Even with a stepped up boycott of South Carolina by the NAACP, it is doubtful that the Confederate battle flag that flies on the grounds of the state Capitol will be moving anytime soon. Meanwhile, the boycott is both futile and self-defeating for its sponsors.
Leaders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People stated their determination to invigorate a campaign against South Carolina for flying the flag at the Statehouse. During the organization's 99th national convention in Cincinnati, Ohio, leaders said they would exert continued pressure to discourage NCAA sporting championships and film production in South Carolina.
State NAACP President Lonnie Randolph echoed that statement, calling the effort to bring down the flag "unfinished business."
Unfortunately for those who support this boycott, however, it seems that many South Carolinians have considered this to be finished business ever since the Legislature voted to move the flag in 2000 from the Statehouse dome to a monument on the grounds.
"We have had no discussion, none, zilch of the Confederate flag in the Senate since 2000," said state Sen. John Courson, who drafted the legislation used to move the flag.
The NAACP's boycott has been a bust in changing minds on this issue. While the boycott has sought to discourage tourism to the state, tourism continues to boom. It remains the state's No. 1 industry with an estimated economic impact on the economy that has risen from $7.5 billion in 2000 to current levels of $14.6 billion a year.
The NAACP's biggest "success" has been in persuading the NCAA not to allow championship college basketball events in the state. But that result is decidedly mixed: It denies fans and sports venues in the state a piece of the 11-year, $6.2-billion contract with CBS to televise games. That hurts black and white South Carolinians alike.
National NAACP leaders also met recently with motion picture industry representatives to urge them not to film in the state. But the NAACP will be competing with a new push by state tourism officials to promote South Carolina as a site for film production.
We are not unsympathetic with the goal of this boycott. This newspaper avidly supported the long-running battle to remove the Confederate banner from the Capitol dome. We also agree that the flag should be displayed in a setting that better reflects its historic context than its current location at a prominent site on the Statehouse grounds.
But accomplishing that will require more than a symbolic and largely ineffective boycott. The only practical hope of getting the flag moved would be to change the political composition of the Legislature, which could take years of hard work at the grass-roots level.
Meanwhile, we think the NAACP should suspend its boycott, whose only real accomplishment appears to be keeping basketball championships from being played in South Carolina.
NAACP has had little success in persuading tourists from visiting South Carolina.
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