I know a guy …

With the new travel ban in effect, the U.S. has moved a step closer to the elitist mentality that Donald Trump admires. As of last Thursday night, if you come from one of six Muslim-majority countries — Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — your ability to visit the Land of the Free depends on whom you know.

Travel Ban 2.0, the nepotism version, requires that visitors and refugees alike must have “a close family member” vouch for them. Really close. Forget having an uncle in the business. Uncles and aunts, cousins, grandparents and in-laws aren’t good enough. If you are, say, a refugee fleeing a despotic regime, you must stay put unless your parents, spouse or child already live in the U.S. and are willing to take responsibility for you.

Combined with Trump’s clean environment ban and his health care ban — no affordable coverage to the aged, the poor, the sick or the 30% of income tax filers who don’t hold a conventional full-time job with benefits — the travel ban rounds out a set of amenities for the wealthy and well-connected.

What does this have to do with Chapel Hill, other than that on the whole we skew toward the privileged? The national and state leadership serves as a warning to us on the local level to hold ourselves to a higher standard. I see disquieting signs that we’re slipping.

Over the past few years, I’ve watched the emergence of what I call Tea Party Democrats, people so rigidly progressive that if you show any flexibility you are treated as if you are a scourge on the party. Chapel Hillians who value a clean environment and green building or want to protect those who can least afford it from being flooded out are labeled as anti-growth and called disparaging names. If you want to expand affordable bus service to those who commute to low-wage jobs, or if you want to preserve some debt capacity for benefiting rural residents, you are castigated for getting in the way of perks for the well-to-do.

In Chapel Hill, Democrats make up the majority party, and I’m uneasy when local elected Democrats adopt the vindictiveness that characterizes the majority administration at the state and national level. We are a small enough town that we can revert to the days when local elected officials made decisions in the best interest of the entire town, including those of all races, religions, income levels and political persuasions.

In so doing, we can create a functioning town where you don’t have to know somebody to get in.
— Nancy Oates

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  1. plurimus

     /  July 3, 2017

    Well……..yes. Now is the summer of our discontent. Made dismal winter by this sun of [New] York [real estate]. Viciously tweeting while the country burns.

    The snarky us vs. them politics of facebook is just as bad on both ends of the political spectrum. Identity politics is the order of the day. It’s fashionable now to pick a side and hijack a meme. Never mind if you can clearly articulate your position and back it up with facts. The tribes are gathering.


  2. Del Snow

     /  July 3, 2017

    Heartfelt thanks, Nancy.

  3. George Entenman

     /  July 3, 2017

    While I don’t disbelieve you, Nancy, I don’t know what you’re referring to. Could you give some examples or are they in past posts?

  4. Bonnie Hauser

     /  July 3, 2017

    Great column Nancy. Maybe this will help George.

    An Indy reporter described us as “pseudo progressive”. He watched us exploit progressive principles like public education, social justice, and affordable housing for political purposes. We commit $$ but if someone asks questions about spending, outcomes or alternatives, its considered adversarial and quickly degrades into ideological warfare.

    That’s partly why our well funded schools have be unable to close the large achievement gap.

    Transportation is the poster child. Under the auspices of public transportation, we’re getting light rail that serves developers and wealthy commuters at the expense of bus service to the working classes. Those who questioned light rail were quickly labeled “anti-transit”, obstructionist or worse – “republican”. One county commissioner characterized public comment as “fake news”.

  5. bart

     /  July 4, 2017

    My Dad lives in a Republican stronghold. He was complaining about all the corruption and anger there and I told him I saw the exact same thing here. I said the behavior is the SAME, only the direction it is coming from is not.

    He said a Democrat couldn’t get elected dog catcher. I told him a Republican couldn’t get elected here. Both are one party towns and neither has a lot of social support or otherwise for folks who counter local orthodoxy!

    It’s been instructive, to live in both towns.

  6. bart

     /  July 4, 2017

    You do know that California has instituted a travel ban when using state funds. There are now eight states that California considers no-go.

    From Chattanooga Times Free-Press columnist Roy Exum:

    “California, long labeled “The Left Coast,” just added four more of our United States to an unfathomable hate list, imposing a moralistic “travel ban” on Texas, Alabama, South Dakota and Kentucky. That brings the number of states that California dislikes enough to purposely inflict economic pain to eight, this in just the last six months. Earlier this year Tennessee, Kansas, Mississippi and North Carolina were announced in the inaugural “off limits” assault.”

    “Here’s the deal: California state law AB 1887 – which went into effect Jan. 1, 2017 — staunchly prohibits state-funded and state-sponsored travel to states that authorize and require discrimination based on sexual gender, gender identity, gender expression or same-sex couples. Any state agency, departments, board, authorities and commissions associated with the University of California system, its regents, or California State University (system) are banned from the thus-far eight states now on the list. Individual travel is still permitted by California residents but not on the taxpayer’s dime.

    The California Assembly passed the law 56-21 and the state Senate passed it 26-12. This was hardly on a whim.”

    ” a spokesman for Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin also criticized California officials. “It is fascinating that the very same West Coast liberals who rail against the President’s executive order, that protects our nation from foreign terrorists, have now contrived their own travel ban aimed at punishing states who don’t fall in lockstep with their far-left political ideology,” said Woody Maglinger.”

    Well, I do know a gal in California. I’ll let her come here on the down low if necessary. But although she likes me (family, after all), she considers both my current home and the one I was born in unreconstructed. I doubt she’ll visit. Still, I’d love to see her!

  7. David Leinwand

     /  July 6, 2017

    You forgot the civil discourse ban…Great column Nancy!