Woody White and the Ministry of Truth

In George Orwell’s 1984 there was the Ministry of Truth “which concerned itself with news, entertainment, education, and the fine arts.” While the Board of New Hanover County, North Carolina, can hardly be compared with that institution, it seems that one commissioner, Chairman Woody White, is trying to change that. Upon hearing the announcement of a performance in the County, he used a Facebook post to attack entertainer Whoopi Goldberg for the thoughtcrime of being critical of President-elect Donald Trump, stating “I think having her here is a horrible idea.”

Well, I think Chad Essley sums up my thoughts nicely in this cartoon:

Now I’m not sure what are Mr. White’s credentials in his chosen field (I believe he is a personal injury lawyer) but Ms. Goldberg’s are impeccable. She is one of only twelve people to have won an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony award (EGOT), and only six of those are still alive. Bringing her to New Hanover county provides its citizens with an extremely rare opportunity to see a performer of this caliber.

She will be performing at Cape Fear Community College, which according to White is “devoted to developing the workforce” and having her perform at such a venue is “terrible”. It seems that Mr. White has forgotten that New Hanover County has a large number of jobs focused in the television and film industry, which still provides significant employment despite the State Legislature changing the tax incentives and passing discriminatory bills such as HB2. If Mr. White was truly interested in jobs versus promoting his own political agenda, one would think he would be less eager to alienate the entertainment industry from New Hanover County.

Now, in all fairness, I am somewhat sensitive to see such a personal attack on Whoopi Goldberg because I adore her.

You have to realize that I grew up in an idyllic little town called Asheboro, and much like Mayberry there weren’t any black people there. Well, there were black people, it’s just that I didn’t interact with them. My school was completely white until fourth grade when busing integrated the schools, but it wasn’t until I went off to the School of Science and Math that I truly spent time with people of color and even made some friends. So it was watching things like Goldberg on HBO in her “Direct from Broadway” special that opened my eyes to racial issues, and plus she is just incredibly funny. More than that, while I appreciate people who can make me laugh, I love it when they make me think. She is one such person, and she was even in Star Trek for heaven’s sake. She’s in my top five list of people I want to sit next to on a cross country flight.

As I do not live in New Hanover County, people like Mr. White might ask me to mind my own business, so I want to point out that I do own a house in Wilmington and have sent thousands of dollars in property taxes to the County’s coffers. But that doesn’t give me a say in how they are used, so I have to rely on the good people of that county to choose wisely. It looks like we are stuck with him through 2020, but I hope when that time comes people realize that his actions at a minimum come across as petty and at most cost jobs and devalue property. He has made New Hanover County something less that what it once was, and is preventing it from being the most it can be.

In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King “Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” It is up to us to remain vigilant to prevent 2024 from becoming 1984.