NAACP Condemns ACC

by Ron Aiken,
May 22nd

Let me make one thing clear from the beginning: I detest the Confederate Battle Flag that flies on the State House grounds for ethical and economic reasons. I believe that, like many flags from the past, it belongs in a museum, not in a place of prominence. After all, South Carolinians have participated in at least 10 wars, by my unofficial count (Revolutionary War, Civil War, War of 1812, Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam, Gulf War I and Gulf War II, which includes Iraq and Afghanistan), and to be so hung up about just one of them — the one that brought only ruin to the state and took place almost 150 years ago, no less — makes no sense to me in the 21st Century and represents all that’s wrong with the state, not what’s right about it.

Also, I support the NAACP’s position that the flag should be retired from active service and given the rest it deserves. That being said, however, the victory that was won when the flag was removed from flying in a position of sovereignty to a memorial was one that should not be lessened or denigrated. All of South Carolina’s black legislators save one, who abstained, voted for the flag compromise — something that should have been enough for the NAACP.

But no. Flying in the face of the compromise and deflating the enormous victory that removed it from atop the capitol, the NAACP issued its boycott of the state, one that it somehow was able to get the weak-kneed NCAA to adhere to, even though I personally doubt its legality if the state should ever decide to sue the NCAA — to me, it’s cruel and unusual punishment to deny NCAA championship events to South Carolina venues simply because one special interest group refuses to acknowledge a compromise that state leaders, elected by the people, voted on. But I digress.

Kudos to the ACC for agreeing to hold a championship event in Myrtle Beach despite the NAACP. And shame on the NAACP for condemning the ACC and continuing to hurt South Carolinians and their businesses for something only the state legislature can change, not them. Here’s my main point: The boycott has failed as a tactic. It’s been 10 years, and the boycott has done nothing whatsoever to gain traction for removing the flag from the capitol grounds entirely. Nothing. In short, it’s a failed strategy, and only idiots continue with failed strategies once they’ve been proven as such. Whether it’s in sports or in the military or in the political arena, strategies that fail are tossed out the window as soon as they are exposed, not blindly adhered to for 10 years and counting.

My message to the NAACP is straightforward: I sympathize with your cause, but if you’re really serious about removing the flag then you need to acknowledge that the boycott hasn’t worked and has, in fact, only hurt blacks in this state. It’s past time to work toward putting all your efforts into lobbying legislators, the only people on the entire planet in a position to do something about it. Period. To expect venues whose doors are shuttered come NCAA tournament times year after cruel year to do the lobbying for you is dangerously incompetent thinking and absolutely counterproductive to your cause. People don’t get mad at the flag, they get mad at you for not recognizing the compromise.

Shame on the NCAA for allowing discriminatory scheduling policies, and shame on the NAACP for propagating arguably the least-effective protest measure ever undertaken in the history of these United States. People often say that, like unions, the NAACP has outlived its original usefulness. I don’t agree with that, but every year it becomes harder and harder to defend an organization that has done nothing since 1999 but harm the state with its own ineffective and discriminatory policies, the same sort of blind policies the organization was set out to discredit in the first place. You just don’t win a battle against discrimination by being discriminatory yourself.

Think about the positive press the NAACP would get if it went to the NCAA and asked to remove the boycott and announced that instead it would turn its attention to a new front in the ongoing battle against symbols of oppression — lobbying legislators. It’s past time to admit the boycott has been an utter failure and that perpetuating it only hurts those citizens you’re purporting to serve. If the NAACP can be humble enough reverse course and change strategy to one that, I don’t know, might actually have a chance in hell of working, just imagine the universal goodwill that would follow.

But you and I both know that’s not going to happen, and in this battle over who can be the most stubborn — the legislature or the NAACP — not only does no one win, but everybody loses. It’s time as a state we got past that mentality, and it’s going to take truly progressive thinking and action to do so, traits that neither group has demonstrated much of over the past 10 years.

Copyright © 2009, Portico Publications

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