Recently, as a few people may have noticed, there was a bit of controversy surrounding the removal of the Confederate flag from outside of the South Carolina state capital building. In response to the state senate’s vote the Ku Klux Klan demanded and received a rally on the Columbia court house steps.
This was something that I never expected to see in my lifetime. When I consider the Ku Klux Klan, I think of some bygone era, cast in sepia tone, just after the Civil War with a group of men come swooping in on horseback to rape, kill, and burn- or maybe I’m just remembering Birth of a Nation. So, being a naturally curious person, I ambled off to the rally to see what I could see and while there I noticed several things:
1. There Was Counter “Black Power” Rally That No One Went To: I went to this one first, mistaking it for the Klan rally. The New Black Panther Party had sauntered in from New York and Los Angeles to protest the other protest. It looked well organized. A group of people stood up on the courthouse steps, each taking their turn yelling into a microphone. It was relatively peaceful, due mostly to the fact that they barely had anyone listening to them. Even the majority of their own group, had abandoned the Black Power rally to go yell at the Klan.
The counter-protest’s main message, as usual, was that black people, “must offer renewed and vigorous resistance to generations of oppression.” I walked away as a young lady, with a strong Brooklyn accent, was describing how the song Amazing Grace was one of these tools of oppression.
2. The Klan Seem to Have No Reason for Being There: Ostensibly they were there to protest the removal of the Confederate flag, but you wouldn’t know that from their actions. First they gave no speech or declaration of intent, which is standard at a rally. They hadn’t even bothered to bring a megaphone. All they really did was march about waving Confederate and American Nazi flags, with one man holding up a sign promoting free speech.
|That will change some hearts and minds.|
This was not so much a Klan rally as a Klan/Aryan Nation rally. There were, off and on, about 30 members there- not counting the children. No one was hooded, granted it was over 100 degrees, but I saw plenty of AB and Aryan Nation patches on jackets and a few were wearing the pseudo-bund outfits of the American Nazi Party. But this is hardly surprising as these groups tend to intermingle, despite being officially separate.
As I’m sure you’ve all figured out, their real purpose there was just to agitate. The Confederate flag issue being a pretext for them to flash their asses. They paraded about here and there, sporadically yelling “White Power” in an uncoordinated manner (to which “Black Power” was screamed back) and screech obscenities at the crowd, trying to get them riled up enough to crash the police barriers surrounding the protest.
They then produced the flag of Israel, stomped on it, spit on it, and tore it to pieces- all for reasons which were beyond me. This being South Carolina, I assume most of the crowd had no idea which country the flag was representing, and if they had, quite a few of them (including the New Black Panther Party) might have joined in. Had they actually wanted to start something, they should have done it to one of those red, green, and black pan-African flags which were being waved about by the crowd. That would have created quite a stir. But they proudly stuck to their delusions that America is secretly controlled by an Illuminati of Jewish bankers, and thus any impact was lost.
3. The Crowd Quickly Became Much More Interesting to Watch: Having arrived 15 minutes late, I decided to stay for the rest of the rally. The crowd came and went in waves. Spectators would mosey up, scream, holler, and threaten, then leave after a few minutes. Very few people stayed for the entire thing. Well again, it was over a 100 degrees that day.
The feeling I gathered from the crowd was that everyone wanted something to happen, but no one was willing to be the goat and start it. No one jumped the police barricade, no one threw anything at another group. It was simply an exercise in taunting, where neither party could fully hear what the other side was saying. Both wanted the other side to attack first, knowing that that group would get the hammer smashed down on them faster than you could say “Jack Robinson”, but neither side took the bait.
While the screaming continued, I decided to walk around and look at the crowd. I quickly discovered that the emergence of these two fringe groups brought a lot of other fringe groups out of the woodwork, all using the spectacle to pimp their politics.
A lot of these alternative agenda types lacked staying power. Many of them flitted in and out of the crowd like mayflies. Perhaps they had dreams of spell-blinding those assembled with their mystical oratory, and magically melding them into a force that would follow them- if they did, they had been watching too many movies, because in the real world that never happens.
First I bumped into what must be South Carolina’s only two Communists, who came out protesting in sweaty t-shirts and berets. They handed me a leaflet entitled, “Why Ignoring the Klan Sends the Wrong Message”, which called for solidarity in protesting against the Klan (which is what everyone there was doing, so handing it out was a waste of time) and “other forces of economic oppression”- You can fill in the blank on what was meant by that. This was an obvious attempt to gather support for their own cause, by uniting people against a perceived common enemy (kind of like how the Nazis gained power). They were loud for half a minute, then quieted down, until they finally slunk off after 10 minutes. They just don’t make Commies out of the same steel as they used to.
One young guy, hoisting the South Carolina State Flag, kept trying to lead the crowd in prayer.
“This is the third time in a month that the people of South Carolina have come together in prayer.” He yelled.
|All of this fittingly occurred around the Strom |
I hadn’t heard of the first two, and this certainly wasn’t a third. He started screeching The Lord’s Prayer but stopped after three lines, when no one else joined in. He looked about, desperate for attention. The crowd wasn’t just uninterested in his antics, they were actively ignoring him. Even in the heat, I could feel cold shoulders spring up about him. As far as they were concerned, he could peddle his crap elsewhere. He moved to a different part of the crowd and tried again. And then again, and a third time. No one wanted to hear it. Probably because, this being South Carolina, every other meeting has some joker trying to start a prayer circle! He was a dime, a dozen.
A passing woman, tarted up in coke-bottle glasses and a drab dress, handed me a free newspaper. It was the Freedom Socialist: The Voice of Revolutionary Feminism- an outfit run out of Seattle, Washington. It was supposed to cost $1 (with a “solidarity price” of $2, whatever that means), but she was obviously having difficulty giving the damn things away, since I sure as Hell don’t look like a woman, revolutionary or no.
A few more people showed up, blasting a beat from their Mp3 player over powerful speakers. They yelled over the speakers that they were here to “dance for justice.” A few young people joined in, gyrating like spastics. But once again the Klan hogged all the attention and the justice dancers left downhearted.
4. The Police Were the Only Competent Group There: I read several news articles about the rally with headlines like, “KKK, Black Panther Party Clash Over Confederate Flag” and “KKK Faces Off With New Black Panther Party in Heated Competing Rallies.” These are much more dramatic than what occurred. The groups never clashed. Their rallies were on opposite sides of a very large building. And if they were competing by sheer numbers, then the Klan won hands down- not that it was full of people supporting them.
And the reason the rally didn’t get out of hand is because the police were on the ball. Nothing got past them. Every time things were about to get out of hand with the protesters, the cops were on them like white on rice. I couldn’t believe how fast they moved.
There was one incident near me, where a skinhead, in suspenders and Doc Martens, rushed right in the middle of some New Black Panthers waving a Confederate flag and yelling “White power.” We all know what could have happened. Out of nowhere in jumped the police and, in less than half a minute, shut the whole thing down. There were multiple accounts of this all through the rally.
And Then They Left- When the hour was up, the police surrounded them and led them away. The Klu-Kluxers marched off, leaving us to ponder… what? Not much. There was no real point, just an exercise in lung power. No one was happy on either side. I doubt anyone had been convinced to change their opinion. Nothing constructive occurred. It was a show for the sake of a show. Shock for shock’s sake. The only thing I got out of it was a sunburn from the hour I spent watching the demonstration.
|Damn you Racism!|