OP-ED: ReOpen NC Protestors Have the Same Spirit that Made America Great

(Reverend Dr. Mark Creech is the Director of North Carolina’s Christian Action League, a non-profit dedicated to spreading Christian tenets and family values. He writes here on the movement to reopen the state’s economy in the era of government enforced pandemic lockdowns.)

This week hundreds of protestors, with ReOpen NC, descended on Raleigh, marching in front of the Governor’s mansion, calling on Governor Roy Cooper to lift his “Stay-at-Home” order and reopen the state for business.

The protestors represent more than 500,000 jobless claims in the state – a figure which doesn’t even denote all of the job losses – just the people who have filed for unemployment. Some businesses are failing despite assistance from the federal government, while others are on life-support and may not survive. The economy is taking a nosedive. The situation is more than critical.

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Despite all of the reassurances that “we are in this together,” for the many North Carolinians who were a part of the protest on Tuesday, it’s no comfort knowing that you’re stuck on a sinking ship, whether you’re sinking with companions or not. You’re still sinking. Jesus once said if blind leaders lead the blind, then everyone still falls into the ditch. Yeah,
they were all in it together too. You would think there would be genuine empathy for these protestors – people whose lives are being destroyed by a policy that allegedly was meant to save them. Apparently, there is no such empathy from many.

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The Raleigh News and Observer referred to the protestors as “misguided” and “selfish.” State Senator Wiley Nickel (D) from Wake County characterized them as “idiots” and a “small fringe group.” My wife shared with me numerous Facebook posts that disparaged them.

Admittedly, every protest group has its nuts and extremists, but we should be careful not to dismiss the whole for a few. The people who came to Raleigh with their placards that said, “I March Because Ranting on Facebook Won’t Change the World,” or “We Are Citizens Not Subjects,” or “Your Fear Doesn’t Remove My Rights,” or “The Power of the People is Stronger than the People in Power” actually epitomize some of the more admirable traits of the American character.

In an article posted on “The Imaginative Conservative,” Dwight Longenecker, with what I thought was some excellent wordsmithing, described conservatives who are beginning to question draconian-type coronavirus policies. He said:

Who are we as a nation, and where did we come from? We are all descended from immigrants – our ancestors fled their terrible circumstances to find a better future in America’s promise land. Their terrible circumstances were almost always caused by a tyrannical ruling class of some kind. They may have fled the pogroms in Russian, the persecution of the Catholics in Ireland, the hounding of the Protestants in France, or they may have simply run from the crushing poverty inflicted by greedy factory owners or obscenely rich aristocrats. Whoever and whatever their circumstances, they were the people with enough get-up and go to get-up and go, and woven into their experience and passed onto their progeny was a dislike and a distrust of the ruling class.

Suspicion of the big guy, the big government, the establishment, the insiders, the experts, and the elite is written into the American genetic code. We’re born flying the flag that says, ‘Don’t Tread on Me.’”

Longenecker continued describing these same people as “down-to-earth, honest, hardworking, thrifty, and clear-eyed.”

“His religion has taught him to believe in original sin, so on a good day, he’ll trust, but verify…He’ll give you the benefit of the doubt, but first, he’ll give you the doubt. He’s ready to look after his neighbor, but he’ll look after his own family first. This independent, somewhat stubborn, entrepreneurial American spirit is admirable. It may cause us to be overly suspicious of the ruling class and educated experts. It may make us unduly cautious of foreigners, politicians, billionaires, and celebrities, but it is also this same spirit that has made America great.”

Idiots? Hardly! These people come from a long tradition of what is best about North Carolina, and what is best about America.

Does the Raleigh News & Observer think American journalist, Brit Hume, who had a 23-year career with ABC News, who contributed to World News Tonight with the late Peter Jennings, who spent 12 years as the Chief White House correspondent for ABC News, and has also been the Senior Political Analyst for Fox News, is “misguided,” “selfish,” and an “idiot”?

Here’s what Hume said earlier this week:

“I think it’s time to consider the possibility that this lockdown, as opposed to the more moderate mitigation efforts, is a colossal public policy calamity.”

Ben Carson, a renowned neurosurgeon, said this week:

What we have to realize is that there are benefits and risks with life… People have been terrified because we’ve talked about the bad. One of the things we don’t seem to talk about a lot is the number of people who have recovered, which is going to be about 98% of all the people who get it [the virus]. They’re going to do quite well. We really need to start talking that up and start talking about what we can do, not how we are going to be harnessed. Because the fact of the matter is, if we destroy the economic infrastructure of our country, then we are going to lose a lot more people than we lost from this virus. We can’t operate out of hysteria, because when people do, they don’t do logical things.”

Former Republican congressman Ron Paul, who is also a medical doctor, wondered out loud in his weekly column whether the total lockdown strategy to combat COVID 19 was a “big mistake.”

Are all three of these exceptional Americans “misguided,” “selfish,” on the fringe, and “idiots” too? I think not. Neither are the protestors who came to Raleigh reflecting these same concerns and believe that there is a better way to address the COVID 19 threat than a “one size fits all” response.

Finally, there is also a subgroup of people who made up the marginalized protestors in Raleigh – a people for which I have a strong affection – a people who have always been in the vanguard of making America great. They are conservative evangelical Christians. They place their deepest trust in the transcendent power of an omniscient and omnipotent God and find it most difficult to yield to an uncritical faith in medical science. Furthermore, they know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that no virus determines the number of their days; only God can do that.

The strength of their faith exudes confidence to face any threat with a calm spirit and a sober mind. I regret that I wasn’t able to be with the folks who marched on Tuesday. I had other duties that demanded my attention. But I was with them in spirit. Although belittled, their message is of pressing importance for all of North Carolina.

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