Roy Cooper goes to work everyday surrounded by rebels. Bronze ones, anyway. On September 8, the governor filed a request to move these tributes to treason. This was one of the wisest moves of he has made.
As I’ve written before, the monuments should go. Not mere artifacts, these statues confer a sense of honor on a cause that doesn’t deserve it. They divide the people in public spaces. At best, they should be moved to areas strictly defined by Civil War history. Friday, the governor took steps in that direction.
This would be admirable in any case, but Cooper deserves particular credit. The knock on him has been that he’s too cautious. But this move was far from risk-free. Public opinion is not quite on the anti-monument side, and the Historical Commission may well reject his motion. Nevertheless, he persisted.
By doing so, Cooper addressed a political dynamic that could turn dangerously explosive. The left, never his best friends, grew restive during the Durham incident. Cooper needed to reassure progressives that they could trust him. He did that in the best way, advancing their goals while applying a quiet emollient to our wounded civic life.
While the risks are real, there’s also reason for optimism. Cooper probably wouldn’t done this if he didn’t see a chance of success. His proposal seems to satisfy the monument law. And the typically aggressive Berger press team spoke in a tone of impotence.
Cooper moved the ball forward on Friday. And if it works? Well, I have some ideas on what to do next.