For example, a project to address local traffic safety needs has been turned into – and with no factual basis, mind you – a racist fodder festival.
Specifically, a story-of-sorts titled “SCDOT moves to bulldoze Confederate Monument” has circulated on the local Examiner since last Sunday, and even progressed to “NAACP linked to effort to bulldoze Confederate Monument” in a follow-up posted yesterday.
Thing is, though, there’s no bulldozing to be done, and the NAACP didn’t even know about this project, much less had any influence on it.
Here’s the case: two busy highways in Orangeburg merge at an odd angle. Drivers on Russell St can’t see well enough to get onto John C. Calhoun Dr (there’s no merging lane, either) and many accidents occur at that oddly-shaped corner as a result – 30 rear-end collisions alone in the last three years, in fact.
To make needed improvement, the state’s Dept. of Transportation has proposed to create a 90-degree corner at that point, instead, complete with stop sign.
But did you notice I said “moved”? That’s right – moved. Picked up and relocated – not “bulldozed,” as some wannabe-reporter declares in the title of his first article on the subject.
And to where, exactly, would it be moved? On to same-sized property that SCV would get in exchange, according to Kevin Gantt, who’s managing this project for SCDOT.
This didn’t create a SCV vs. SCDOT ring match, either. A public meeting on the project was held Feb. 23 at Orangeburg’s Chamber of Commerce facility. And instead of the roaring ruckus the “writer” seems hopeful to promote in reader response, the meeting barely produced any burps.
In fact, the local SCV commander Peter Boineau seemed agreeable to the road improvement. “As long as we can come to an agreement with our monument and our flag and as long as it is a visible place with all the camps in agreement, I see no problem in this being resolved,” he told the local newspaper.
“There is no need for anybody to get upset about anything as long as there is a place where we can meet in the middle.”
There could actually be quite a few middles to meet, too, according to Gantt, who says there could be a few locations to choose from when that time comes, and some locations were even proposed by SCV members at the meeting.
As for the “NAACP linked to” part of the title used in one of those cheesy write-ups?
“I don’t know where that claim started,” Gantt said. “We’ve had no contact with the NAACP.”
Not only did the NAACP itself confirm that it had no contact with anyone on this project, but it didn’t even know about the project.
I had to inform Barbra Williams, president of the Orangeburg branch of NAACP, about the proposed roadway improvement. “I have no knowledge of that,” she said.
One of the so-called articles claims the intersection was selected by the Lower Savannah Council of Governments, the chair of which is a “major supporter” of the local NAACP, it reads.
But COG doesn’t play any part in this planning phase, according to Gantt. “The projects are (first) identified by local entities,” he said, adding that COG’s agreement to fund comes later. So far in this project’s development, COG “has had no communications on it.”
I don’t want to give the person who wrote all that drivel the chance to earn a single cent from his tomfoolery, so I won’t offer links to the articles in question from that particular Examiner site. But if you care to actually read the gibberish, here’s a link to the first one from another source: “SCDOT moves to bulldoze Confederate Monument.”
Be forewarned, though; that link will bring you to the site of American Renaissance, a hate group labeled by the Southern Poverty Law Center to be of “white nationalist” persuasion. (Incidentally, SPLC also notes the author of these so-called articles to be a “new racialist.”)
So is there any lesson in all this? Well, there could be few to learn.
For starters, a problematic traffic corner in Orangeburg can be corrected. SVC is willing to work with SCDOT on that project. The Confederate monument that’s currently at that corner will be moved to a new location. And no matter what any lunatic may still be claiming, the NAACP didn’t have anything to do with the plan – in fact, it didn’t even know of the proposed road project until I personally told its president about it this evening.
A more important lesson that I hope everyone would know by now, though, is to be very, very critical of what attempts to pass itself off as “news” on the Internet.
Always question. Always verify.
As I hope I’ve demonstrated, the worldwide web seems to have opened the closet doors of quite a few kooks – and racists, too.