Cindi’s good idea for Greenwood monument could be applied in a lot of areas

Cindi Scoppe had a good column about the absurd problem that the town of Greenwood faces. The town decided some time back that it wanted to revise the lists of dead from the world wars on local monuments so that they were no longer separated into “white” and “colored.”

But the Legislature’s execrable Heritage Act, which was passed years ago for the now-irrelevant purpose of protecting the unlamented Confederate flag on the State House grounds, forbids the town from doing so. Which is absurd and wrong on several levels.

And unfortunately, Speaker Jay Lucas’ Shermanesque statement that while he is speaker, no more exceptions will be made to the Act, period, means there’s no hope for what the town wants to do. (I can appreciate Lucas’ pragmatic desire, once the good work of lowering the flag was done, to get onto other issues without distractions, but this is a particularly unfortunate effect of his declaration.)

Anyway, I like Cindi’s solution:

We should all hope that once cooler heads prevail, the speaker will walk back his Shermanesque statement, and the Legislature will give the American Legion and the city of Greenwood control over their own property — and give all local governments and private entities control over their property as well, for that matter.

If that doesn’t happen, there’s a better solution than a lawsuit: The folks in Greenwood should take up a collection for a new sign, to erect next to the monument, that says: “These lists of Americans who gave their lives for our nation remain segregated in the 21st century because the S.C. General Assembly either opposes integration or refuses to let local governments make their own decisions or both.”

That idea could be applied in a lot of situations where the Legislative State ties the hands of local governments. For instance, signs could be posted at Richland County polling places saying, “You are waiting in such long lines because the Legislature, in its ‘wisdom,’ gives control of the voting process to the local legislative delegation.”

Given the many ways the Legislature reaches down to meddle in local affairs, the possibilities for applying this idea are practically endless…


15 thoughts on “Cindi’s good idea for Greenwood monument could be applied in a lot of areas

  1. Brad Warthen Post author

    By the way, as Cindi notes, what Greenwood wants to do with the best intentions is nevertheless debatable. Both black and white historians interviewed about it by the AP “were universal in their opposition to replacing the segregated plaques.” I suppose their objection was to whitewashing history — after all, the military WAS segregated during those conflicts. Why hide the fact?

    But that misses the point. And the point is this: It’s Greenwood’s decision to make, not the state Legislature’s…

    1. Norm Ivey

      I thought I read that they were still going to preserve the current plaques in a museum setting or some sort. They just wanted the public monument to treat the sacrifices of black and white the same.

  2. Lynn Teague

    I love your idea about the signs. So many possibilities! I started to make a list, but decided that was getting out of hand quickly.

  3. Bryan Caskey

    “You are driving on this dilapidated old road because the Legislature, in its ‘wisdom,’ is either in favor of bad roads or is unwilling to properly budget for good roads.”

  4. Karen Pearson

    Perhaps black historians want them to remain separate to ensure that future generations remember that black people as well as white people fought and died in those wars. Too many of us, brought up on John Wayne movies tend to think of our war heroes as exclusively Caucasian (of Western European descent).

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Good point. If you put them together, a lot of people would picture them as all white, just as a sort of default.

      In fact, even a person who is familiar with the history of segregation before 1948 might be surprised to learn how many black soldiers died in battle, since we know they were so often relegated tp support services — stewards and cooks on Navy ships, truck drivers in the Army (the famous and heroic Red Ball Express).

      Most of us have heard of the Buffalo Soldiers and the Tuskegee Airmen, but less is known about such units as the 761st Tank Battalion and the 369th Infantry Regiment.

      And of course, until the movie “Glory” came out, few people were aware of the role black troops played in fighting for their freedom in the Civil War…

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        And even I can remember a time, long after 1948, when it seemed that stewards on Navy ships in the Atlantic were mostly black, while those on ships in the Pacific were Filipino…

        Note that I said “seemed.” That was just a vague impression based on limited experience, mind you. As a dependent, I was an occasional visitor to wardrooms, having no more access or exposure to Navy ships than most kids do to their fathers’ workplaces…

    2. JesseS

      Eh, the people of Greenwood at least deserve the option of appending the monument. It isn’t fair putting them in a catch-22 of “they’re racist, look what they endorse” and “they’re racist, look what they are trying to hide”.

      1. Karen Pearson

        I think they are trying to do what’s right. I think the historians want to preserve historical reality on both sides. There’s a lot to be said for both ways of looking at the situation.

        1. Karen Pearson

          As Ms. Grammar Person I do believe that should read “historians on both sides want to preserve historical reality.”

  5. Keith

    I love it! It’s brilliant! And while the services were segregated, the monument serves to honor those who served from Greenwood. The fact that the services were segregated need not be reflected with the names separated by race. One must ask, is the law even legal?

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