As someone who ran as a Democrat for a state House of Representatives seat just two years ago (spoiler alert: I lost), I’m about to say something that you probably won’t expect. And no, this is not going to be some unnecessary hot take like, “Mother Emanuel was an inside job” or anything like that. I’m going to give a genuine compliment to an aspiring Republican candidate: I like Catherine Templeton. I mean, I’m not going to vote for her, but I think she’s running a smart campaign.
For the record, I was not paid or bribed to say this. Rather, this is me trying to adhere to one of the few New Year’s Resolutions I gave myself. Specifically, to do a better job at saving the baby while discarding said baby’s bath water.
You see, I’m all about a good protest. I remember my mom telling me stories about my aunts participating in non-violent protest with their classmates during the height of the Civil Rights Movement. She told me that her sisters were part of groups who sat at lunch counters in downtown Charleston that were clearly marked as “For Whites Only.” While their particular part of the revolution was not televised, it still plays a part in the eventual desegregation of eateries in the Holy City. Side note: The irony that a city marked for both its friendliness and food was once a hotbed for not-so-civil discourse is not lost on me.
Anyway, I guess you can say that stirring pots is in my DNA. While I’m less of a “boots on the ground” type of soldier, I believe that my ability to instigate critical thinking is a skill no less valuable than someone with the ability to march. I preface this with that to say that while I’m never going to stop speaking out against injustice, I do want to do a better job at hating the act without totally dismissing the person or organization behind the act.
For example, did H&M deserve to get dragged in the mud for that “Coolest Monkey In the Jungle” fiasco? Abso-friggin-lutely. But should every person of color stop shopping at the retailer forever? Unless H&M has a history of pulling tone deaf stunts like this on the regular, probably not.
In that same vein, comedian Mo’Nique requested that all black people boycott Netflix for what she alleges was blatant racial and gender bias against her during her negotiations with the company. If what she says is true, she was only offered $500,000 to record a stand-up special for the streaming media company. Conversely, Amy Schumer, who is funny in a “I can’t believe a woman speaks like this” kind of way, was given over $11 million for hers. Can I agree 100 percent with Mo’Nique without vilifying her for asking me to give up the most crucial part of the ‘Netflix and Chill’ combination? Yes I can.
I know you’re probably thinking, “Wait, what does Mo’Nique have to do with Catherine Templeton?” Actually, nothing. Talking about Mo’Nique was just a set-up for the crux of this column — the commonality I see between Mrs. Templeton and Amy Schumer.
See, Amy has carved out a very handsome living for herself by following in the footsteps of many of her male comedic counterparts. Men whose stand-up routines lend much credence to President Trump’s questionable definition of “locker room talk.” Her shtick isn’t original (see: Lisa Lampanelli), it’s just packaged in a way that mainstream America can accept and it’s made her a rich woman. I believe that Catherine Templeton is following that strategy and you know what? I ain’t mad at her for it. If repacking old jokes for a new crowd can net Amy Schumer tens of millions of dollars then the same could be said for Templeton who is tooting the same racist, xenophobic dog whistle that took Donald Trump from network television to the Presidency.
Templeton’s already shown us that she’s willing to follow the “How To Run For Public Office Like Donald Trump” playbook as she was filmed unabashedly showing her support for the Confederacy. And now she’s standing, both literally and figuratively, with our Governor — a card-carrying member of a golf club that exclusively admitted white men until last year — Henry McMaster.
McMaster, for those of you that don’t know, recently issued an official proclamation calling for everyone in the Palmetto State to stand for the national anthem during the Super Bowl. Entitled “Stand For The Flag Super Bowl Sunday,” the decree gives a bunch of random South Carolina-related military facts in its thinly veiled attempt to further distance the original reason people were kneeling during the playing of the national anthem in the first place. I’m not shocked by this at all. As chair of the South Carolina Republican Party from 1993 to 2002, Henry Dargan McMaster is as “good ol’ boy” as can be and has shown a willingness to do anything in his attempts to secure an “atta boy” from our Orange Julius in Chief.
On cue, Templeton tweeted her support of McMaster’s proclamation, followed by a tweet expressing her confidence in the president after his State of the Union. Here’s where the whole ‘throw away the baby out with the bathwater’ thing comes into play. I get why she’s doing this. In a blood red state like South Carolina, it’s her clearest path to the Governor’s Mansion. But it doesn’t make it any less disappointing. She seems like a very intelligent woman, but by mimicking whatever the powerful white men above her do, unfortunately, Templeton has resigned herself to be nothing more than just another voice yelling into the echo chamber.