We have been mildly critical of some of the Raleigh News & Observer’s news coverage of the Wake County schools debate. Tuesday’s Progressive Pulse featured a post in which I took the paper to task for publishing what I thought was an inadequate and inaccurate story about Monday night’s anti-re-segregation meeting at Pullen Church.
It would appear that criticism did not go over very well.
Yesterday afternoon, the reporter in question responded by putting up a truly bizarre blog post in which, for no apparent reason other than a desire to engage in name-calling and guilt by association, he featured some of my comments along with those of a group called The People’s World that, frankly, I’d never heard of, under the headline “Liberals and Communists on the Wake school diversity fight.” Wow! I guess that’ll show me.
I wonder if there will be any N&O blog posts entitled “Conservatives and the Klan speak out on school integration” or, maybe, “Conservatives and white supremacists voice opposition to increased immigration” on the occasions when their views overlap. For some reason, I’m not holding my breath.
Happily the paper’s editorial page continues to do a solid job. Today, its editors published an excellent editorial on the right-wing board majority’s musings about changing the name of one of the high schools that has been a hotbed of opposition to its plans. Here it is:
The Enloe tradition
Racial customs changed slowly in the segregated South as the civil rights movement struggled for traction, and in some places the old ways were defended with every tactic that white supremacist community leaders could muster, including violence.
Raleigh, to its credit, was not one of those places. There was no lightning bolt of reform that blasted away decades of discrimination. But practical, sensible people helped shepherd the capital city into a new era when whites and blacks could go about their business on an equal footing – equal, at least, in the eyes of the law.
Sustaining that equality as a day-to-day fact of life is a goal of those who backed the present-day Wake County school system’s socioeconomic diversity policy. Conservative school board members who took control last fall have revoked that policy, heedless of warnings that they risk the creation of schools attended largely by economically disadvantaged children, most of them African-American.
Here’s what not to do by way of mollifying the critics: Rename an urban high school where support for diversity has been strong for some well-known black figure.
Board chairman Ron Margiotta and his sidekick John Tedesco point an accusatory finger at former Raleigh Mayor William G. Enloe, for whom Enloe High School in east Raleigh is named. Enloe, mayor from 1957 to 1963, was just the sort of moderate leader who helped the city navigate those treacherous times, when the push for integrated public facilities came to shove.
The mayor declined to get out too far ahead of his white constituents as attitudes and practices evolved, but he did his part to facilitate change. The “segregationist” label Margiotta applied to him seems entirely unfair.
Under the board’s new neighborhood school policy, Enloe High – a nationally recognized magnet school – could see its poor and minority enrollment soar. That would only magnify the challenges those students face. The board should be focusing on how to prevent such an outcome, rather than cynically toying with a name change meant to camouflage the impending damage.”