The Diversity Racket

Whenever you hear a politician use the word “diversity” you can usually assume that some kind of dissembling is taking place. The politician hopes you will conclude that he is performing some noble act of inclusiveness. But normally the term “diversity” is used to create a diversion — to make political pandering appear to be “statesmanship.” Let me give you a recent example of this phenomenon.

Mark Sanford, South Carolina’s newly elected Governor, selected The Reverend Joseph Darby, senior pastor of Morris Brown AME Church in Charleston, to deliver the invocation at his recent inauguration. It was quite an honor for Reverend Darby to be chosen from among the hundreds of ministers of all races throughout the State.

But many South Carolinians were disturbed by Sanford’s choice because Darby is the Vice President of the South Carolina chapter of the NAACP and one of the fiercest advocates of the ongoing economic boycott of the State. One state senator’s criticism of Sanford’s selection prompted this response from Reverend Darby; ” The senator is sounding a note that is very much like the notes of Trent Lott.”

A review of events surrounding the boycott will help explain why so many residents are chagrined by Sanford’s choice of Darby.

The South Carolina NAACP demanded that the Confederate flag be removed from the State Capitol dome. The legislature considered the matter and as a result of a compromise that was acceptable to the majority of black legislators, the Confederate flag was removed from the Capitol dome and relocated to a pole behind the Confederate Soldiers’ Monument. This Monument, sponsored by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, had been constructed shortly after the War Between the States and is a memorial for soldiers who lost their lives during the conflict.

Not only did the legislature comply with the NAACP’s request to remove the flag from the Capitol dome, it also approved the creation of an African-American monument on statehouse grounds. This monument contains figures of famous black South Carolinians including Reverend Jesse Jackson.

Most residents, including many blacks, considered the matter resolved. But the NAACP was not satisfied. Next it demanded that the flag not be exhibited anywhere on statehouse grounds. The legislature refused to consider this revised demand so the NAACP implemented an economic boycott of the state.

First the South Carolina NAACP voted to move its annual convention to Georgia. Then it contacted all other organizations with conventions scheduled for the state and asked them to cancel. Entertainers booked for appearances at Myrtle Beach and other resort areas were requested to call off their performances. Professional golfers were asked to boycott the annual Hilton Head golf classic and sponsors of the event were asked to withdraw their sponsorship. Singers, musicians and actors were encouraged to stay away from the Charleston Spoleto Festival. And out-of-state colleges were requested to cancel games their athletic teams had scheduled to be played in South Carolina.

In conducting its boycott, the local NAACP was greatly assisted by the national NAACP. The national chapter urged large corporations to discontinue purchasing supplies from South Carolina businesses. Also, the local and national chapters of the NAACP sent formal petitions to executives of Daimler-Chrysler urging that the company not locate its proposed auto manufacturing plant in South Carolina. At the time of the NAACP’s petitions, Daimler-Chrysler had narrowed its selection to either South Carolina or Georgia. The company eventually selected Georgia.

Eventually the boycott became so aggressive that the NAACP stationed its members at Welcome Centers around the State’s borders to encourage tourists not to spend any money in South Carolina.

A cynical person might suspect ulterior motives for the organization’s continuance of this economic blackmail. Indeed, an ulterior motive is indicated by an examination of the Annual Financial Reports for Charitable Organizations that the NAACP is required to file with the Secretary of State. These reports are available for public inspection and they show that, in the year before the boycott began, the NAACP’s revenue (primarily contributions, the majority from out-of-state) was less than $300,000. However, in 2000, after the boycott began, its revenue increased to almost $1 million! So, the NAACP was able to triple its revenues as a result of the national media coverage of its “Campaign for Dignity.”

With the state NAACP doing everything in its power to impede the economic welfare of South Carolinians, why would a Governor choose to honor one of its leaders? There are two possible explanations. It was either incredible naiveté on Sanford’s part or an attempt to curry favor with the NAACP. When criticized for his decision, Sanford fell back on the “diversity” ploy, saying: “Diverse opinions and diversity are what make our state great. Everyone is entitled to their opinion on a lot of different things.”

Following his inauguration, Governor Sanford held an informal reception for the general public and attendees were treated to the best barbecue from all sections of South Carolina. But the state’s most well-known barbecue entrepreneur, Maurice Bessinger, was not invited to participate. In his decision to exclude Bessinger, the new governor was apparently guided by political correctness. Not only does Maurice Bessinger fly the Confederate flag at his restaurants, he also has strong opinions about his constitutional right to do so.

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