All posts by Chuck Fager

Governor Cooper & the GOP Convention: Keep Carolina Safe!

Hundreds of people said “Yes!”  to my Facebook call for North Carolina officials to keep our citizens safe by standing firm on pandemic safety policies relating to the planned Republican National Convention set for Charlotte in August.

Thank you to everyone who “Liked” or commented on it. Now I have a request for followup:

Please send this message to Governor Roy Cooper. It only takes a moment or two.

Governor Cooper has an online email form, right here.  
olks from out of state can also use it (we want visitors to be safe here too!)

I just sent this message myself:

Dear Governor Cooper:

I strongly urge you to strictly enforce all pandemic safety policies applicable to the proposed political convention in Charlotte in August. This health crisis will not be over. Please keep Charlotte and North Carolina Citizens (and any visitors) SAFE.

Thank you.

Use your own words. If you prefer the phone, here is the office number listed on the Governor’s web page: (919) 814-2000.

The pandemic continues to spread in North Carolina. Confirmed cases, hospitalizations & deaths are all at new highs.

The Raleigh News & Observer reported this morning (May 26):

“At least 24,056 people have tested positive for the coronavirus and 790 have died as of Tuesday morning, state and county health departments say.

At least 627 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Monday, the highest daily total state officials have reported since the pandemic began. The number is up from 587 the day before.

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services on Monday also reported 742 new coronavirus cases as testing ramps up throughout the state. It was a jump from 497 new  reported cases on Sunday.”

This graph, from Reuters, shows the  steady, rapid rise of virus cases in the state, as of Mid-May.  The total has continued rapidly upward since then. Unlike some other states, NC  a peak or leveling off is not yet in sight here.

This worsening situation only heightens the risk of large mass gatherings , both to residents and visitors. And it won’t be over by August. It makes such policies as social distancing and wearing masks even more a matter of life and death.

Republican party leaders have threatened to move the convention from Charlotte unless Governor Cooper lifts pandemic policies from the venue. I believe this would be a very dangerous mistake. Cooper should Resist such threats and pressure.

if you share this view, tell Governor Cooper so. Politely and persistently. And please pass this message on.

The Spirit of Ida B. Wells returns to Memphis?

The May 25 New York Times features a description of  MLK50, a scrappy, pot-stirring news  operation in Memphis.  MLK50 was started by Wendi Thomas, a Memphis native and  veteran journalist.

We unapologetically exist to dismantle the status quo where it doesn’t serve low-income residents in Memphis, the overwhelming majority of whom are black,” Ms. Thomas said. “We’re not a black publication, but we frame the news from the perspective of the most vulnerable.”
Below: Wendi Thomas)

MLK50 won awards for an investigative report that exposed how a “nonprofit” local Methodist-affiliated hospital Which underpaid its workers, then sued many for being unable to keep up with medical bills in their own facility.

Continue reading The Spirit of Ida B. Wells returns to Memphis?

Indiana Trainwreck: Trauma in Midwestern Quakerdom


It didn’t look or feel like lighting the fuse to a load of dynamite.

But that’s what West Richmond Friends Meeting in Indiana did in June 2008 when they added a minute to their website.

They placed the post without fanfare.  But the fuse, once lit, sputtered and flashed for several years, and the ultimate explosion blew up a yearly meeting that was nearing its 200th anniversary.

A new book, Indiana Trainwreck, is the first to tell the story. West Richmond’s 2008 minute announced that the group had “reached unity” on supporting full inclusion of LGBT persons, concluding to do so was in harmony with their best understanding of the Bible, the thrust of Quaker/Christian history & witness, and the will of God.

News of West Richmond’s minute soon reached the leadership of Indiana Yeatly Meeting, the regional association of which West Richmond was a member. And they soon sent word to the group that they wanted the minute removed from West Richmond’s website.

The meeting pondered this demand, prayed over it, and declined to comply; the minute stayed.

Indiana Yearly Meeting authorities said this was unacceptable. Continue reading Indiana Trainwreck: Trauma in Midwestern Quakerdom

The Viral Turning Point, and After

Signs of the Times:

> a crowded Colorado restaurant on Mother’s’ Day.

> Jam-packed taverns in Wisconsin.

> Dr. Fauci sidelined in the White House, as pundits speculate on  when he’ll be fired.

Upshot: the lockdown season is ending, not with a bang, but a whimper— many whimpers, if anyone will still listen to those who are now to die needlessly.

Leana  Wen, an ER doc and public health prof,  told it like it is in the Washington Post today:

Unfortunately, due to a late start, inconsistent state actions and a lack of federal direction, most states have yet to see a consistent decline in cases, much less reduced them to low enough levels for [the lockdown] to work.

No state has achieved sufficient testing and contact tracing.
Reopening under these circumstances means we are giving up on containing covid-19.

“No state” includes my own, North Carolina. Continue reading The Viral Turning Point, and After

Point/Counterpoint: The Country Is Holding Together/ Oh, No It Isn’t

Two excellent articles on May 12,  arguing almost exactly opposite cases, and both (to me) almost equally persuasive.

First, the Optimist: Greg Sargent in the Washington Post: “Trump is badly botching the virus. New polls show Americans know it:

Greg Sargent

In what should be seen as a rebuke of President Trump, Anthony S. Fauci will tell a Senate panel on Tuesday that reopening the country too quickly risks causing “multiple outbreaks” of coronavirus, resulting in “needless suffering and death.”

