I wouldn't have done this. I would have assumed that it wasn't the right time or place, and that there was no chance of changing anyone's mind. However, Deanna Bernstein felt otherwise:
Deanna Bernstein of Summerville wanted to spend a night at the Coastal Carolina Fair eating the food and enjoying the rides and playing the games. Instead, she ended up in jail.
When Bernstein passed a vendor selling a T-shirt Wednesday with Confederate flags and the words "Confederately Correct Civil Rights for Southern Whites," her stomach turned....
She asked the vendor to remove the shirt and complained to fair management. When the T-shirt wasn't put away, a friend bought one for Bernstein and she stood outside the fair gates with the T-shirt in hand to ask people coming in what they thought about it....
Charleston County sheriff's deputies asked Bernstein to leave. When she didn't, she was arrested on a trespassing charge and fined $440, and she said she spent about eight hours in the county detention center....
Bernstein, by the way, is originally from California. She was being well-mannered, we're told, but it seems she violated a rule (unwritten, the fair's president says) about making political statements on the fairgrounds. (That rule apparently extends to people who are just outside the fairgrounds, but doesn't extend to merchandise sold on the fairgrounds.)
Now here's what's happened since then:
Hate-filled messages have been pouring in at The Post and Courier after a story was published about Bernstein's arrest....
Her address was posted on a blog with the comment, "Prediction: We'll see backwards swastikas painted on her house soon."
...More than a dozen readers called the newspaper and about 90 sent e-mails to express opinions on the story about Bernstein. The response was mixed. One couple sent a $100 check to help with her legal fees, while others offered to help pay for her flight out of town.
One e-mail from Bill White, who identified himself as commander of the American National Socialist Workers' Party, said, "The only tragedy in this case is that her count of trespassing doesn't carry a sentence of execution. Lynching her and burning her home in the manner of the Union armies she so loves would set a just example for the community."
Bill White? He's not some nut hiding behind a nondescript pseudonym -- he's a well-known racist leader. Here's his Wikipedia entry. The Southern Poverty Law Center says he runs "the second most popular racist site on the Internet."
And he has no fear openly recommending death for this woman in an e-mail using his own name. But as the Wikipedia page notes, he openly calls for the violent death of all sorts of people:
...He was in the news ... in 2005 when the New York Times quoted him as having "laughed" when the husband and 89-year-old mother of United States district court judge Joan Lefkow were murdered. Lefkow had previously ruled against white supremacist Matthew Hale in a trademark dispute. The paper quoted White as having written on his website: "Everyone associated with the Matt Hale trial has deserved assassination for a long time. I don't feel bad that Judge Lefkow's family was murdered today. In fact, when I heard the story, I laughed."
... He wrote that the [Columbine] massacre was an expression of Friedrich Nietzsche's "will to power," and that: "[h]ad this shooting occurred outside a police station, or outside the NATO conference, or outside the White House, it would have been much more effective."
...In the summer of 2005, the director of a commission investigating the 1979 Greensboro massacre complained to police after White posted commissioners' addresses on the Web. White hinted he would like to shoot the commission members, a comment he later claimed was meant in jest....
I guess you can make statements like these in America with impunity, under your own name, and nothing will happen to you. (Notice, by the way, that White had the good sense to call for violence at the White House when Clinton was in office and threatening the president with serious physical harm was OK.)
Meanwhile, here's an interesting comment on the county fair:
Linda Willis of Summerville wrote the fair organizers to urge them to ban similar merchandise. Willis said she's lived all over the United States, recently moving back to the area, and has never seen so much Confederate paraphernalia.
"We've come back over the years and thought, 'God, I can't believe that still exists here,'" she said in a phone interview.
She says there's more than ever.
So I guess that hip new American centrism isn't catching on everywhere.