WASHINGTON — The Republican party has found itself in more race-related hot water, this time involving a top South Carolina party member who attended a recent event in Civil War attire and posed for photos with two African-American men apparently dressed as slaves.
Glenn McConnell, the president of the South Carolina Senate, is a Civil War re-enactment enthusiast who attended a function last week called “A Southern Experience,” hosted by a Republican women’s group in a state that still flies the Confederate flag at its legislature.
Photos of him in a Union uniform posing with two smiling black men dressed in peasant clothing, one holding a washboard, have gone viral after they were posted to a Facebook site. The men were hired to appear at the event.
It’s just the latest in a series of race-related incidents that have plagued Republicans — who proudly abolished slavery in 1865 — since the election two years ago of America’s first African-American president.
In the 22 months since Barack Obama won the historic vote, a Florida Republican official was forced to resign for sending a racist email about African-Americans who celebrated inauguration day in D.C., while a southern California mayor lost his job for sending another email depicting the White House lawn as a giant watermelon patch.
South Carolina, in particular, has been under a glare of negative publicity for a handful of racist incidents involving the Obamas. Republican officials in the state have apologized for likening an escaped gorilla to an ancestor of Michelle Obama’s and for referring to the president and Nikki Haley, an Indian-American gubernatorial candidate, as a pair of “ragheads.”
In the latest incident, McConnell has defended the pictures and the so-called “antebellum” event, saying they prove how far the state has advanced.