Keep the Charlottesville Mayhem Out of Charleston
August 23, 2017
By John Steinberger | Contributing Writer
On Saturday, Aug. 12, there was a planned protest at Emancipation Park in Charlottesville, Vir. over the planned removal of a statue dedicated to Confederate General Robert E. Lee.
A permit was obtained for the protest by a Southern heritage group. However, the group was joined by neo-Nazis and members of the Ku Klux Klan, both racist groups. Also at the scene was the leftist group Anti-fa, which claims the imperative to use force to attack people who it considers to be fascists.
The two extremist groups clashed violently, and video footage shows that Charlottesville police did nothing to keep them apart. A white racist from Ohio drove his car into a group of peaceful protesters and killed a 32-year-old woman. Many people in the clash were badly injured, as combatants used clubs, pepper spray, water bottles filled with cement, and other weapons to attack each other.
A reporter from The Hill news service tried to video the clash and was knocked down by an Anti-fa rioter with a black mask over his face. Media coverage of this violent confrontation was almost non-existent.
President Donald Trump was heavily criticized for his remarks on the Charlottesville mayhem. He initially condemned violence and hatred wherever it exists. Three days later, he said, “I think there is blame on both sides.” He cited the potential removal of the statue of Robert E. Lee. He posed the question about whether people will be calling for the removal of statues honoring Presidents George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, who were both slave-owners. He asked, “Do we want to re-write history?” For the record, Lee said after the Confederate surrender at Appomatox, Va., “I am rejoiced that slavery will be abolished. I believe it will be greatly for the interest of the South.”
Two years ago, Charleston made national headlines by remaining peaceful after a white racist gunned down nine members of Emmanuel AME Church at a bible study. Church leaders and elected officials called for peace, restraint and unity, and the citizenry complied. It was a shining example to the rest of the country.
Cities across the South are taking down statues recognizing the Confederacy, and the potential for clashes like the one in Charlottesville persists. Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg took a pro-active leadership role by stating that he doesn’t want to see statues taken down but wants to see historical context added. He said, “The whole story of our history needs to be told. I intend to be complete and truthful about our history.”
Kudos to Mayor Tecklenburg on this issue! We can’t erase history and should not try to sanitize it. Let people know the sentiments and background of those who were memorialized. John C. Calhoun, whose statue is featured at Marion Square downtown, was a staunch defender of slavery and considered black people to be inferior. The former U.S. Senator and Vice President of the United States once said, “Slavery benefits the master and the slave, alike.” One more fact – Calhoun was a Democrat.
The Ku Klux Klan was founded by Democrats during the Reconstruction era following the Civil War to restore “white man rule” in the South. The hooded Klansmen lynched people, raped women, and burned down houses. They targeted Republicans who assisted with Reconstruction efforts as well as freed slaves. They resented the 22 black Republican members of Congress.
The clash between racist Democrats and Republicans went on for more than 100 years. It was Republicans who led they way in passing the Civil Rights Act of 1964, voting almost unanimously for its passage. President Lyndon B. Johnson had to twist arms to get Democrats to support the legislation, allegedly telling them, “we’ll own the black vote for the next 200 years.”
Let’s preserve the monuments and tell the whole story behind them. We don’t want neo-Nazis, Klansmen, or leftists guerillas invading our magnificent city. In addition to maintaining harmony, we should all work together to make Charleston a beacon of prosperity for all of our citizens who wish to enjoy it!
John Steinberger is the editor-in-chief of LowcountrySource.com. To contact him, email John@LowcountrySource.com.