Were I a novelist, and not a particularly good one, and I wanted to convince my readers exactly how vile a particular character was, I would employ some obvious, sanctity-violating device. I would have him or her steal from an orphanage, or trip a man on crutches, or exploit a sacred holiday such as Christmas, or a consecrated anniversary such as 9/11, in the execution of some underhanded trick.
When it comes to life imitating bad art, leave it to the Republicans. When on the eighteenth anniversary of 9/11 the rest of America and much of the world (American flags were observed, here and there, flying at half staff in England) was commemorating that terrible day, each in their own fashion, the Republican majority half of the legislature of North Carolina was exploiting the sanctified memory of 9/11 in the execution of a double-dealing scam.
Earlier in the week the Speaker of the House of the North Carolina legislature announced that the legislature would not be taking votes during the 8:30 am session the morning of September the Eleventh. Any legislators, therefore, who wished to attend 9/11 commemorations, were welcome to do so. Thus was the minority Democratic half to the Speaker’s left nearly absent of all members, while every member of the majority half to the Speaker’s right were present. Finally they had the requisite supermajority necessary to override the Democratic governor’s veto of their Republican-slanted budget.
In other words, it was whispered about to all Republican members of the legislature that the sacred anniversary of September 11 was going to be used in this despicable ploy. The Republican members went along with it gleefully. They all stuck around while their victims attended 9/11 memorials in good faith. All they needed to override the Governor’s veto was a supermajority of the members present. Finally they had their supermajority, and in spectacularly bad faith, Republican Speaker Tim Moore called a vote on it.
In a moving display of the courage of outrage, Representative Deb Butler (D-New Hanover) grabbed a microphone and screamed, among other things, “This is a travesty of the process and you know it!” To no avail. The legislators passed the override, and once again Republicans demonstrated that there was no price too low that that they were willing to pay in the headlong pursuit of their grab for power.
When the nearly three thousand deaths of September 11 are reenacted literally in three thousand gun deaths every month in America, it’s little wonder that American lives are accounted cheap by Republicans in the pay of the NRA. Were Osama bin Laden still alive, that is, had not Barack Obama had him hunted down and justly killed, no doubt North Carolina legislators and other Republicans across America could teach the late Al-Qaeda leader a thing or two about terrorism, not even to mention gall and despicable, filthy trickery.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.