Majorities of the American people appear to agree with Trump’s most prominent coronavirus task force member. Indeed, two new polls strongly suggest Trump has lost the argument over how to respond to the virus right now on just about every level.

Continue reading Point/Counterpoint: The Country Is Holding Together/ Oh, No It Isn’t

Armed men invade re-opening Downtown Raleigh NC; Twitter strikes back

Laugh or cry?

Not Making This Up Dept. (But hat-tip to “Nina” for her made-up contribution. See below.)

A dozen or so heavily armed white men walked through downtown Raleigh NC on a balmy re-opening Saturday.
to add spice to the incursion, they went into a Subway and ordered up foot-longs, which looked tiny compared to the hardware they were toting.

News photographers and police officers followed them, tho  there were no arrests.  But there were a couple of incidents:

One was that a marcher bearing a heavy lug wrench paused to intimidate a black couple who passed by, “armed” with only a pair of twins in a stroller.

The other came a bit later. The Raleigh News & Observer posted photos of the event, which immediately went viral.

But soon the photos drew the sardonic ire of “Nina” on Twitter, who reposted the photos, having replaced the long guns with equally long, sensual-looking subs . . .

In just a few strokes, her handiwork turned the incursion into something like an out-take from a Cold Opening on Saturday Night Live that didn’t quite work out. (That lug wrench bit has to go.)

“Nina” explained her work as meant to be funny, but added:

“We can’t shoot the virus and make it go away.”

And I cant unsee the images of grown men hugging five feet of Cold cuts & cheese slices, their First & Second Amendments just good enough to eat.

”Nina’s” work here was funny.

The rest of it was something else.

The Church, The Draft-Board & Me – Narrative Theology by George Amoss Jr.

Quaker Theology has published an occasional series of what we call “Narrative Theologies” essays: personal accounts of Friends’ religious pilgrimages, into (and sometimes, out of) the Society of Friends. These reflect, but are not tied to theological currents which regard, for instance, the Bible as a collection of stories rather than any kind of formal structured set of propositions. Their best outcome is more a conversation rather than a system.

However, our goal for them is that they be more than simply autobiography or memoir. The hope is that they also will be vehicles for reflection on the experiences recounted and analyzed– reflection by the author, the reader, and by the wide community of Friends.

For me theology differs from straight storytelling in that it involves, at some level, reflection and analysis of experience. Thinking, in short. (And George Amoss Jr.’s piece in the new issue of Quaker Theology, Issue # 34 is a fine example)

Such work is not exactly the same thing as “intellectual” activity or abstract and systematic reasoning. I don’t think one needs to be “an intellectual” to be a Friend, or even a theologian; but I do think there is an important place for such work in the Quaker community if we are to be a mature religious body.

George Amoss Jr. is well and widely read in theology, in and outside Quakerism, but his story here is as personal as it can get.  The few samples below will, I hope, prompt many Friends to turn to the full story on his website. The fuller story makes for a fine weekend read. And if you’re moved, please join the discussion via the Comments.

Brief excerpts from George Amoss Jr.: Continue reading The Church, The Draft-Board & Me – Narrative Theology by George Amoss Jr.

Politicians Just used to Steal from Us. Now They’re Killing Us Too

Guest Post by Mark D. Schwartz

[NOTE: Submitted as a comment, I thought this piece merited wider discussion. The views expressed here are his own, but I welcome their articulation.]

We’re Used to Politicians Stealing from Us. Now They are Killing Us: So, Where is the Outrage of the 1960s?

Mark Schwartz

​Starting college in the early seventies, I missed out on the campus activism of the 1960’s all in reaction to the indignities foisted on American citizens by their government, whether it be the Vietnam war or racial and economic inequality. I’ve only read about the leaders of the SDS or Weather Underground who populated my alma mater, Swarthmore College, and other colleges. By the time I entered as a freshman, the funders of the school had locked things down

​Five decades later I wonder why, despite all of the inequality, corruption and the outright obliteration of the middle class, and now Covid-19 deaths, such activism has not reignited.

​Motivated by my education and having studied President Franklin Roosevelt’s use of government to combat the Great Depression, I then felt that government, if not the solution to society’s problems, could at least provide a level of opportunity for the disadvantaged. Continue reading Politicians Just used to Steal from Us. Now They’re Killing Us Too

Kent State – May 4, 1970: Part One

May 4 2020 is the 50th anniversary of the Kent State killings of four students by National Guard troops during an anti-Vietnam war protest.

Only two years ago, on a balmy spring Sunday, was I able to visit & pay respects at Kent State, with my good friend Henry Bloom, of Cleveland. The scene was tranquil and idyllic, but like a corner of the fields around Gettysburg, ringed with memorials and monuments. Here are some snapshots.

Henry, at left, is a somewhat retired physician, less retired this spring because of the pandemic.


Kent State was a very major event for me, though I was hundreds of miles away in Massachusetts.  I could say a lot about this day and its aftermath, but this tee shirt below does it better.

And the music of the day brings it all back. Read this part of a poem for Allison Krause, one of the victims, and listen to Crosby Stills Nash & Young’s “Four Dead In Ohio:

From a poem Continue reading Kent State – May 4, 1970: Part One