An old adage that I recall from childhood appears more true today than ever. “If you give some people an inch, they will take a mile.”
Before current college-aged South Carolinians were born, schools and other institutions in this state were integrated and Jim Crow Laws scrapped with minimum turmoil. Later, lawmakers proclaimed national, state and county MLK Holidays and began naming highways, streets, schools and other landmarks for the late civil rights leader. MLK is the only American to be so honored.
Then came demands. “Remove the battle flag from the capitol dome or the NAACP will lead a boycott of the state.” In order to maintain peace, a compromise was reached and agreed to by all parties. The flag would be removed from the dome and placed appropriately at the memorial of the Confederate soldier on the capitol grounds. As part of the agreement, a large monument heralding Black history would be erected on the capitol grounds. The agreement was made into law.
When a crazed gunman murdered several Black members of a Charleston church, the President of the United States, Governor of South Carolina and an untold number of leftist organizations immediately declared the alleged killer guilty of a racist hate crime. They blamed the murders on the battle flag flying at the soldier’s monument. They demanded it be removed. The Governor stampeded the legislature into passing a law removing the flag. as flag opponents cheered and jeered.
The Accused Murderer has been declared guilty without a trial.
The removal of the flag from the monument simply moved the battle to the next target:
A small group of students has demanded that the name of Clemson’s Tillman Hall be changed. It was named for a leading Democrat, educator and advocate for “Jim Crow” laws in South Carolina as retaliation for abuses during radical Reconstruction, and insurance against return of Black rule. Tragically, the former slaves were victims of both the abusive Yankee Radical Republicans and angry Southern Democrats seeking reprisals. The anti-Tillman group is currently hatching a scheme to use a Black football player boycott to force a change in the building name and achieve other demands.
Last week a small group of Citadel Cadets were allegedly filmed wearing white shirts and trousers with pillow cases over their heads and participating in a skit titled: The Ghosts of Christmases Past.
Someone was offended and demanded the students be expelled, the college president fired and a small flag removed from inside a Citadel building.
It is disturbing to observe the continual worsening of race relations. Those who benefit either financially or politically from racial strife fan the flames of hatred.
There is evidence to support a conclusion that the hatred of Blacks for Whites in this country is much worse now between people who were never slaves nor slave owners than it was between former slaves and their owners.
A few years ago, one of my sons gave me a “Kindle” for Christmas that was loaded with several books. One of the volumes was titled: Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States From Interviews with Former Slaves. It was fascinating reading and very politically incorrect.
In the early 1900s, the federal government realized the former slaves were growing old and in a few years would all be dead and no one had bothered to record their experiences. Most of the books that had been written about them were fiction promoting a point of view. The government sent a team of interviewers into the South. They spent months interviewing former slaves. This was to be Phase One to be followed by more interviews. When the first interviews were compiled and printed out, the results were not as expected. Many of the former slaves expressed affection for their former owners, their family members and the special care they received. There was virtually no mention of abuse except by slave foremen who administered punishment for certain infractions.
The disappointed government officials conferred and cancelled the remainder of the project. The transcripts of Phase One remain on file in the Library of Congress and are available through several sources.
It is tragic that these transcripts are not required reading in our Schools.