Barbara Ehrenreich: Antichrist of North Carolina

| August 18, 2003

After Nickel and Dimed -- an expose on working poor in America -- was adopted by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as a reading for incoming students, author Barbara Ehrenreich expected some debate -- but nothing like the controversy she encountered. At the beginning of the school year a group of students and right-wing state legislators held a press conference damning the book as a 'classic Marxist rant' and 'intellectual pornography,' Ehrenreich notes in The Progressive. But, after reading the full-page ad in the Raleigh News and Observer, Ehrenreich realized that 'this controversy was less about the book than it was about me.' The ad said she was a Marxist, atheist, and enemy of the American family. For the next few weeks she debated numerous times on conservative radio shows throughout the state. She says the topics of Marxism vs. feminism and Christian altruism vs. social pragmatism were able to distract her for a while. Still, the real issue -- '60 percent of North Carolina families with children do not earn enough to meet basic, bare-bone, needs' -- was left untouched by the controversy.
-- Joel Stonington

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