McConnell: let's play a round of "find the racism"

September 16, 2010, 8:55 am

Lots of discussion of these images of South Carolina Senate President Glenn McConnell dressed as a Confederate Navy officer posing with black people dressed “in antebellum attire.” Apparently the black man and woman are “members of a Gullah-Geechee cultural group, which travels around bringing to life the Lowcountry African-American experience during the mid-1800s, including their dress, music and singing.” They were paid for their appearance.

It’s a weird picture. Since there are no actual historians here, and certainly none with an interest in the Civil War or the politics of memory, I’ll muse as follows:

(i) watching members of a Gullah preservation group would probably be pretty interesting;
(ii) it wouldn’t make the gathering less creepy if they were absent;
(iii) this makes me think that whatever badness there is here is present in a powerful white guy dressing up like a Confederate officer, rather than in the addition of Frank and Sharon Murray, the Gullah representatives;
(iv) but it’s more salient or more easily noticed when the addition of actual black people reminds us of what the Confederate Navy was for;
(v) not knowing much about Glenn McConnell except for his obsession with things Confederate, I can imagine– imagine! not endorse as true!– that he kind of lost track of all of these nuances a while back and just decided it would be neat to have some Gullah culture at the event.

As always, it’s important to remember that Ari is the real racist.

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