I attended a protest to tear down the John C. Calhoun monument in Charleston on May 16, 2019. This event was being hosted by “The Independent Media Institute,” and consisted of “artists” explaining how the monument is a symbol of white supremacy to them. Almost two years ago, in August of 2017, I attended a similar protest put on by Antifa in Charleston, which sparked my interest in learning more and writing about Southern heritage.
At the 2017 protest, people were aggressively screaming at locals that wanted to keep the statue, while some other protestors put bags of human fecal matter on the monument. I realized at that time that the arguments being put on by the protestors were weak, lacking logic, and were actually well organized fronts for inciting violence.
When locals learned of the most recent protest, the American Heritage Association and over 50 supporters showed up to Charleston city hall on May 14 to express their desire to keep the Calhoun monument as it is. Despite this, the protestors showed up and were set on lumping in Calhoun with the Confederate symbols and the conspiracy theory of white supremacy. I came prepared this time and was armed with a sign (made by one of my students) that said “SHOW ME WHERE THE STATUE HURT YOU.”
I immediately could tell that both my presence and the sign were triggering the protestors, as many of them began whipping out their camera phones to record me. I listened carefully as one protestor sang “Strange Fruit” by Billie Holiday (a song about lynching), another read a passage from a book about the Hamburg Massacre and Ben Tillman, and another who kept referring to Charleston as “black Charleston.” There were signs in front of the protestors’ display that read “40 YRS. RACISM TURNS ‘SLAVE PORT’ INTO ‘ALL-WHITE’ CITY. People United 2 Live & Let Live” and “GENTRIFICATION IN SOUTH CAROLINA IS JUST LIKE APARTHEID IN SOUTH AFRICA.” Little to no facts about Calhoun were mentioned.
What do these absurd signs mean? When did John Calhoun become a Confederate? Welcome to the reality of the Social Injustice Warriors, where facts and logic are trumped by emotion.
After one protestor, who stood with the microphone for ten minutes chanting about slavery and racism, I yelled out “We all agree with you on the slavery issue, we just do not want to see statues torn down.” At this time, the crowd and cameras began to turn on me and chant things along the lines of “Racist!” and “How dare you disagree with us!”
At this point, I responded by yelling over the protestors that John F. Kennedy headed a commission that ranked Calhoun as one of the top 5 United States Senators of all-time. One protester, who clearly had no response, shouted at me “Don’t you know the original Citadel was built to control local slaves? How dare this city turn it into a hotel!”
I responded by asking how she felt about Nat Turner, Denmark Vesey, and the Haitian Revolution – she lost her mind and began screaming incoherently. When all the media cameras and protestors surrounded me, I dug my heels in and just got louder because I’m tired of seeing Southerners too afraid to stand up for themselves. Next thing I knew, local police surrounded me and escorted me out, citing that the people who had the permit asked the cops to forcibly remove me. When I asked why Antifa protestors are allowed to attack people, yet I can’t hold a sign and speak my mind, the cop simply responded “Get a permit.”
Are we living in America or Nazi Germany? Why is it okay for large groups to publicly accuse people of being privileged racists, yet it’s wrong for one man to peacefully stand up for what he believes in? I will continue to stand up for Southern people, monuments, and history – and I refuse to coddle grown adults that have resorted to labeling inanimate objects, like walls and statues, as racist.
If the people who claim to value diversity and social justice were authentic, then they would value the contribution that ALL Americans add to our history. But the truth is that the cowards running these protests just want to keep us divided for political gain, and are demonizing half the country for their heritage, race, and beliefs.