Editorial: Right move immensely well short

Aug. 05, 2013 @ 03:49 PM

For its recent action, North Carolina can be deemed compassionate, caring and perhaps a few other niceties. But being called a leader because we’re the first state to offer compensation to eugenics victims is out of bounds and very disrespectful.

Not one soul should be looking a eugenics victim, or family member, in the eye and saying otherwise.

We’ve wrote before the amount of money will never compensate what happened from 1929 to 1974. During that time, our state — and other states — played the role of “The Almighty.”

Judgments were handed down on who could and who could not have children. Those deemed undesirable or feeble-minded, or who would not produce children that would better society — they were sterilized.

We’re talking as young as 10-year-olds deemed promiscuous or who did not get along with their schoolmates.

It was a robbery of the highest magnitude. The size of our welfare rolls were deemed more important. And there’s not enough dollars in the world to pay back the indignities suffered, the lives we’ll never know about and the greatness of children we’ll never know.

Moral Monday marches of this spring and summer? Lord have mercy, but where were the marches, outcries and arrests during the 45 years of the program and the nearly 40 since?

Beaten up by the masses as they may be for their freight train of power moves, give credit to this General Assembly and Gov. Pat McCrory. They did something no other state running a eugenics program has done when they put compensation into the state budget, albeit just $10 million.

Give credit also to community journalism. As far as we can see, the Winston-Salem Journal’s Kevin Begos began moving this mountain with a 2002 investigative series “Against Their Will” and Rep. Larry Womble carried the compensation effort to Jones Street in Raleigh.

Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue favored it, and the chambers led by House Speaker Thom Tillis and Sen. Phil Berger have worked with McCrory to make it reality.

North Carolina has sad chapters in its history, skeletons in the closet we’d rather not remember.

We have previously endorsed compensation, and as we said then, we know it falls immensely short. And it certainly does not make our state a leader.