#44 - Be careful what you ask for …
Over the past couple of years, the NAACP and other Black organizations have made three requests to the South Carolina legislature that have become demands. The requests were for 1.) a memorial honoring Black South Carolinians, 2.) a Martin Luther King, Jr. birthday holiday, and 3.) the Confederate flag to be removed from the capitol dome and the legislative chambers.
Prior to this year the legislature had approved a Black memorial on the capitol grounds. News reports indicate this will be the only memorial to Blacks on any state capitol grounds. They had also approved a Martin Luther King, Jr. birthday holiday, but had it mixed with several other holidays that state employees could choose from individually. Last fall the NAACP called for a tourism boycott of South Carolina until the flag came down off the dome.
During the past few weeks all three of the NAACP's requests have come to fruition. Groundbreaking was held fro the Black memorial to be built on the capitol grounds, a separate Martin Luther King, Jr. birthday holiday was passed for all state employees, and a week ago the legislature approved removing the Confederate flag from the capitol dome.
So what is the reaction of the NAACP? Total disgust. Kwelsi Mfume, the president of the NAACP calls for an expanded boycott of South Carolina because how two of them came about was not what he says he meant. Mfume previously served in the US Congress so he should know that watching the political process is like making hot dogs. The process is not the nicest, but the product is edible. He is mad about the holiday because at the same time they made Martin Luther King, Jr. birthday a full holiday, the legislature took one of the other floaters, Confederate Memorial Day, and made it a fixed holiday also. At the same time they voted to move the Confederate flag from the dome, they chose to fly it behind the Confederate Memorial.
Memorials we need to remember are normally done for dead people of causes that suffered death. The Confederate Memorial in memory of those who fought for the Confederacy. The Civil War was not fought about slavery. If it was, why were slaves not freed in the loyal states until the end of the war? Why did the Emancipation Proclamation apply only to those states that continued to stay in a state on rebellion? The war was an economic and political power war. Would the South or the North control the economy, and where did the government power lie, in DC or in the individual states?
While the debate was occurring on the flag, protestors defaced the Confederate memorial. Mfume wonders why the flag removal bill includes a fence around the memorial. Mfume stated in protests that we would never allow a Nazi flag in the United States, but what did some flag protestors do but burn a Nazi flag (if we don't allow them, how did they get one) and a Confederate flag. There is a difference in Nazi Germany and the Confederacy. Even if you argue the Confederacy existed only to sustain slavery, they did not try to kill every Black, as Hitler tried and was nearly successful with the Jews. These antics of the protestors caused the legislators to heighten the new flagpole, put up lights and a fence.
Several months ago no one would have believed the legislature would remove the flag, for sure not this quick. Yet it has occurred, with both Democrats and Republicans providing leadership and six of seven Blacks in the Senate supporting the compromise. Mfume and the NAACP should be celebrating the South Carolina legislature finding a quick solution and supporting all three requests. Instead they have chosen to condemn. The question of a flag is a political issue; the question of how people are treated is a principle.
To Mfume and the NAACP you should have long ago learned "Be careful what you ask for, because you just might get it". In this case they asked for three items and got all three, but with items they may not have intended attached.
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