In 2002, McConnell threatened to impose a “legislative vendetta” against an electric and gas company, the SCANA Corporation, after it ordered employees not to park company vehicles at Maurice Bessinger’s Piggie Park chain of eateries.
At the time of the boycott, McConnell — a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans “neo-confederate” group — called SCANA’s boycott a “basic slap at free speech and freedom of expression.” But for at least a year prior to that controversy, McConnell had also been selling Bessinger’s product line at his own business, CSA Galleries, and continued to do so until closing in 2009. The SPLC reported that the name stood for “Confederate States of America.”
The backlash against Bessinger dated back to 2000, when he began flying the Confederate flag over his restaurants to protest its removal from the dome of the state capitol. Bessinger wrote in his memoir that sales of his products dropped by 98 percent after he began flying the flag, but alluded to “independent grocery stores” that still carried them.
“Those of us on both sides of that question, we got harshly criticized for that compromise, but the mainstream of South Carolina was happy with it,” McConnell told Charleston City Paper regarding the pulling of the Confederate flag from the dome. “And I’m not going to go back and open old wounds and animosities over this. We settled it, we moved forward, and we thought we did so in a great thing.”
Arturo R. García is the managing editor at Racialicious.com. He is based in San Diego, California and has written for both print and broadcast media, including contributions to GlobalComment.com, The Root and Comment Is Free. Follow him on Twitter at @ABoyNamedArt
Raw Story is a progressive news site that focuses on stories often ignored in the mainstream media. While giving coverage to the big stories of the day, we also bring our readers' attention to policy, politics, legal and human rights stories that get ignored in an infotainment culture driven solely by pageviews.
Founded in 2004, Raw Story reaches 9 million unique readers per month and serves more than 30 million pageviews.