The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Wednesday January 26th

Opinion: Outside institutions should engage to fight HB 2

One of the biggest peaks in the news cycle following the passage of North Carolina’s House Bill 2 into law has been the announcement by PayPal that the company is canceling plans to open an office in Charlotte. PayPal is not alone in cutting off cultural and economic ties to North Carolina. 

Rahm Emanuel, the mayor of Chicago, has forbidden city employees from traveling here on nonessential official business and vowed to try to steal prospective business in North Carolina. Other nationally known politicians have made similar decrees.

Even the composer of “Wicked,” Stephen Schwartz, has forbidden the musical to be professionally performed in North Carolina.

These efforts, while they may be good faith efforts to put pressure on lawmakers to overturn the bill, strike this editorial board as shortsighted and self-congratulatory. We believe there are more constructive ways to oppose the law; namely, assisting North Carolinians opposed to the legislation rather than isolating the entire state.

Withdrawing cultural, political and economic exchanges with North Carolina, besides providing momentary blips of news stories, seems to do little to improve the lives of LGBT folks in the state.

First of all, it reduces North Carolinians to a monolithic caricature of backward bigots who don’t deserve to be in conversation with the rest of the country. Withholding jobs, political contacts and theater productions seems unlikely to convince the hard-liners who control North Carolina’s mechanisms of state power to reconsider their positions.

Indeed, Republican leaders have doubled down. House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger have doubled down on the bill and absurdly blamed the loss of the PayPal office on Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts and the “far-left Political Correctness Mob.”

Ironically, PayPal’s decision seems as if it will hurt the people of Charlotte, which passed the progressive ordinance that sparked the whole controversy, more than it may the legislators who overturned the original ordinance.

We appreciate the interest and solidarity from those outside of North Carolina. Your opposition to House Bill 2 is welcomed. But we must make sure our opposition to the bill is smartly targeted and self-critical.

It may be that PayPal’s withdrawal may help the fight. But we wonder if it wouldn’t help North Carolina’s LGBT population more if PayPal executives instead held fundraisers for challengers to legislators who supported the law. 

Emanuel, instead of threatening to poach our business, why not publicly endorse and campaign for Roy Cooper or North Carolina state legislators in opposition to the law? Stephen Schwartz, why not write a satirical song against House Bill 2 and similar pieces of legislation popping up across the country rather than depriving all North Carolinians the opportunity to see your popular musicals?

Furthermore, folks from other states cutting ties with North Carolinians only encourages the state’s young, progressive-minded folks with employment options to jump ship, perhaps dooming North Carolina to a future of regression.

A strong fight against bigotry requires engagement, not withdrawal.

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