regarded him as fast-talking and likable.

Compensation now (Winston-Salem Journal) -- In the summer of 2013, the GOP-led legislature made history by making North Carolina the first state in the country to approve compensation for victims of a forced sterilization program. Republican Gov. Pat McCrory signed its effort into law.

EMILY BADGER, QUOCTRUNG BUI & CLAIRE CAIN MILLER: Dear Amazon, We Picked Your New Headquarters for You (New York Times analysis) -- Amazon has set off a scrum among cities that are hoping to land the company’s second headquarters — with the winner getting the prize of a $5 billion investment and 50,000 new jobs over the next two decades. We’re offering to help, using Amazon’s own criteria to identify a winning city. Sorry North Carolina, the Triangle and Charlotte don’t make it to the final cut.

STEPHANIE CARSON: NC Women Take Business Funding into Their Own Hands (Public News Service analysis) -- There are more than 225,000 women-owned businesses in North Carolina, and at least that many female entrepreneurs working to navigate access to capital and resources. That fact is what is driving a new crowdsourcing effort for women-owned businesses coming to parts of North Carolina. In less than a year, iFundWomen has driven more than $1 million into female-owned businesses in other cities such as Nashville, and chief revenue officer Concetta Rand said they want to do the same in the Triangle.

BETH DE BONA: Spinning Wheel Rugs/Mountain Rug Mills shuts down operations (Hendersonville Times-News analysis) -- It’s the end of an era in textile manufacturing in Hendersonville. After eight decades downtown, a family owned mill that manufactured mostly custom wool rugs is shutting down, the victim of changing market dynamics.

Can Leland offer affordable housing? (Wilmington Star-News) -- From the mechanic working on our car, to the medical assistant checking our vital signs, we continue to be surprised by how many people we meet who earn a living in New Hanover County but call Brunswick home. The last time we checked, more than 10,000 Brunswick residents worked in New Hanover. Brunswick County’s dramatic growth over the past 20 years was fueled by retirees who could afford the nice homes of places such as Brunswick Forest and Magnolia Greens.

Solving poverty (Fayetteville Observer) -- There are few places in the country, as a 2015 Harvard study showed us, that have worse outcomes for impoverished children. If a child is born into poverty in Fayetteville, he or she will only sink deeper. The study has been extensively discussed, and at least a few of our elected leaders have embraced a plan to combat poverty and improve our children’s outcomes.

KATE ELIZABETH QUERAM: The improbable rise of the 'Elevator Queen' (Greensboro News & Record Q&A) -- If you've ever been in an elevator in North Carolina, you know Cherie Berry's name and face. Here's the story of how a bureaucrat became a folk hero to state residents. Starting from the ground floor.

Edgecombe legislator named ‘living legend’ (Rocky Mount Telegram profile) -- A local lawmaker is being called a legend in his own time. N.C. Rep. Shelly Willingham, D-Edgecombe, has been recognized for community service as a Living Legend of Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Willingham is an alumnus of Elizabeth City State University.

JESS BIDGOOD: N.C., Still Reeling From Hurricane Matthew, Stares at Irma (New York Times analysis) -- The flooding is long gone, but its shadow is everywhere in Fair Bluff. It is etched in the waterline on the windows of empty storefronts, in the mold blooming on the walls of a neglected building, in the rippled sign hanging in a window: “We will be closed Saturday Oct. 8 due to the storm.” The flooding last October from Hurricane Matthew killed 31 people in North Carolina, displaced thousands and poured water in threadbare towns dotting the flat green landscape of Eastern North Carolina. And now, in towns that have barely begun to recover from Matthew’s punishing rains, residents are nervously eyeing the possibility of a new threat: Hurricane Irma.

LIZ BELL: Edgecombe, anticipating storm, reflects inward (EdNC column) -- As Edgecombe County’s school system faces another hurricane season, its leaders are looking for ways to better understand the students and families they serve.

Hurricanes come, relief bills follow (Greensboro News & Record) -- North Carolina didn’t escape the worst of Hurricane Matthew last year; it swamped much of the coastal plain. Many communities still haven’t recovered. And there are always more storms coming. Government policies aren’t clear in how to respond to them.

