Commentary

PW contributor flays op-ed claiming that progressives are responsible for Trump and HB2

If one were looking for the strangest op-ed to grace the editorial page of a major North Carolina news daily in recent weeks, it would be hard to top the entry of Michael Jacobs, who teaches at the UNC business school. According to Jacobs, it’s progressive do-gooders in Chapel Hill and their ilk who are actually responsible for HB2 and the rise of Donald Trump. Jacobs is, by all indications, serious about this. He says he and his family are moving to Wilmington to get away from Chapel Hill’s oppressive liberalism.

Happily, Jacobs’ strange little screed inspired longtime NC Policy Watch contributor Andrea Verykoukis to compose one of her priceless take downs. We’re delighted to present it here.

Way harsh, Mi!
By Andrea Verykoukis

That’s a Clueless allusion for those of you who are wondering. Which makes it an Austen reference, a truth universally acknowledged to be a good thing. It’s in response, however, to the not good thing that is Michael Jacobs’s bitter farewell to Chapel Hill in Tuesday’s News & Observer. He actually blames this little town for the rise of both Donald Trump, Presidential Candidate, and Hate Bill 2. As if!

How, you may ask, did a tiny slice of heaven single-handedly generate a regrettable national candidate and a state bill that actively overrides the town’s own ordinances? Just by being its sweet self apparently.

“Chapel Hill prides itself on being a safe place for all of the 71 gender identities on Facebook. But its inclusiveness evaporates when it comes to political identities. Not only can no one remember the last time a Republican was elected to local office, those few residents who do vote for Republicans are afraid to put up a yard sign for fear of being ostracized by their neighbors. The support throughout North Carolina for Donald Trump and HB2 reflects a backlash against the intolerance of the political left. Christians, moderates and conservatives are tired of being branded as ignorant, knuckle-dragging bigots.”

Sorry, Mike, but your little joke about Facebook gender identities gives you away. You forgot “cake boy.” The truth is that because users can fill in the blank, there’s no limit to the number of gender options on FB, just like God intended. Any of the number of diverse and inclusive Christian churches in this small town could tell you that.

How does a business professor defend, even implicitly, HB2? It has been an economic disaster for the state, one that is entirely at odds with the “conscious capitalism” Jacobs extols. The jab at gender identity shows why: He’s a line-dancing, Ayn Rand-reading, Nugent ticket-holding friend of Phil and Tim.

Obviously, change and difference are threatening to this poor guy. Too bad Wilmington won’t be safe either – it’s like a Monet. Coastal cities are all about change. (Climate change, for instance.) Not to mention, that it’s another pocket of progressivism in this fine state. I don’t know anyone who’s afraid to put up a yard sign here anyway, there are plenty of GOPers in the Oaks and even some in Carrboro. That’s the first place I ever saw Carson and Cruz bumper stickers (Ha!).

The idea that Chapel Hill somehow begot a backlash big enough to engulf a 160-year-old national political party or generated enough vitriol to account for HB2 (oh, hey, Charlotte, didn’t see you there) is ridiculous. As is the idea that “North Carolina Republicans readily admit their party has done a lousy job of messaging.” Like that explains the contents of HB2. Searching for the roots of HB2’s obvious evils and arriving at “messaging” is as useless as, I don’t know, searching for meaning in a Pauly Shore movie?

As much as Jacobs hates it, Chapel Hill is just not that influential.

Fare thee well, Michael Jacobs. We will try to carry on without you. Remember you, like everyone of all stripes, are always welcome here. Anytime you want to hang with all the varieties of humans we manage to pack into our little zoo, we could certainly party with the conscious capitalists. And in conclusion may I please remind you it does not say R.S.V.P. on the Old Well. Thank you very much.

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