Abolishing America (contd.): Phase Two in South Carolina – Charleston`s Slavery Museum

When South Carolina lawmakers voted
last year to remove the Confederate Battle Flag over the
state capitol in what then was termed a
“compromise,” there may have been some who really believed
it would help pacify the racial-cultural revolution the
attack on the flag represented. If that`s what they
thought, they were wrong, because Phase Two of the
revolution in South Carolina is now about to kick off.

Phase Two consists of the construction
of at least one and probably two museums centering on
slavery and wallowing in the factoid that Charleston was
the main
port of entry
for African slaves imported into North
America. As Joseph
Riley, Jr
., the mayor of Charleston and the main
brain behind the museum project, describes them, it`s
clear the museums are not for teaching real history but
for dethroning
the past
of one people and enthroning the myths
of another.

Museum Number One will be a renovated “Slave
Mart” in Charleston, where tourists, children and
those dumb enough to fall for it will be drilled in the
racial myth the project will preach. But it`s Museum
Number Two that`s the Sherman Tank of the new assault.

Museum Number Two will be a $30 million palace of
racial guilt and racial reconstruction, “a story
museum that would talk about this tragic human
practice” and “go beyond emancipation to about 1900,
covering the period of Jim Crow in the South,” says
the mayor. The Rev.
Joseph Darby
, a black pastor who`s also pushing
the project, is even more blunt about what it`s
supposed to accomplish.

“This is South Carolina,” the reverend growls.
“We have people here who think Appomattox was a
cease-fire, that the Civil War wasn`t fought about
slavery and that good treatment of slaves was the rule
rather than the exception.” The point of the museum,
in the reverend`s mind, is to brainwash its visitors
and hammer home all the mythologies and outright
historical whoppers demonizing the white South that he
and the mayor and their cronies can concoct.

One such whopper apparently concerns the slave revolt
planned in 1822 by ex-slave Denmark
, whom the New
York Times
in reporting
the museum story says “was allegedly plotting a mass
murder of whites. Some doubt that Vesey`s plan was as
bloody as it was then portrayed, among them Mayor
Riley.” The story also sports a caption on a picture
of Vesey that tells us he was “hanged for supposedly
plotting a slave revolt.”

Charleston can have its museum of slavery if it
wants, but it really ought not to let the mayor (or the New York Times) have anything to do with planning its contents. The
most recent work on Vesey, by historian David Robertson,
by Knopf in 1999, makes perfectly clear what Vesey was
plotting—to murder every white man, woman and child in
the city of Charleston. The plot was betrayed to
authorities by a black slave, and Vesey and 34 other
conspirators were hanged. Mayor Riley really ought to
give Mr. Robertson`s book,
which is mainly sympathetic to Vesey, a read before he
gets his hands on the museum.

But if the mayor and the preacher aren`t enough to
wipe out the real history of the city, there`s also
the hired consultant from New York, Richard Rabinowitz,
who is helping Charleston officials plan the museum.
We`re never told what Mr. Rabinowitz`s expertise in
history is, but then it ought to be clear by now that
knowing anything about the real past is not a
qualification for the job. Mr. Rabinowitz assures the Times that the museum will “tell an untold story that has to be
brought to the surface. It`s a fundamental fact we
have to come to grips with.” We`re never told who
“we” is either, let alone why “we” must “come
to grips” with anything.

What the mayor, the reverend, the New York consultant
and a small army of others are planning is simply a
monument that will retell the history of Charleston in
terms of the new racial myth being imposed on the state,
the region and the nation—that the white South was a
kind of pre-industrial concentration camp where blacks
were raped, tortured, and murdered routinely. The new
myth undermines and discredits any effort by whites,
Southerners or not, to retain pride in their own past
and identity and smothers any political resistance to
the new racial assault on them before it can draw

What the museum project tells us also is that the
“compromise” that removed the Battle Flag from the
state capitol was really no compromise at all but merely
the signal for the renewal of war. Now that those waging
the war have revealed their real goals, maybe those who
fell for the “compromise” line will tumble to the


August 20,