Leonard Doyle, writing for the newspaper, The Independent, offered a British perspective on America in the year 2008 as it stood silently to remember the work of Martin Luther King. he heard a crowd at the Zion Baptist church in Columbia, South Carolina listen to the words of Rev. Charles Jackson who thundered out the message, “Fight the master-slave mentality.” Doyle noted the apparent chasm between whites and blacks in the state which was highlighted by the essentially all white primary for Republican candidates while Democrats will shortly hold their primary that features a large percentage of black voters. Doyle watched a small group of white supremacists jeer at those celebrating the King holiday as they held aloft Confederate flags which have became an issue in the Republican primary due to efforts by Mike Huckabee to emesh himself in its symbol.
Doyle acknowledged the old symbols of separate facilities has disappeared, but new political ones have emerged. The British visitor raised the topic of the Ben Tillman statue which on statehouse grounds. Ben Tillman was a racist governor and later U.S. Senator who urged lynchings and killings of black people. Doyle noted a black worker last week received a $2.5 million settlement from Lockheed for its failure to prevent him being harassed by co-workers.
He was struck by the fact none of the Democratic candidates raised the issue of the Confederate flag. Doyle claimed to be told by African Americans they feared if Obama were to win the election there would be violence in South Carolina. There are people who undoubtedly hold such fears, but there is scant evidence African Americans have any feeling but pride in the fact there is a candidate for the presidency of the United States who represents the most persecuted group in American history.
Mr. Doyle cites the case of Ben Tillman’s racism, but, apparently lacks knowledge of the background of this notorious racist. Ben Tillman was involved in the Populist movement of the 1890s which included forming alliances between blacks and whites. There were even examples of white Populists who protected black farmers against KKK attacks. Tilmman supported the alliance but as the years passed and racism made it impossible to gain victory, he simply went over to the other side because he wanted power. The tragedy is that the Mike Huckabees of this era are not different and will say or do anything to quietly fan the flames of racism.