Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Monument in South Carolina Threatened

SCDOT moves to bulldoze Confederate Monument and Bessinger BBQ
March 4th, 2012
Kyle Rogers

South Carolina Bureaucrats are trying to use traffic congestion as an excuse to bulldoze a Confederate memorial and a Maurice Bessinger BBQ in the city of Orangeburg in Orangeburg County. Both Confederate monuments, as well as the Maurice Bessinger BBQ chain, have been under constant attack by the NAACP in South Carolina for the past twenty years.

It appears to be no coincidence that this is taking place in Orangeburg County. The county is 61% black and a center of black political power in the state. The city of Orangeburg is 75% black.

The Bessinger BBQ and the Confederate monument are located at John C. Calhoun Drive and Russell Street on the outskirts of Orangeburg. The monument is on land originally owned by Bessinger who deeded the land to the Sons of Confederate Veterans. SCDOT Program Manager Kevin Gantt said that over a three-year period, from 2004 to 2007, the intersection saw about 30 rear-end collisions. However, there are probably hundreds or even thousands of worst intersections in the state.

I lived in James Island near the corner or Camp and Folly for almost three years. There are rear-end collisions daily at this intersection. I personally witnessed rear-end collisions on a regular basis. It was an everyday routine occurrence to see traffic partially blocked because a rear-end collision had just occurred. The intersection were the James Island connecter meets Folly Road was almost just as bad.

Given the campaign against Confederate Monuments and Bessinger restaurants, this SCDOT project appears to be a surgical strike. Bessinger was the target of a massive state-wide campaign by the NAACP, the Nation of Islam, and other Black Power groups to pressure grocery stores to stop selling his BBQ sauce. They complained about a tiny Confederate flag on the label. Eventually almost all grocery stores in the state stopped carrying the iconic BBQ sauce. Bessinger's BBQ chain remains a target of routine vitriol by these groups.

The NAACP has also been waging a twenty year battle to get the Confederate monument removed from the Statehouse grounds. Eleven years ago, there was a “compromise” in which the NAACP was allowed to design a slavery monument on the grounds. However, the NAACP did not cease their campaign. They have an annual big budget parade and rally each January to protest the Confederate Soldier monument. During at least two of these rallies, a statue of George Washington was also covered up by the NAACP.

The media in SC typically downplays the rhetoric by saying the NAACP only wants the flag removed from the monument. However, I have personally witnessed two of these rallies and heard speakers call for the removal of the entire statue.

Efforts to cleans South Carolina of it's Confederate history have become particularly nasty. In October 2010, Summerville city council member Aaron Brown, who is black, led an all black crowd in protesting a private residence of a lone white female cancer patient living in a black neighborhood. The resident has a Confederate flag among other yard decorations. Racial slurs and threats were hurled at the resident and her supporters during the protest.

Critics say that the intersection only needs to add a stoplight and the destruction of the two properties is unjustifiable.

Right of way acquisition is scheduled to begin in late spring of 2012 and construction in 2013.

The SCDOT is only accepting comments on the project until March 9th. Conveniently, the South Carolina media has not covered this story so there is not very much time left.

Comments on the project may be submitted to: Mr. Kevin Gantt, S.C. Department of Transportation, P.O. Box 191, Columbia, S.C. 29202-0191, by email to ganttkl@scdot.org or by fax to 803-737-1510. Comments should include a name, mailing address and phone number.