Welcome to Goose Creek - home of Rotarians, Masons and Lions, oh my!
And, as the sign leading into town now says, Duck Ditch is also the turf of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Talk about your "Oh, my."
Seems this new welcome sign is the result of a little consternation and compromise. See, the Goose Creek branch of the NAACP called Mayor Michael Heitzler a while back to complain about the sign, seeing as how the SCV's logo includes the Confederate battle flag.
That old chestnut.
Heitzler explained the logo is protected free speech, as various court cases and a recent attorney general opinion says. So NAACP chapter President David Cakley asked if his organization could be included on the sign as well.
Of course, Goose Creek said. It's already up.
Folks, that's exactly how you nip a budding controversy in the press release.
And, for that matter, that's exactly how South Carolina as a whole should operate.
As a man beaten senseless by Los Angeles police officers once said, can't we all just get along?
The response to this story has been alternately heartening and disturbing.
Lonnie Randolph, state chairman of the NAACP, doesn't like the Confederate battle flag image, not one bit.
And it is hard to blame him.
The Confederacy was pro-slavery - in fact that is the reason the Confederate States of America were formed. Southern politicians wanted state rule on issues, and the predominant issue was slavery. Just read South Carolina's "declaration of immediate causes" for secession if you don't believe it.
Slavery gets about 18 mentions, and there is no other cause listed.
However - and this is a big one - that does not mean all those men fighting in gray were trying to preserve slavery. Only a small, single-digit percentage of people owned slaves.
It would have been hard to convince hundreds of thousands of men to take up arms to defend the rights of the uber-rich to continue to rake in gross profits on the back of human bondage. So the war was sold to the masses as a battle for "states' rights" - without ever outlining exactly which rights were in need of defense.
It wasn't the first, or last, time the poor and middle class were duped into fighting the battles of rich people.
The Sons of Confederate Veterans honors the memory of their ancestors who fought in this nation's deadliest conflict, its defining moment. They are a history organization, and a vast majority of them have no political bent.
Certainly, few of them would argue against civil rights.
That's why Brian Lee Merrill, commander of the Goose Creek branch of the SCV, welcomed the NAACP to the town's welcome sign.It was simply the right thing to do.
A good model
The biggest problem here has been the reaction of the chattering class on social media.
These people call the NAACP a hate group, say they don't belong on the sign, they only stir people up.
Talk about not knowing your history.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People defends the civil rights of American citizens. It speaks for people with no voices. And you would have to be an idiot to think that black people have not been through enough that they need an organization to stand up for those long-denied rights.
Most of the people who get offended by the NAACP's efforts, particularly to remove the Confederate battle flag from signs, apparently don't understand or empathize with the plight of African-Americans, or know much about Jim Crow laws, separate schools, separate drinking fountains.
Some of these Neanderthals argue there should be a White History Month since blacks have one. Uh, there are 11 of them, at least.
The Sons of Confederate Veterans deserve high praise for showing themselves to be better than some of their illiterate defenders. And Goose Creek deserves a medal for doing the right thing. And Cakley showed a lot of good sense, too.
It would be great if Goose Creek was a microcosm for the rest of the state. If both sides knew the other's history a little better, we might actually all get along.
Reach Brian Hicks at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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