Rep. Larry Pittman is the best entertainment in the North Carolina legislature. He came on most people’s radar screen back in 2013 when he introduced a bill that would establish a state religion in North Carolina. He was shut down by an embarrassed leadership but he’s never one to be easily deterred. On Wednesday, he introduced a bill that would override the US Supreme Court and ban same-sex marriages in North Carolina. Then, while most of the country was laughing at him, he defended his bill in a post on Facebook that calls Abraham Lincoln a tyrant and compares him to Hitler.
Pittman is special kind of ignorant. He’s a Christian fundamentalist preacher who puts his religion before his country and his beliefs before those of his fellow citizens. His bill to override the Supreme Court basically says that God’s Law, as he interprets it, takes precedent over the government’s. He also has his own twisted version of history to back up similarly twisted logic. In his telling, Lincoln waged an unconstitutional war that cost the lives of 800,000 white Americans.
While Pittman is fun to watch because he’s such a parody of himself, he’s also disturbing because he will probably continue to get re-elected. He represents a world view that is still too common in many parts of North Carolina and has been given new license because of the rise Donald Trump and the alt-right.
Throughout my life, I’ve heard these theories and always dismissed them as the rantings of ignorant reactionary extremists with very limited influence. They’re rooted in the ideology that drove the Ku Klux Klan at various times throughout our history. The KKK considered (and I guess still considers) itself a Christian organization intolerant of opposing views of religion and promoting a distorted version of history.
While the Klan’s influence waned after the success of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s and early ‘70s, remnants of their distorted views of history remained. Otherwise intelligent people would argue that the Civil War was an unconstitutional invasion of the South and not about slavery. Not that Pittman is intelligent, but that’s where he’s coming from.
I don’t think Pittman is any great threat and I’ve certainly had a good laugh at his expense. Speaker Tim Moore was smart to tell the press that his marriage ban bill was DOA. Kudos to Rep. Jason Saine for calling out Pittman while embracing Lincoln. However, the GOP should do more to rein in the likes of Pittman and disavow his divisive, ignorant and discriminatory ideology.