“Today we are here in a moment of unity in our state without ill will to say it is time to remove the flag from our capitol grounds,” said Haley, a Republican and the state’s first non-white governor, while flanked by a diverse group of South Carolina politicians.
“This flag, while an integral part of our past, does not represent the future of our great state,” she said.
The flag can only be removed from its location in front of the State legislature with the approval of two-thirds of that body. And Haley said if the state’s General Assembly doesn’t convene on the matter in this last week of the legislative year, she would call up lawmakers to the capital “under extraordinary measures.”
Tongue-tied over the issue for nearly a week, senior Republicans jumped on the bandwagon Monday and called for folding up the Confederate battle flag after Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina said the Civil War symbol should be removed from the state Capitol.
Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, acknowledged that while the flag meant different things to different people, it was time to take it down.
“The fact that it continues to be a painful reminder of racial oppression to many suggests, to me at least, that it’s time to move beyond it, and that the time for a state to fly it has long since passed,” Mr. McConnell said.
A 2011 poll by the Pew Research Center also found that a significant share of Americans felt indifferent about the Confederate flag. The majority of respondents (58 percent) said they had neither a positive nor a negative feeling when they saw the Confederate flag displayed. Very few (9 percent) stated that they had a positive feeling upon seeing the flag, and 30 percent said they had a negative reaction.
Even among white respondents who identified themselves as Southerners, the majority (64 percent) had neither a positive nor a negative reaction to the flag. Twenty-two percent felt positively about seeing the flag, and 13 percent felt negatively.
Given the baseline indifference that many Americans feel, South Carolina is likely to change its policy only in the wake of tragedy. In ordinary circumstances, many Americans do not feel strongly enough about the significance of the flag to demand that it be lowered.
[Arkansas’s General Assembly reaffirmed the parameters of the flag in a 1987 act that [Bill] Clinton signed. Among other provisions detailing the flag’s features, such as its colors and shapes, there was a line that read, “The blue star above the word ‘ARKANSAS’ is to commemorate the Confederate States of America.” The act met no significant opposition at the time. In the same legislative session, the assembly also settled on an official state song.
Arkansas observes a Confederate Flag Day, which is celebrated together with Arkansas Confederate History and Heritage Month and Confederate Memorial Day. Per state code, it is observed on the Saturday immediately preceding Easter Sunday. In annual gatherings outside the Arkansas Statehouse, participants can “attend and bring examples of the variety of flags used by Arkansas units and of the Confederate government and its army during the War,” according to the Log Cabin Democrat, an Arkansas newspaper.
Clinton did not publicly object to Confederate Flag Day during his time as governor.
For a good many people, including many who will no doubt froth with outrage at me, it is simply the symbol of their rejection of the political correctness of liberals. A sort of “you’re not the boss of me” temper tantrum. They want to keep the flag simply because they’ve been told not to. For others, it is a more complicated symbol of keeping our grip on our independence. The idea that we cannot bend or bow to the dictates of the easily influenced crowd when doing so is merely contributing to erosion of our free speech. They will say we cannot simply ban every offensive thing or no things will be left. And for still others (I simply insist you at last recognize and admit this) it just straight out racism. Racism does exist folks. It is a real thing. There are those who have the same kind of racism as dominated the sick mind of the killer of Christians from last week. The kind of racism that constantly assures itself and others that it is not, in fact, racism at all, but simply realism. Those people are part of this too, and in larger numbers than it seems a lot of people care to admit.
And in the end, all of the objections, the lot of them, well they don’t amount to very much. Because the Civil War is simple. The Confederacy fought a war to continue the practice of owning slaves. The United States fought a war and the practice stopped. And continuing to fly the flag of the one diminishes the accomplishment of the other.
The South rebelled. The rebellion is over. The Confederate States are no more. The rebel flag should not be on the Statehouse grounds in South Carolina. Yes, because of racism. Yes, because of hate. Yes, because of perception and symbolism. What is a flag if not a symbol? That is its whole purpose. It is not the symbol of state’s rights or freedom. It is the symbol of owning human beings as slaves. It is the symbol of war against America. It is they symbol of a South that does not, and should not, exist anymore. South Carolina should recognize and understand this, and they should take it off of the capitol grounds.
