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The warnings of “Tourist Trap” are largely a product of frustration at our culture being reforged into a better prostitute for the fleeting entertainment of rude interlopers (present company excluded, I’m sure).
The “Historic Center” of Charleston _is_ repulsive. It’s designed to give the impression of historicity, but be sanitized enough to sell. The museums are largely a bad joke. The tours are more showmanship than scholarship. The “authentic Southern cuisine” found in our restaurants is a complete lie, since nobody’s grandmother cooked remotely like that (Don’t tell Anthony Bourdain).
Please know that I’m not frustrated at you. I’m not even frustrated at a city growing and changing with the times. I’m frustrated (as are many Charlestonians) at the history of the South, _especially_ the ugly parts, being rubbed out because it makes people uncomfortable. And that history is being replaced by a more palatable lie.
There’s a statue of John C. Calhoun in the center of Marion Square park, decorated with the words “Truth, Justice, and the Constitution.” Shortly after the recent mass-murder someone from the BLM movement spray-painted the words, “And Slavery” on it. I was galled, not because the statue was vandalized but because it was such an obvious correction.
John C. Calhoun was one of the architects of our country. He was involved in government for the most formative decades of our country’s existence. He served as vice-president to two administrations. He was, by many accounts, a decent man. But his influence was instrumental to slavery remaining an institution for as long as it did. In other words, he was a complex person with good and bad traits who did both good and bad things.
Yet today’s Charleston would offer us this simplified, sanitized, tedious platitude and convince us it was “history.”
“Truth, Justice, and The Constitution.”