I realize I’m days and days behind, but since I have only the vaguest notion who Kanye West is I figured I was okay sharing the letter my father just sent to the editor of the Charleston Post Courier about Representative Joe Wilson.
To the Editor:
If Joe Wilson’s outburst were unusual for South Carolina, that would be nice. Unfortunately, our state’s senators and congressmen have given the nation many similar unforgettable moments.
When a black minister rose to give the invocation at the Democratic National Convention in 1936, for example, Senator Cotton Ed Smith made a headline-grabbing show of stomping right out, followed close behind by Charleston Mayor and future South Carolina Senator Burnet Maybank.
A few decades earlier, when President Theodore Roosevelt invited Booker T. Washington to dinner at the White House in 1901, Senator Ben Tillman said, “The action of President Roosevelt in entertaining that n—– will necessitate our killing a thousand n—— in the South before they will learn their place again.” Of course, Pitchfork Ben used the full n—– word.
Further back still, when Senator Charles Sumner made an anti-slavery speech in 1856, two of our courageous congressmen locked him in the Senate chamber and beat him unconscious–one brave Carolinian wielded the cane while the other guarded the door to make sure no one could come to help the victim.
Joe (“I will not be muzzled”) Wilson may have no manners, but he does fit in with centuries of South Carolina tradition.