Our own Phillip Bush wrote these wise words on Facebook today:
Petitions through moveon.org are well-meaning, but ineffective at best and counterproductive at worst: I can tell you anything transmitted to SC legislators via moveon.org will automatically get them to dig in their heels the other way. Calling and writing legislators directly is better, and I like my friend Brad Warthen‘s idea best of all. I’m in, how about you?
Phillip is absolutely right. As I’ve written what seems like a thousand times — petitions from moveon.org, boycotts by the NAACP, federal lawsuits and related kinds of pressure are useless at best, and counterproductive at worst. The white Republicans who control the Legislature (which controls whether the flag flies), and for that matter the black and white Democrats who need to know that there’s a realistic chance if they push the issue forward, need to see that a very broad base of South Carolinians are the ones who are ready and willing to “move on.”
In response to Phillip, Kathryn noted that there’s a rally tomorrow at 6 p.m. at the State House.
Yes, there is. I see that my wife and my daughter-in-law and quite a few friends have already said they plan to be there. That’s wonderful. But I’m a little worried, since the first person I heard about this from was my friend Walid Hakim.
I’m VERY curious to know who’s going to be up on the podium at this event, and details are scarce on the Facebook page. If this is seen as an Occupy Columbia/SC Progressive Network deal, we’re back to the moveon.org problem that Phillip cites. If Walid and Brett Bursey are the only ones up there speaking, it’s not going to accomplish anything. We need to see mainstream people prominently in such an event, like the business and religious leaders who stood up in 2000.
I see that as doable. I don’t know if it’s doable by Saturday night.
I’m very encouraged by the friends I see planning to go. Lots of solid, mainstream South Carolinians. But again, who’s going to be in the news photos from this event? Who’s going to be quoted? That is essential. I don’t want an important event such as this to be something that people who don’t want to act feel like they have an excuse to wave off.
We need to see the kind of prominent advocacy we saw in 2000. We need to see something like the wide array of dignitaries who marched along with Joe Riley on his walk from Charleston. We need religious leaders, and not just the Neal Joneses of the world — we need my own bishop, and people like Dick Lincoln, pastor of Shandon Baptist, who stepped forward when his congregant David Beasley was trying to lead on the issue.
We need leaders from the state Chamber of Commerce. We need presidents of universities. We need party leaders from BOTH parties (which is a very tough thing with one of the parties).
And we need them on the podium, speaking.
I’m kind of doubting anything like that can be arranged by Saturday. There’s so little time. But if any such people are reading this, please come out on Saturday.
Maybe there’s only enough time for ordinary, decent South Carolinians to come out and stand together and take comfort from each others’ company in this terrible time. That’s something, and its worthwhile.
But I want more. I want action. I want a sea change. And I want it come from the very heart of the SC electorate, and from our state’s leadership as well.
We need that.