At the end of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln sought to heal and unite the nation,. In his Second Inaugural, he reminded us that the North and South both read the same Bible and worshipped the same God and urged us to care for all the nation’s widows and orphans. Today, so that we may achieve a just and lasting peace among ourselves, let us take down the flag.
What greater act of reconciliation and respect could the members of the South Carolina General Assembly pay to their fallen colleague, Senator and Reverend Clementa Pickney, than to rescind the law under which the flag now so divisively flies?
So, take the flag down. Not out of admission of guilt, or complicity, or evil intent, but out of mercy, charity, compassion, empathy, healing, love. Give up a little pride to grant others a little peace. That is what all in the state, all in the nation, most desperately need. We all want the healing to begin. Taking down the flag is a good place to start.
If you were standing next to a black friend and fellow citizen and looked up and saw a Confederate flag on display, how would you feel? The situation would be awkward at best. How would the black citizen feel? Is there anything there for him or her to celebrate? Of course not. The Confederate flag is nothing more than a condescending, mean-spirited taunt. If you want to shake your fist at Washington, celebrate Southern pride or whatever, figure out a way to do it that doesn’t have an obvious racist connotation.
I am a proud Alabamian, but no one in the South should hide behind the notion that the flag has a place in the public square because “it is part of our history.” There are plenty of symbols and words that are part of history that are off-limits because they are offensive and have no place in modern society. And the idea that we Southerners should ignore anyone pointing out the obvious and refuse to listen to outsiders because we think they shouldn’t tell us what to do with that flag is silly. Obstinance in furtherance of an insult is no virtue.
I was thinking, hypothetically, of a guy who wears his great-grandfather’s ca. 1931 Wehrmacht army shirt. The shirt is pre-Hitler — just a year or two before Hitlerism, but pre-Hitler. It can’t be said to be a Nazi shirt; it was the shirt of the Wehrmacht a couple of years before the rise of Naziism.
And the guy could explain this to anyone who sees him wearing his 1931 Wehrmacht shirt. When they say “That’s a Nazi shirt,” he can say — truthfully, accurately– “No, actually, this is a German Army shirt from two years before Hitler rose to power.”…
And yet he knows he is plausibly confused with someone wearing Nazi uniforms, for the purpose of celebrating the Nazis.
And he’s at peace with that. This is a signal he knows he’s giving off, and doesn’t seem to mind giving off.
The flag is an ugly symbol of treason, slavery, violence and racism, yet under the guise of “heritage” it has maintained a prominent position in a public space in a state in which 1.3 million residents, or about 30 percent of the population, is black…
Even if somebody takes the most cynical view of this decision, and views it as a pure political calculation, the fact that it’s now seen as politically smart for a South Carolina governor to take a stand against the Confederate flag represents progress.
If last week’s tragic shooting served as a reminder of how far we still have to go to fight racism in this country, Monday’s announcement should be seen as indication of how far we’ve come.
Yet it should be remembered that the presence of the Confederate flag in the state capitol did not prevent the people of South Carolina from electing Tim Scott to both the House of Representatives and later the Senate. I might add that during the GOP primary for the House seat, Scott bested Paul Thurmond, the son of the late Strom Thurmond. I’m sure that the election of an African-American Republican could not have pleased Dylann Roof.
But the electoral success of Tim Scott doesn’t merit consideration by liberal elites precisely because Scott is a conservative Republican and that isn’t good enough for liberal elites. It never is.
I’m afraid, though, that we are about to see a run on Confederate battle flags. Someone is going to make a tidy profit.
The only people I know who grumble and dwell on the flag are busy-body academics and people who don’t live in the South who have a low opinion of the region with or without the flag. The response, in the South, has been a reinforcement that others are bigoted toward the South and that the flag really does represent heritage, not hate — a heritage a bunch of racist1, northern white liberals want to stamp out. I have more than one relative, as do most white Southerners, who has a battle flag with “Heritage Not Hate” written in proximity to it. You and I can roll our eyes at this, but it is pervasive.
And now, because a bunch of mostly white yankees are again yelling about the battle flag, we’re not going to see a flag and tradition die out. Instead, we’re going to see a bunch of twenty and thirty-something Southerners go out and buy fresh flags as a middle finger to the Northern white liberals who did not like them without the flag. The Sons of Confederate Veterans are probably getting recruiting material ready as we speak.
Via the Daily Caller.
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