The most recent issue of Vanity Fair has an eye-roll of a story on the “strange world of conservative college women,” focused on the very persecuted UNC College Republicans. The story features a lot of whining about how the campus’s liberals are mean to them (“They say they want to be all intersectional and everything, except when it’s us”; “I was called a bitch for carrying a Trump poster across campus”; “It’s really hard to date here,” etc.), which, you know, great. But we found ourselves drawn to this particular paragraph, which kicks off the article’s fourth section:
“I don’t think Donald Trump is racist,” said Caitlyn McKinney, one night in September over dinner at the Top of the Hill, a Chapel Hill restaurant with a view of the mountains. “He’s just making himself a consumable product,” said Cammie McMahan. Like Maggie, Cammie and Caitlyn said they believed the president’s stoking of race hatred was just politics—a kind of “branding.”
Put aside the very weird rationalization that Donald Trump isn’t really a racist but merely plays one on TV for the benefit of racists—because that’s … better?—and instead focus on this very weird detail: “one night in September over dinner at the Top of the Hill, a Chapel Hill restaurant with a view of the mountains.”
Chapel Hill, according to Google Maps, is approximately 159 miles from where the mountains start in Western North Carolina**. Human beings cannot see that far, even from the third floor of a Chapel Hill restaurant. In perfect conditions, standing atop Mount Everest, the horizon would be about 230 miles away; from a tall building on a clear day, you can see mountains about a hundred miles away, according to NASA.
Needless to say, there are no actual mountains within a hundred miles of Top of the Hill. Perhaps writer Nancy Jo Sales was referring to Occoneechee Mountain, which is twelve miles to the northwest of the restaurant. Of course, Occoneechee Mountain—the highest point in the Triangle—isn’t really a mountain, as it only rises 867 feet in the air. Ignoring that quibble, it’s still a stretch: From 65.6 feet in the air—well taller than the three-story Top of the Hill—the horizon is 9.6 miles away. Besides, Occonnechee Mountain is not mountains, plural, which is what Sales wrote that Top of the Hill offered a view of.
Which leaves us only one plausible conclusion: Nancy Jo Sales is a mutant with superhuman vision.
Vanity Fair kinda buried the lede here.
**Update: Someone on Twitter pointed out that I have overlooked the Uwharrie Mountains, which are a mere seventy miles southwest of Chapel Hill. Depending on your definition of a “mountain,” they could possibly qualify. The highest peak is 1,188 feet. You still can’t see it from TOPO, though.
Also it’s “lede” not “lead”. Love, a high school English teacher <3
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