Charleston still has its credentials as a polite place, so it is with due respect for our legislators who are pushing the idea that we say, “No thank you. We do not want the state’s Confederate museum in the Lowcountry.”
We do appreciate Rep. Chip Limehouse’s efforts to save South Carolina taxpayers $3.6 million.
That is the amount being requested to renovate and add to the Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum in Columbia in order to accommodate the last Confederate flag to fly on the Statehouse grounds.
But we have a different suggestion: Spiff up the museum with donated money — even if it means a more modest redo.
After all, the only thing that has to change at the museum is the addition of the flag. Putting that in a very nice glass case couldn’t cost more than a couple of thousand dollars, and that should be easy for groups dedicated to Civil War history to raise.
It doesn’t need to be a $550,000 display as requested, and surely that one case shouldn’t require the addition of another room, costing an estimated $3.05 million.
The Hunley Museum in North Charleston doesn’t need the flag. The first combat submarine to sink a warship stands on its own as an attraction for history buffs. So does its reclamation from the ocean floor 137 years after being sunk in 1863. Its meticulous restoration is in itself a reason people want to visit.
The Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum has all it can handle with the aging aircraft carrier Yorktown, repayments for the restoration of the destroyer Laffey, and the deterioration of its Cold War submarine, the Clamagore, which it eventually plans to get rid of. If there is state support available for Patriots Point it should go to upgrade the Clamagore and the Yorktown.
North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey has said he doesn’t want the flag in his city.
Charleston Branch NAACP President Dot Scott opposes its being brought here, correctly saying, “The last thing we need right now is a reminder.”
The flag was taken down after nine people were killed in a racially motivated attack at Emanuel AME Church last June. The man charged with the murders posed with Confederate flags and guns in photos posted online.
Meanwhile, a citizens’ petition is being circulated to request elimination of the state budget item that would pay for exploring sites in Charleston for the museum. The petition also calls for raising private funds to display the flag and other memorabilia appropriate to the Relic Room.
This isn’t to suggest that Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum should be neglected, but to say that current plans for its expansion are excessive.
By all means, save taxpayers from unnecessary expenses.
The state can respectfully display the flag without spending $3.6 million.