South Carolina editorial roundup: Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021


(Columbia) The State

Aug. 20

Can Charleston or any city overcome its history to be anti-racist?

Among the artifacts housed at the National Museum of African American History & Culture in Washington, D.C., is a poster, known as a broadside, advertising the auction of enslaved persons at the Charleston courthouse.

The people listed on the document range in age from a 1-month-old infant to a 70-year-old man named Old Peter.

Handwritten notations on the poster include the words healthy, very fine, breeding, and mostly white.

Charleston's role in the slave trade - an estimated 40% of the enslaved Africans brought to the continent arrived in the city's port - is well documented.

Some 155 years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, the city even issued an apology for the part it played.

But a belated apology would not erase the stain of slavery or the devastation it had wrought for centuries.

So, how does a city make amends for such atrocities? How does it redeem itself?

In Charleston, spurred by protestors seeking real change, city leaders created the Special Commission on Equity, Inclusion and Racial Conciliation in 2020.

Now, commissions and advisory councils are not uncommon in government, but this one had a mission more far reaching, more ambitious than most.

According to the commission's report on its findings, "The recommendations in this report are initial steps that can be taken to achieve the stated purpose of the Commission to dismantle systemic racism and rebuilding Charleston as an actively anti-racist government."

The report adds, "We can't find one example of a system where there are no racial disparities in outcomes: Health, Education, Criminal Justice, Housing, and so on. Baked into the creation and ongoing policies of our government, media, and other institutions, racism operates at individual, institutional, and structural levels and is therefore present in every system we examine."

Hard truths, spoken plainly.

From there, the document lays out 125 recommendations, possible ways to righting some of those wrongs.

Among the recommendations, for instance, is addressing structural inequities in recruitment, hiring and promotion of city employees, decreasing pay disparities for those employees and "to make the City of Charleston a racially equitable working place."

How would it do that?

The plan lays out a series of actions such as developing new city ordinances and processes for things such as auditing the demographical data of hiring and promotion and increasing "the diversity recruitment and in-house pipeline for all city supervisors, managers, and human resource positions."

Imagine if every employer in America took that step alone and truly worked to make their employees a better reflection of the American people today.

The other recommendations tackle everything from providing resources to historically underfunded schools to "increasing mobility infrastructure," which means improving sidewalks, streetscaping and lighting.

The plan seeks to better represent the history and culture of "Black, Indigenous, and Other People of Color" with a board of public art review. It also includes budgeting for full-time public defender services and improving access to capital so 300 new Black-owned businesses can become sustainable/viable over a five-year period.

Lofty goals, but all achievable.

The more controversial recommendations of the plan, however, led City Council this week to vote against formally receiving the report.

Talk of establishing a $100 million reparation fund using public/private partnerships to improve the economic well-being of Charleston's Black population met with significant push back, even though the report was only being received, not implemented.

Change rarely comes as swiftly as it should, but a community must first recognize that change is needed.

The apology issued several years ago and the creation of this committee demonstrate that Charleston knows change is coming, but clearly it has a long way to go.

We urge other communities in the Palmetto State to look at their own histories and recognize that the sins of the past linger, and we urge Charleston to keep moving forward.

The goal is not to rewrite history or erase it but to learn from it.

The (Orangeburg) Times and Democrat

Aug. 24

Key points in the wake of shootings

Much is being written and said about the shooting incident at Orangeburg-Wilkinson High School this past week.

Some key points:

1. All can be thankful that the outcome was not worse.

In an incident that was first believed by authorities to be - and was reported as - a drive-by shooting as school was dismissing, three students suffered injuries. It has since been revealed that the 14-year-old suspect in the case was arrested on campus with a gun. It has not been revealed whether he was targeting students or shooting indiscriminately. Either way, it is miraculous and fortunate that no one sustained fatal or critical injuries.

2. Sheriff Leroy Ravenell stated at a news conference that the community has a tendency to blame him and law enforcement, and the school district. That is an acknowledgement of frustration with the level of violence in our community and around the country - especially among young people.

