Surging sea of rage (not): The ‘Reinstate Darla Moore’ rally

Well, that was a bust. As I Tweeted when I arrived at the “Reinstate Darla Moore” rally at the State House on this sunny day:

Brad Warthen @BradWarthen
Brad Warthen

The big protest over Darla Moore being unceremoniously dumped by Nikki Haley looks like a bit of a bust so far. They DID say noon, right?

As I said again at 12:43, it was still a bust. Which is a shame. Because Nikki Haley insulted all of the 30,000 or so students on the Columbia campus alone with her petty patronage move — not to mention the way she dissed the other 4 million of us who have a right to expect a governor to exercise some modicum of responsible stewardship at our most important state institutions. Instead of, you know, what she did.

Old New Left Activist Tom Turnipseed grumbled about these kids today who don’t know how to stage a protest: They think they do something with social media, and it’s done, he says. Well, yes — the “We Support Darla Moore” Facebook page has attracted 4,703 people who probably think they’ve made a statement by “liking” it.

But that doesn’t mean that Martha Susan Morris, the 22-year-old economic and poli sci senior who started the “Students for the Reinstatement of Miss Darla Moore” FB page, lacks seriousness in her convictions.

After all, she showed up, and spoke at the rally — once it finally got around to getting started. And she understood why she should be there, and why thousands of others should have been there with her:

Gov. Haley cited that her main reason for replacing Mrs. Moore with Mr. Cofield was the fact that Mr. Cofield’s vision was more clearly aligned with her own.

Martha Susan Morris

And we the students ask ‘What vision?’ What vision is not aligning with Gov. Haley…?… Mrs. Moore’s vision for years has been one of high expectations, increased educational funding, and increased standards for universities, research and development in our state…. and we could not be more grateful to her…

Our university is on the upswing, and we want her to be a part of it. She’s been an amazing benefactor… since she was appointed to the board in 1999…

Amen to that, Martha Susan. She said afterward that she started the FB page at 4 a.m. after having hearing about Ms. Moore being dumped. When she next looked at the page later that morning, there were 400 fans. There are now 2,495.

Too bad more of them didn’t show up. Because although we know Nikki Haley loves her some Facebook, she’d have been a tad more impressed to look out her window and see some folks show up to protest her action. Not that she’d have changed her mind, but it would have made an impression.

One of the people I chatted with before leaving was Candace Romero, communications director of the South Carolina House Democratic Caucus, who observed how much of the crowd were media types, and she complained that that there was no media turnout like that for the “Rally for a Moral Budget” back on March 12. (I asked her, and her Senate counterpart Phil Bailey, whether they were in any way involved in this rally. No, and no. They had just dropped by. That’s the answer I got from all the usual suspect-types I found.)

Well. As one who didn’t even thinking about going downtown on a Saturday for that particular quixotic gesture, I must accept service. But I will add that good-government-type rallies tend not to draw multitudes. Have it about something people get passionate about,  such as the Confederate flag, and you can get a crowd (5,000 or so if it’s pro, as many as 60,000 if it’s anti).

Which is a shame. Today’s rally was for good government — or at least, against grossly irresponsible government. (I enjoyed hearing  a speaker who followed Martha Susan say he and his fellow protesters were there to “change the usual business of government.” You know, what Nikki Haley is always saying she wants to do — right before she does something as old-line political Business-As-Usual as dumping a highly respected board member in favor of someone whose only known qualification is having contributed to her campaign.)

But it was a bust.

Oh, one more thing — it was announced, late in the rally, that Darla Moore herself will address students “in a town-hall meeting at 12:15 p.m. Thursday, March 24, in the Russell House.”

I wonder whether that will be better-attended.

15 thoughts on “Surging sea of rage (not): The ‘Reinstate Darla Moore’ rally

  1. Brad

    Key to the photos in the gallery:

    1. The overview: This is how many people were there at 12:22. And that was pretty much the peak during the time I was there.
    2. Hey, the caption showed up on this one! That doesn’t usually happen.
    3. There was a high probability that if you showed up, you’d be interviewed. Hey, even I got interviewed — by Wesley Donehue’s “Process Story.”
    4. Speaking of interviews — Martha Susan was poised with the press. Hey, she was being interviewed by two people who still have jobs with major state newspapers — at the same time! Not many can say that these days.
    5. Maybe it will look like more people from this angle — nope. I shot this as I was leaving, at 1:05 p.m.
    6. But the rally was supposed to last until 2. So, to be entirely fair, I drove past while I was running errands at 1:56, in case a huge multitude showed up late. Nope.

    Oh, and sorry about the repetition. I haven’t figured out how to keep pictures that I’m playing bigger above out of the thumbnail gallery at the bottom. As Burl noted back here, there are problems with the gallery function on WordPress. At least, there are with the theme that he and I use. Which is otherwise a good theme…

  2. Andrew Williams

    This may be a statement that people feel there are more causes to “protest” in this state, like joblessness, hunger, school funding, and so forth. Maybe folks decided to stay at work or at their volunteer postions, making a difference the proper way, as Ms. Moore does every day in any number of ways. The choice of the Governor to place whom she wants where gubernatorial appointments are concerned, is simply her right. Ms. Moore is a fine lady, that will continue her good works for USC without a ceremonial job title ( she has a building already.) I, for one, am glad that it was poorly attended. It says a lot about the University community NOT to particiapate in such nonsense and media-made hysteria, en masse. ***Well-written and covered as usual, Brad. I so enjoy your work, as you are aware, ***

  3. Pat

    A week day is kind of hard, don’t you think? You want to be there when the legislature is in session but you have class and work…
    They can email elected officials. Actual correspondence does get attention. I expect Ms. Moore’s address will be well attended.

  4. Michael Rodgers


    Your post has three elements in it, the curmudgeon, the editorialist, and the reporter.

    The reporter got and told the story, which is Martha Susan Morris and how interested the usual suspect types were in what resonance what she was doing might have. The editorialist explained how the story fits in with his larger point of advocacy, which is the promotion of less-bad government. I could have done without the curmudgeon.

    See for comparison, Generation Q by Tom Friedman.



  5. Brad

    Someone explain “grind” to young Steven. (And is it a 70s word, or an 80s word?)

    Pat, I don’t know about that. Is it easier to get college students out at lunchtime on a weekday, less than two blocks from their campus, or on a weekend, when many of them are away from campus? I don’t know.

    And Michael, about the curmudgeon thing — I just wouldn’t have been honest if I hadn’t expressed my disappointment at the turnout, after all I’d heard in advance about how stirred up many students were…

  6. Steven Davis

    I’m a product of the 80’s… it’s not a word I’m familiar with. I was being kind with the 70’s, I was really thinking it was more something I’d hear on Dobie Gillis.

  7. Pat

    Well, I read Generation Q and that probably sums up the way today’s young adults interact – not via 60’s sit-ins. Thanks for sharing, Michael. Today, though, they showed up for the real deal.

  8. Seth

    Obviously you didn’t go to the website, which specifically asked that students speak out about the rally on Facebook & Twitter if they couldn’t show up.

    And yeah, dunno if you’ve talked to a college student these days, but it’s difficult to get them to do anything that doesn’t involve free beer.

    You must have missed the write-ups in the Huffington Post, and the Washington Post – about the rally? Those write-ups came after the Rally………

    Which rally have you been to recently that was written up on by HuffPo/WaPo?

    Or maybe you forgot to report in an “update” that Ms. Darla Moore gave $5 million the day after the rally? I’m sure that she was chompin’ at the bit to to do that – considering the fact that she had just got booted off the BoT.


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