South Carolina is where I was born and raised, but don't hold that against the otherwise charming state. Please also don't be the kind of liberal who trash-talks South Carolina as full of backwards rednecks and klansmen who somehow deserve their fate. My family, who is black, lives there. A lot of black people live in South Carolina, as Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, and Amy Klobuchar apparently discovered the day before the state's Democratic primary. I also grew up with a lot of so-called “rednecks," who are often grossly called “trailer trash" because many self-proclaimed liberals still hate poor people. Yeah, some of those folks were racist and unpleasant, but so were a lot of the country club bigots I met outside the South. There are a lot of really great people of all races and income levels in my home state, and they are currently at the mercy of idiots.

Despite COVID-19 getting its General Sherman on throughout the southeast, South Carolina is the only state that doesn't have a stay-at-home order in place, which is strange because it was the first Southern state to issue a stay-at-home order for its enslaved residents before the Civil War. Gov. Henry McMaster argues that the state is “unique," and I agree. That's why I don't want everyone choking to death in the streets like in The Omega Man.


McMaster said Friday that he's taken “mandatory and voluntary" measures to keep South Carolinians at home. The “voluntary" part is the problem because, no matter how nice your house is, no one voluntarily imprisons themselves like Otis the drunk on "The Andy Griffith Show." You gotta make that shit mandatory.

The governor has to his credit done everything but issue the damn order. He's closed schools, as well as access to public parks, beaches, and lakes. He's ended dining-in at restaurants. He's shut down bars and other so-called "nonessential" businesses, including furniture, clothing and shoe stores, even florists, and what kind of world are we living in when a decent floral arrangement is no longer essential? He'll even sic the police on any gathering of three or more people. Why can't he just say the words “Stay. At. Home."?

MCMASTER: If you look at the orders we have issued, both those that advised as well as those that mandate, we have urged people to stay home from the very beginning ... I don't know how many more ways is necessary to say that at this point.

There is one simple but very necessary way of ordering South Carolinians to stay home. It's called a “stay-at-home order." Black people are accustomed to mandates from Southern leaders that restrict our movement. White Southerners, unfortunately, do have a history of not responding well if ordered to do anything they don't like, even something as simple as not owning other human beings. However, the past is not destiny. I think even the most Confederate-flag-loving resident can rise to the challenge of self-preservation.

A stay-at-home order would be on brand for McMaster because he's in the homebody business. The governor and his wife, Peggy, own about 20 rental properties in Columbia, South Carolina. Their tax returns showed that they pulled down $7.7 million in rental income between 2006 and 2015. During that period, they only spent a little more than $500,000 on such annoyances as upkeep, maintenance, and cleaning. The McMasters reportedly racked up dozens of code violations at their properties. Tenants have complained about water pouring from light fixtures, holes in ceilings, bats and mice. Yikes! I wouldn't want to issue a stay-at-home order either if my wife and I were renting out haunted houses.

Although he hasn't ordered folks to stay the fuck home, he did (justifiably) make it all but impossible for many South Carolinians to work. If the newly unemployed are his tenants, though, McMaster's attitude is “fuck you, pay me." He's still collecting rent. His property manager, John Gregg, graciously declared that the governor isn't going to throw people out on the streets during a global pandemic.

GREGG: They all know we're not going to evict. But at some point they have to figure something out.

No, dude, the tenants' slumlord is also their governor. He has an obligation to actively help them “figure something out." Taxpayers are still writing him a check. His $106,000 salary as governor could tide him over if he affirmatively gave his tenants a break until things return somewhat the normal. He should also still do something about the bats and mice.

Now, let's leave with a nice-time look at my home city of Greenville, South Carolina. This isn't the Greenville I grew up in -- downtown in the 1980s was as boarded-up and desolate as it temporarily is now -- but it's the Greenville I introduced to my wife and son. It's the Greenville I love.

The local's experience in Greenville, SC www.youtube.com

And one more ...

Greenville, SC Day Trip (VLOG 10) www.youtube.com

[The State ]

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle. Tickets are on sale now for his latest Nordo collaboration, "Curiouser and Curiouser," an adaptation of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass." It promises to feel like an actual evening with SER (for good or for ill).

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