North Carolina could see the same violence as Charlottesville


How a combination of legislative overreach and an enabled white nationalist movement could spell disaster for North Carolina

This past weekend’s violence in Charlottesville, VA prompted outrage across the political spectrum after three were killed and dozens injured at a white nationalist rally and counter-protest. The rally, held at a park home to a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee and on the grounds of the University of Virginia, turned deadly when a terrorist drove his car into a crowd protesting the white nationalists. Both of North Carolina’s senators condemned the violence.

North Carolina, however, is considerably vulnerable to the same kind of attacks witnessed in its neighboring state due to recent legislation.

Confederate monuments across the state gained blanket protection from a 2015 law signed into place by then Governor Pat McCrory. The”Historic Artifact Management and Patriotism Act,” which states that historic monuments cannot be removed without the express permission of the state’s historical commission, came after heightened protests that year calling for the removal of “Silent Sam,” a statue of a Confederate soldier on the campus of UNC Chapel Hill. Continue reading “North Carolina could see the same violence as Charlottesville”

Our Country’s Grand Canyon

mountains majesty


I am weirdly patriotic. As cynical as I often feel about our country–about its sanctity of capitalism, its perverse bureaucracies–I have a ready-made soft spot for the pageantry of this land.

In the years following September 11th, I teared up singing the third verse of “America”: Thine alabaster cities gleam, undimmed by human tears….

When I traveled to Washington for work, I was drawn to the avenues crowded with granite-faced monuments, testaments of our people’s hard-fought efforts.

I choke up anytime a military officer tenderly hands a spouse the flag that moments ago draped a casket. It doesn’t matter whose.

There is something comforting about our systems, the simple drawings of our order: the conformity of interstate highway markings, the plain hues of printed money. Even the modern aesthetic of National Park signs moves me, the efforts to carefully note the blessed continental cathedrals wrought by time and, depending on your point of view, the Creator. Continue reading “Our Country’s Grand Canyon”

In Memoriam: Kathryn Stripling Byer

Kathryn Stripling Byer


A poet who sang, who shared, but above all, who inspired.


I have a clear memory from the end of a British Lit course in college: we were packing up our things, and the professor called me to the podium to hand back a poem I’d given him the week before. “It’s good,” he said. “And the poet of the house likes it, too.”

The professor was easily among my favorites, and as anyone knows by now a young writer handing his verse to an inspiring teacher needs only “good” to make his day. But the second part–the part about the poet of the house–meant even more.

That poet, Kathryn Stripling Byer, would later become the first female Poet Laureate of North Carolina and a member of our state’s Literary Hall of Fame. She passed away today after a brief illness. Continue reading “In Memoriam: Kathryn Stripling Byer”