While I cannot attest to Maurice Bessinger’s present whereabouts, I feel fairly confident that if the recently deceased Piggie Park baron and unrepentant racist had ended up in the bowels of hell, Satan and his minions would slather his body in mustard-based BBQ sauce before they dined — not because the yellow stuff is the best, but simply because it would be the poetic choice.
Hopefully, Bessinger repented in his final days for his many, many years of championing racist causes and adding to South Carolina’s ongoing embarrassment. Then again, Maurice was never the kind to apologize, no matter how odious his opinions were.
In case we forget, Bessigner reportedly protested desegregation by putting a sign up in his Piggie Park restaurant that read: The law makes us serve niggers, but any money we get from them goes to the Ku Klux Klan.
He also offered a tableful of racist tracts, print outs, and pamphlets at his Columbia restaurants. One in particular argued that the Bible condoned slavery, and, as such, American slavery was not only just, but Almighty approved. Lovely.
And let us not forget that when Bessinger’s BBQ empire began to crumble back in 2000 following his zealous support of the Confederate flag on the Statehouse dome, the Piggie Park porker defended the battle flag by suggesting that archaeologists had discovered the distinctive Rebel flag “X” in artifacts that went back thousands of years. He also claimed that the white slaughter of North America’s native population was OK, because North America was previously inhabited by a race of hobbit-sized people, who, coincidentally, had been slaughtered by Native Americans. Strange indeed.
These latter statements didn’t receive the same sort of press as Bessinger’s rants supporting the Confederate flag did. Nor did they receive the same coverage as his rants against the grocery stores that pulled his mustard-based BBQ sauce from their shelves. But he said them. I know, because he would routinely sending faxes to my employer at the time, GSA Business Journal in Greenville, and we would read them in disbelief.
I would like to believe that Maurice Bessinger was a great satirist and not just an out-of-touch bigot. I would like to think that Maurice Bessigner was a parody of traditional “Southern values.” I would like to think that Maurice Bessinger suffered the slings and arrows of the multiculturalist mob in order to point out that racism was still very much alive and well in South Carolina — and by doing so, he was trying to combat the evil that has infected the Southern soul for far too long. Sadly, I don’t think that the case.
Stay cool. Support City Paper.
City Paper has been bringing the best news, food, arts, music and event coverage to the Holy City since 1997. Support our continued efforts to highlight the best of Charleston with a one-time donation or become a member of the City Paper Club.