By TJ Acena, PQ Monthly
Hey, it’s 2014. What is going on in America?
What’s going on is Republican states are enacting severe restrictions on access to abortions (and cutting it out of the Affordable Care Act) and passing voter suppression laws. What’s going on is huge religious organizations are using their resources and followers to fight marriage equality (Over half the states still prohibit same sex marriage…including Oregon). What’s going on is the cutting of unemployment and social services in the name of austerity. What’s going on is that the unions, once the backbone of Democrats, are being dismantled. And to top it off, right now Kansas is trying to pass a bill that would allow any employee, including public employees, to refuse service to LGBTQ people on religious grounds (this probably won’t pass but…ugh).
What happened is that Occupy, love it or hate it, was the last big political movement we had that tried to unite progressives. And it was systematically shut down camp by camp and was crippled.
It’s easy to think that eventually our liberal sensibilities are just going to overtake the old guard (just wait till they’re all dead!), but the problem with that is society needs our liberal sensibilities right now. It turns out North Carolina is the new front for the battle against conservatives and the Moral Monday movement is the new general of this progressive army. Dahlia Lithwick on Slate sums up what happened when North Carolina went to the right in 2012:
The legislature promptly raised taxes on the bottom 80 percent, eliminated the earned-income tax credit for 900,000 people, slashed education spending, passed radical gun legislation, declined the Medicaid expansion (leaving 500,000 of its poorest citizens without health insurance), and passed a draconian abortion bill that was tacked onto a motorcycle safety law. The state, in short, turned on its own workers, its own minorities, its own teachers, its own doctors, its poor, its women, and its prisoners, with what has looked like unbridled glee.
This came along with the standard Republican voter suppression measures. Moral Mondays were the response of those people of North Carolina who became the targets of the government who figured out that a Change.org petition would not be enough to challenge their government. These protests have been going on since last April and are only growing in strength. At the last protest it’s estimated that between 80,000 – 100,00 people showed up; Rev. William Barber of the state NAACP addressed the crowed:
“We are people, we are natives and immigrants, we are business leaders and workers and unemployed, we are doctors and the uninsured, we are gay, we are straight, we are student, we are parents, we are retirees. We are North Carolina. We are America. And we are here, and we ain’t going nowhere.”
You’ll be interest to know that one of the demands of Moral Mondays is the defense of LGBTQ rights and fundamental equality under the law, which may seem strange considering the name of the movement.
If you are wondering why you haven’t heard of this it’s because it’s not getting covered in the “mainstream media” (yes I know how annoying that makes me sound). Strange, considering the numbers at protests, the fact that they are weekly, and that over the last year around 1,000 people have been arrested at them. But Moral Mondays are spreading past North Carolina, so I think that will change.