My dad likes to say that if it was announced that they were forming a new Confederate army, it would take less than a week to get a million men to sign up. David Firestone’s blog post at the New York Times about neo-Confederate views in the south suggests he’s right. But the key is that those views are becoming more and more mainstream.
A particularly relevant case started about 14 years ago, when Maurice Bessinger, owner of a chain of South Carolina barbecue restaurants called Maurice’s Piggie Park, began distributing pro-slavery tracts in his stores. One of the tracts, called the “Biblical View of Slavery,” said the practice wasn’t really so bad, because it was permitted in the Bible. It argued that many black slaves in the South “blessed the Lord” for their condition, because it was better than their life in Africa.When the tract was discovered, Mr. Bessinger was denounced and his restaurants boycotted. Many retail stores pulled his distinctive (to be kind) yellow mustardy barbecue sauce from their shelves.
But one prominent South Carolinian decided to stand up for Mr. Bessinger. Glenn McConnell, then a state senator from Charleston, stocked the sauce in his Confederate “art gallery,” which was loaded with secessionist flags and uniforms, as well as toilet paper bearing the image of Union Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman. When a local power utility banned its trucks from the parking lots of Piggie Park, Mr. McConnell threatened a legislative vendetta against the company.
Mr. Bessinger died in February. Mr. McConnell is now the lieutenant governor of South Carolina.