AMANDA THAMES: Hurricane Irma causes uptick in alcohol sales (Jacksonville Daily News) -- Whether wanting to ignore Irma and party with friends or figuring being drunk is the best way to weather the storm – both reasons given at a local ABC store – people were pushing carts of vodka to the cash register on Tuesday and Wednesday. But Store Manager Chelle Pittman said a shift in Irma’s track may have changed Onslow’s plans since there were only few and far between customers on Friday. “We do normally see an uptick, just like grocery stores do,” said Neta Grady, the general manager of the Onslow County ABC Board.

Why do we tolerate Cape Fear pollution? (Fayetteville Observer) -- Bad news about the Cape Fear River is coming in buckets and barrels this year, all of them filled with anything but clean, clear water. There is, of course, all the bad news about GenX, the chemical used by DuPont spinoff Chemours in its Fayetteville Works, where it manufactures plastic films like Teflon. The stuff was developed to substitute for another Teflon ingredient, called C8, a few years ago.

BENJAMIN SCHACHTMAN: Bladen County considering suing N.C. to stop action against Chemours (Port City Daily analysis) -- Bladen County is considering taking legal action against North Carolina in hopes of stoping the state from shutting down Chemours, the company connected to the chemical GenX and that employs nearly 1,000 people in the area.

GAEL HAWKINS: Benches at Preserve Memorialize Islanders (Coastal Review column) -- Benches along the Jim Stephenson Nature Trail at Springer’s Point Preserve on Ocracoke Island offer more than places to stop and rest, they are posthumous tributes to notable folks who made their home here.

MOLLY OSBORNE: Reimagining a 21st century high school (EdNC column) -- Our high school system was designed during the Industrial Revolution. Although society has changed greatly since then, compared to elementary and middle school classrooms, high school classrooms are the least innovative. In many high schools today, students sit in desks in a classroom taking notes while a teacher lectures.

ADAM RHEW: Professional development paradox (EdNC column) -- In many ways, professional development is a quandary for educators: They complain there are not enough opportunities to enrich their knowledge—but when they attend a workshop, it does not feel worthwhile. To the contrary, high-quality professional development is one of the most promising avenues for teachers to grow their practice. A study released in May by the Learning Policy Institute suggests it is an essential component of teacher—and, it follows—student success.

KEITH POSTON: Profiteering off North Carolina public schools (Fayetteville Observer) -- As NC students walked into elementary classrooms on their first day of school brimming with anticipation at the start of a new year, here’s what some found: many classrooms for art, music and special education are gone.

TIA BETHEA: 'Back to School Tech Party' - a bridge over the digital divide (WRAL-TV/TechWire column) -- At Google Fiber, we've long been committed to helping to bridge the digital divide -- the unmistakable line that exists between people with ready access to the internet and the latest tech tools and those without. So on August 23, Google Fiber teamed with the Durham Housing Authority to host a Back to School Tech Party; inviting all fifth through eighth grade youth living in DHA communities.

ROSE HOBAN: Fighting Antibiotic Resistance, One Prescription at a Time (N.C. Health News analysis) -- Antibiotic resistance is on the rise, so national experts were pleased to see the number of people taking the drugs decrease. But is it enough?​

An innocent man serving 24 years in prison who bears no grudges (Washington Post book review) -- Here in North Carolina, we’re still shaking off the effects of the “bathroom bill.” For the year or so in which that spiteful and ludicrous law was on the books, the state was — to quote Roy Cooper, who rode the backlash to victory in the 2016 gubernatorial race — a “national laughingstock.” How bracing, then, to be reminded by Benjamin Rachlin in his first book, “Ghost of the Innocent Man,” that when it comes to doing right by the wrongly convicted, North Carolina leads the way.

BILL HAND: Coming soon - Click-Journalism! (New Bern Sun Journal) -- Like journalists everywhere we at the Sun Journal have been concerned about the slow melting away of our audience. There’s nothing like the feel of a newspaper in your hand and the succinctness of good local news. But the generations are passing, and younger readers are turning away more and more from traditional newspapers.​​​​


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