On capitalism and decorum

by Charles Davenport, Jr.Hypocrisy and double-standards are to be expectedfrom the old media, but mainstream “journalists” seemintent upon lowering the bar further still, alienating whatremains of their dwindling audience. As demonstratedrecently in Greensboro, media bias is most conspicuouswhen an issue involves conflict between a black liberal(the perpetual victim) and a conservative (the vile oppressor).Such was the case at a Sept. 16 Guilford CountyBoard of Commissioners meeting.Early in the meeting, Isabella Adkins, treasurer ofConservatives for Guilford County, spoke to the board.She is a persistent and effective critic of county tax ratesand spending policy. A native of Romania, she speaksEnglish fluently, albeit with an accent.During a separate discussion of federal stimulusbond financing of a downtown hotel an hour or so later,Commissioner Carolyn Coleman endorsed the projectby describing it as a “capitalistic enterprise” in whichgovernment could help establish a business and providejobs. “This is America,” Coleman said. “This is the wayit works.”Several members of C4GC booed and hissed atColeman’s portrayal of capitalism as a partnership withgovernment.“I know where you from,” the commissioner responded,“but I’m from America.” Some observers believeColeman’s nativist remarks were directed squarely atAdkins. From the local mainstream press, there has beenvery little interest in the matter, and no condemnation ofthe commissioner’s remarks.We are well aware of what would ensue, had a conservative— say, Commissioner Billy Yow — made asimilar comment to a black immigrant: scathing lead editorials,24-7 news coverage and daily press conferences,in which demands for the commissioner’s resignationwould be issued. After all, xenophobia (when practicedby conservatives) offends the sophisticated sensibilities of“journalists.”C4GC has demanded a public apology, whichColeman insists is not forthcoming. The stage is set forthe issue to be revisited at the next meeting, which takesplace Oct. 7.Remarkably, very few have commented on the factthat Coleman, an anointed member of the Ruling Classwhose experience is confined to the public sector, considersherself qualified to lecture Isabella Adkins and C4GCon the meaning of capitalism. The current state of theeconomy — record-breaking debt, soaring unemploymentand a seemingly endless recession — casts gravedoubt on the Coleman theory: that private enterprise benefitsfrom government “assistance.”Adkins owns and operates a small business with herhusband, a high school dropout who once lived in a WestVirginia trailer with no water or sewer. “He came toNorth Carolina,” Adkins says, “with a car, a few clothesin the back seat and $50 in his pocket.” Isabella’s originsare also humble: She arrived from Romania “with onebag full of books and one change of clothes.” Fromthose volumes she absorbed the philosophy of Ayn Rand,which mandates a strict separation between governmentand private enterprise. This is a fundamental conservativebelief.“Commissioner Coleman,” says Adkins, “has neverheld a job in the private sector. She has never received apaycheck from a private employer. She has never owneda small business. She has never had to worry about makingpayroll.”Coleman’s perspective on the relationship betweengovernment and business is the polar opposite of theview espoused by Adkins and C4GC. WEB Du Bois, afounder of the racial-agitating, grievance-perpetuatingNAACP, was a self-proclaimed Communist and enemyof capitalism. From his autobiography: “I believe in communism….I believe that all men should be employedaccording to their ability and that wealth and servicesshould be distributed according to need…. After earnestobservation I now believe that private ownership of capitaland free enterprise are leading the world to disaster.”Adkins flatly rejects the NAACP and all that it standsfor: “Miss Coleman is a prominent member of theNAACP, and her comment towards me” demonstratesthat the organization “is only concerned with the advancementand equal opportunity of African-Americans.”If Commissioner Coleman is not an authority oncapitalism, perhaps her field of expertise is etiquette anddecorum. She told the Greensboro News & Record thatIsabella Adkins and C4GC owe her an apology for interruptingthe meeting:With that in mind, consider this lede from the RaleighNews & Observer’s website in July: “A mid-meetingdisruption brought tonight’s Wake County school boardmeeting to a halt with a group of chanting protestersrefusing to relinquish the microphone and police arrestingmore than a dozen of them.”Because the state head of the NAACP, William Barber,had been arrested for trespassing on school property earlierthat day, the leader of the protesters was none otherthan Commissioner Carolyn Coleman. While addressingthe board, Coleman summoned two-dozen anarchiststo her side and joined them in a chant opposing WakeCounty’s neighborhood schools policy.But weren’t we just informed that “talking over”elected officials and “making noises” constitute “crossinga line”? The objective observer (or reporter) wouldcondemn the actions of Coleman and her mob in Raleighas, at minimum, a breach of decorum. Not surprisingly,however, Coleman’s actions were portrayed in glowingterms in the local press. According to old-media reporters,it is not only acceptable, but also commendable, todisturb the peace, get arrested, and shut down meetings todemonstrate one’s moral superiority and commitment toliberal causes. Imagine the howls of outrage if Adkins andC4GC employed similar tactics.
Charles Davenport Jr. ( is a freelance writer living in Greensboro.