Of course I lived in North Carolina from January, 2010 into May, 2013. I worked with some really good people, some usually good people doing good work, and a few I will never understand how they reconciled their views with the Fundamental Principles of the Red Cross. In his Essay on the Immortality of the Soul, David Hume (1711-1776) wrote:
“Heaven and hell suppose two distinct species of men, the good and the bad. But the greatest part of mankind float betwixt vice and virtue.”
In the New York Times Op Ed pages this morning was a lament: “Why Should My Store Be Boycotted Over a Law I Despise?” and that’s a perfectly legitimate question from the owners of Malaprop’s Bookstore/Cafe in Asheville, NC.
Asheville – and I do love me some Asheville – is a quirky city in what is really a pretty inhospitable part of the country. Asheville had one of the few Democratic congressmen in the state – albeit a DINO – until the district was gerrymandered in 2011 to bring it back to the Religious Right. I saw this article on Facebook this morning (“Entire Fucking City of Asheville Moving Out of North Carolina”) , and I could totally see it being true if it was possible to do such a thing.
The problem is that it’s functionally impossible to boycott part of an institution. I’ve been dealing with this for years now, and have never come up with anything better than a least objectionable compromise. If I remember to get gas just before I leave New Mexico, I can get across Texas on I-40 without spending money in Texas,; but, anywhere south of I-40, I’m going to have to support Texas. I always have to support Arizona, too; it’s just too wide.
I’m stopping by Asheville in a couple of weeks, and I know that any commerce I conduct in Asheville will generate income to Raleigh, but I’ve put this trip off for a couple of years now and I’m damn near 70 and I’m not putting it off again. While I’m there I intend to try very hard to only spend money within Asheville city limits, and I probably won’t buy any books from Malaprop’s because it’s probably not going to be necessary. It’s not personal.
I’m aware that I’m rationalizing my tacit support for institutional bigotry. I don’t know if I’ll be going back into Dixie again, but I do need to go at least once and I don’t have time to wait until there’s a sea change in their culture; it’s been at least 150 years already.