It's not a problem that can be solved by law enforcement and the schools alone. Schools educate, and police enforce the laws. In the process, both teach the young about being good people. Somewhere, too many are learning the dark side of life with a lack of appreciation for life itself. The problem is one the entire community must address as a whole and individually. It won't be solved overnight.

3. Guns are a problem in the wrong hands.

Law-abiding citizens have a right to have guns for protection. A gun on school property in the hands of a 14-year-old is not legal in any aspect: The person is too young to buy a gun legally, and guns are illegal on school property. It remains to be seen how the teenager got the weapon used at O-W, but it is safe to say that gun laws are not to blame. Background checks and waiting periods would not have prevented this.

4. Schools cannot be fortresses, but they must be secure.

Recent times have produced calls in some places to get law officers out of schools, particularly being stationed there on a daily basis. Those proposing such are shortsighted. Having resource officers in schools is not only about security, which clearly is enhanced by having a police presence already on the scene in an emergency. Connecting students with police builds relationships and promotes what should be the positive nature of police-citizen interaction.

But security is more than police. The Orangeburg County School District is taking a series of steps to enhance security at O-W, including metal detectors, a streamlined process for beginning and ending the school day, private security and clear book bags. Already, teachers and administrators are educated in dealing with an active-shooter incident - and that reportedly was critical in response to the shootings. Preparation and awareness are and will be essential.

5. The community needs to know more about what happened.

Was this incident related to gang violence in Orangeburg? Was this a targeted shooting? Were others involved? Bringing forth such answers is about more than community curiosity. It's important that people know the details, including a motive, in what occurred at O-W. The facts will play a role in deciding how to further address matters so there is no repeat of the tragedy.

The (Greenwood) Index-Journal

Aug. 21

Live and let die wrong approach to this virus

What's going on in our year-plus-long COVID-19 era?

Positive cases are climbing.

Deaths are once again climbing, too.

Hospitalizations are up.

Children are contracting the virus at a rapid rate.

The delta variant has taken hold and is largely responsible for the surge in hospitalizations, deaths and the increase in children becoming sick.

No one said the vaccines developed and released by Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson were a cure-all, but they have been proven to ward off COVID-19 and at least reduce its impact on most people's health in the event they contract the virus.

The vaccines are also thought to be helpful in the fight against the delta variant. Boosters might be needed as vaccine efficacy can and likely will wane. Think flu shot. It's not just one and done. It's advisable to get a flu shot each year. That a booster is on the horizon should come as no surprise.

Children under age 12 are not yet cleared to receive any of the vaccines.

Proper types and wearing of masks aid in preventing the spread of the virus.

Some lawmakers and governors, however, think only parents and guardians should decide whether children should mask up in schools. That, despite the evidence that masks aid in preventing the spread of the virus.

Here in South Carolina, contrary to that information being readily available and even acknowledged, the attorney general is suing the state's capital city because it has implemented a mask mandate in defiance of state law. Here again, to hell with home rule, which Gov. Henry McMaster repeatedly cited as his reason for not issuing a statewide mask mandate when the virus blanketed the state last year.

And what about the vaccines again? Any data available on that?

Why, yes there is.

Here's a snapshot of the month of July, provided by the state Department of Health and Environmental Control:

- Out of 14,262 reported cases, 88% of the people were not fully vaccinated.

- Out of 550 reported hospitalizations, 77% of patients were not fully vaccinated.

- Out of 110 reported deaths, 79% were not fully vaccinated.

Was the U.S. surgeon general wrong about the effects of cigarette smoking?

Did Jonas Salk dupe us all?

Measles, mumps, rubella - the long list of viruses that virologists and medical science have largely tamped down to near non-existence - would seem to support the premise that masks plus vaccines can and do work.

Again, we have to ask, is it better to do all we can in this modern world of ours to save lives, or should we just let this virus and all its mutations run its course, thin out the weaker ones among the human race and be done?

Is this a far stretch from those who support euthanasia or purifying a race?

Live and let die. Seems contrary to how we should behave as human beings.