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South Carolina’s Political Culture Is Tame – Biden’s Win Means Nothing

South Carolina’s Black Leaders Couldn’t Even Stand Up To Steve Bannon

Local black minister bows to pressure from Citadel PR hack - agrees to move his protest far away from Bannon speech (11/10/17)

Local black minister bows to pressure from Citadel PR hack – agrees to move his protest far away from the building housing Bannon’s speech, the media tent, and the cameras and reporters (11/10/17)

I make no pretense of knowledge or understanding of southern and South Carolina culture and politics.

But, I did have one engagement with it and came away baffled by the accommodationist, lame, and anti-conflictual political culture and the failure of leadership in the black community. Let me explain.

I was in Charleston SC in November of 2017. It just so happened that Steve Bannon was speaking at the Citadel there on 11/10/17, so of course I showed up for the protest.

The local black leadership who organized the protest event at The Citadel was extremely deferential to officials from The Citadel, who was sponsoring Bannon’s speech.

Those same leaders, at the request of Citadel officials,  not only actively led their people away from a location where they could be seen and heard by and thereby shame the attendees of Bannon’s speech, but they discouraged any such “aggressive” or “disrespectful” or “rude” behavior (as if protest was an aggressive or rude form of disrespect and as if Bannon deserved respect).

I found the failure of black leadership and their Citadel ass kissing so lame that I actually got into a heated argument with the local black minister who organized the event.  See the below excerpt of that encounter – and you can read my full report and photos on that here).

We also toured lovely cities – like Charleston South Carolina – where architectural beauty and history stood side by side with the ugliest forms of ignorance and hatred imaginable (e.g. Steve Bannon’s speech at The Citadel, where, in the wake of Dylann Roof, he was warmly welcomed by virtually the entire South Carolina political establishment and lots of the young men and women training at The Citadel for US military leadership positions who “whooped and hollered” their support. See if you can read this lede from the local page 1 coverage without vomiting:

Steve Bannon tells Republicans in South Carolina: ‘It’s time for us to get angry again’

When former White House adviser Steve Bannon walked onstage Friday night to address a sold-out crowd at the Citadel Republican Society’s annual Patriot Dinner, he was welcomed like a rock-star.

Cadets whooped and hollered in their woolen dress uniforms. A man wearing a coat and tie pulled out a red towel, waving it high in the air. Even the three Republicans in the room who are hoping to be the next governor of South Carolina tripped over themselves to align their campaigns with Bannon and his populist message that propelled Donald Trump into the White House.

I stood with a disappointingly small group of protesters:

Protest against Steve Bannon's speech at The Citadel (Charleston, SC) (11/10/17)

Emanuel AME Church, Charleston, SC


The Citadel Bannon protesters were manipulated and poorly led by a local black minister – the epitome of what Glen Ford calls “the black misleadership class”.

The minister voluntarily agreed to a protest permit that located the event in a parking lot a few hundred yards away from the building where Bannon spoke and the press tent was located, thereby further marginalizing his own protesters in a classic “protest zone”.

When protesters arrived early – the police had closed all the roads in an approximately 1 square mile perimeter, making it very difficult to even get there – they all converged on what was obviously  the most strategic and effective location – at the barricades directly across the street from the building where Bannon was speaking and the press tent stood.

They began chants and had creative and highly visible signs.  They were in a place to directly confront and shame Bannon and the attendees as they arrived at the event. The press began to take note.

Almost immediately, a PR official from The Citadel and the local black minister arrived.Look at the photo, as the minister tells the Citadel’s PR flack that he’s moving his people away:


The minister directed his protesters to move away from that prime location and relocate 300 yards away at his small stage.

I loudly urged protesters to stay where they were and the minister immediately got in my face – chest to chest – and told me to shut up and get my own protest if I didn’t like his. I got into a shouting match with him and yelled that he was being manipulated and was weak.

Afterwards, a few protesters came over to talk and agreed with me, attributing the problem to a conservative southern political culture that avoids overt conflicts with power and aggressive “rude” tactics.

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