Politcal activist and former U.S. Senate candidate Jim Neal spoke out this morning on his blog, Neal’s Way about his reasons for committing civil disobedience in the North Carolina House of Representatives this week. We’ve cross-posted his statement below:
“On civil disobedience in perilous times
In North Carolina we are witnessing an attempt by state legislators in the majority- abetted by a few in the minority- to effectively repeal the 20th century. Aside from targeting and seeking to intimidate the LGBT community with the threat of denying equal rights under the State constitution (amendments to constitutions usually expand- not restrict- individual rights)– here as across America there is a frontal assault on our education system, mental and public health systems, our environment, womens’ access to reproductive healthcare and the social compact that once supported a strong middle class. Most cynically, these repressive attacks to undermine equal rights are waged on the backs of the poor, the intimidated and the disenfranchised. What’s playing out before my eyes is the classic “it’s them” divide and conquer ploy, a tactic that has always failed in this nation’s ongoing march towards full equality. “Equal rights” aren’t some nebulous province of this class or the other; rather, equal rights are your rights, they are my rights and they are the rights of all mankind.
I am but one individual, an individual who once campaigned for elective office as a proxy for those having no voice- as politicians all so often do. My campaign didn’t end in 2008 anymore than did our nation’s progress end on the battlefront at Yorktown, the steps of Appomattox Courthouse or the streets of Selma. For until the day when no man, no woman and no child is embraced in the bosom of liberty and justice, there will be equal rights for none.
I am no longer willing to passively bear witness to the ghettoization of LGBT people, the poor, the middle class and the weak. No body and no individual has the rightful dominion to diminish the unalienable rights to to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in our United States of America. And- I do not stand alone.
My defiance of the law today is neither some personal manifesto, act of self-aggrandizement, stunt nor press release. What I and other did today was hardly courageous or unprecedented. I will say that my personal expression of civil disobedience today was perhaps the most noble gesture I have made in my lifetime.
As some of you know, two of my heroes are Alexander the Great (hence, the name of my business Agema) and Sir Winston Churchill (hence, the name of my youngest son Winston.) Both men captured my fancy for their courage and leadership and defiance of the status quo. Alexander, a king of all kings, always led his troops into battle from the front line (protected by his elite regiment, the agema) thereby putting his life at most risk. And Sir Winston, amongst his many quips, said:
You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something sometime in your life.”