North Carolina has been ground zero in the war on women’s reproductive rights in recent weeks and months. Even though protests have been ongoing, Governor Pat McCrory this week signed a sweeping anti-abortion bill into law that, according to one report in the Washington Post, will “make abortion clinics adopt some of the regulations that apply to ambulatory surgery centers, require pregnant women to take an initial dose of abortion medication under a doctor’s supervision in a clinic, allows health-care providers to opt out of performing abortions if they object, eliminates abortion insurance coverage for city and county employees and bars state residents from paying for the coverage through state health exchange plans.”
As the state government there was working on this legislation, McCrory refused to meet with opponents of the bill. But after the governor signed it into law, he did something that made guest writer and North Carolina resident Marty Long steaming mad. Thank you, Marty, for allowing us to share this at The Broad Side:
Yesterday, Governor Pat McCrory took a plate of cookies to a group of women outside the governor’s mansion who were protesting the bill he signed this week taking away a multitude of women’s reproductive health care rights.
They chanted back at him, “Pat, Pat, Pat was rude. Would you give cookies to a dude?”
His spokesperson responded with this comment:
“Sometimes a plate of cookies is just a plate of cookies.”
Wait. His spokeswoman released that statement.
But she’s wrong about the cookies. If I take a plate of cookies to a neighbor, it means something. Maybe they’ve had a bad week, and it’s a plate of cookies that says,
“I’m sorry it’s been rough. This is me caring through cookies.”
I might take a plate of cookies to our friend’s monthly neighborhood happy hour. That would be a plate of cookies that says,
“Thank you for including us. This is me building community through cookies.”
Maybe I send a plate of cookies into school when it’s my child’s birthday. Those cookies say,
“Let’s celebrate together. It’s a special day, and I’m sharing my joy with you through cookies.”
His spokeswoman knew better. She knows that a plate of cookies always means something. Nothing goes without meaning. Especially in Southern Politics.
Here are some things that plate of cookies could have said:
“Sorry I signed a bill that we tried to pull off as being about women’s health but really will be closing abortion clinics all across the state. Oh, and sorry we called it a motorcycle safety bill. We thought it was funny at the time, but I see now that it was degrading and hurtful.”
“Sorry I took time to step out and play catch while you were asking for my time and attention earlier this summer. I should have known you had things to tell me that weighed heavy on your hearts and minds, and that it was my duty to listen.”
“Sorry I’ve done nothing but mock you with my condescending ways and then called you the ones misinterpreting it because I was just being nice and you are too sensitive. I should own my actions and be more honest.”
“Sorry I keep doing things that are ruining our state. I just can’t seem to help myself. It’s so easy to make all this political stuff about me and my buddies. Here, have some cookies to help you feel better.”
They didn’t say any of that, of course. What they did say was this:
“Aren’t you pathetic, still outside my mansion, protesting the motorcycle safety bill. It’s signed. It’s done. Have a cookie and go home.”
“Have a cookie. If you were at home, you could have made them yourself.”
“It’s not about your opinion on my policies. It’s about COOKIES.”
“I didn’t have time for you when the Legislature was still in session, but look how kind I am now. I bring you COOKIES.”
“Here are some cookies. Just because I’m a swell guy. Now go ahead and point out what they really are, and I’ll release a statement dismissing you again, calling you overly sensitive. Making it seem like you really just don’t understand how things in the big boys’ world work.”
I’m discouraged. I’m disillusioned. The state I came to 15 years ago is turning into the state I left behind. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been told, “You are just too sensitive. This is just the way things are.”
I’m not too sensitive. I see things for what they really are. And that plate of cookies, Governor McCrory? Well, it would have been far better received if it had come with a main course of stop-screwing-our-state-over.
This is it. This is the time where we decide if we are going to let North Carolina continue on its downward spiral, or if we are going to stand up and call out the cookies. I’m calling them out.
You will not trivialize this, Governor McCrory. You will not attempt to position protesters in such a way that you can shrug and say:
“I took them cookies. I’m a nice guy. What more could they possibly want?”
You know what we want. We want our state back. Cookies aren’t fixing anything.
Cross-posted with permission from Don’t Take the Repeats blog.
Raised in Mississippi, Marty Long moved “up north” fifteen years ago, according to her mother. North Carolina is home now, and she spends her time as a musician by recording, performing, writing, and working in DogwoodVu, the recording studio she and her husband built. Married to Kevin in 2006, Marty is also mama to stepdaughter Mallory (17) and sons Christopher (5) and Colin (3). She keeps dogs, chickens, and guppies, sews, writes, and works part-time with arts advocacy group, Arts North Carolina.