Deep, strong feelings exist on both sides of the Confederate flag debate, but a majority of South Carolina lawmakers dodged attempts on Monday to pin down where they stand on removing the flag from the Statehouse grounds.

The Post and Courier reached out to all 170 House and Senate members in an attempt to determine how much support existed for removing the flag, as Gov. Nikki Haley has called on the Legislature to do…

By 6:30 p.m., those in the House supporting removal outnumbered opponents by a 4-to-1 margin. But less than half of the chamber had returned calls or emails, making it impossible to say how a vote might turn out. Across the aisle, only 19 of 46 Senators had weighed in.

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“On the face, it might seem like a really difficult decision,” said one local Republican operative involved in meetings over the past several days with the governor who asked for anonymity to speak openly. “But, really, it was pretty easy. South Carolina has changed a lot in the last five years. It took some of the old guard Republicans dying, frankly, for this new generation of conservative leaders to come in and remake the party.”…

“We were missing out on some great opportunities to showcase our state,” said Glenn McCall, an RNC committeeman who stood with Haley on Monday. “We’ve lost some NCAA tournaments, some big companies looking to relocate because of that flag.”…

There was a sense among South Carolina Republican leaders, including Graham, that they couldn’t come out too forcefully against the flag until they were certain there would be enough support across the state to follow through. A source familiar with Graham’s thinking noted that in addition to the sensitivities around the families of those killed, there were economic considerations in play.

“If the senior senator rushed out right in front of the cameras, and the flag had not come down, you just handed the competing states a huge weapon to use against you,” said the source, noting that other states would try to attract business based on the state failing to follow through on a moral call from a senior leader. “Failure is not an option.”

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Amazon’s sales of Confederate flags have skyrocketed by more than 3,000% in the past 24 hours.

People are snatching up the flags online after several major retailers — including eBay, Wal-Mart, and Sears — pulled them from shelves.

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Hillary Clinton Tuesday praised the South Carolina legislature for its decision to take down the Confederate flag—but she that it is only an initial step in “America’s long struggle with race.”

“It shouldn’t fly there, it shouldn’t fly anywhere,” Clinton told a community meeting at Christ the King church in Florissant, Mo., Tuesday afternoon.

Clinton also said she wanted to “commend” Wal-Mart (she once sat on the company’s board) for ceasing to sell items that picture the Confederate Flag, noting that other companies—Amazon, eBay and Sears among them—have followed. “I urge all sellers to do the very same,” she said.

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Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul says he believes the Confederate battle flag is “inescapably a symbol of human bondage and slavery” and needs to go.

“No, I agree, I think the flag is inescapably a symbol of human bondage and slavery, and particularly when people use it obviously for murder and to justify hated so vicious that you would kill somebody I think that that symbolism needs to end, and I think South Carolina is doing the right thing,” Paul told radio host Jeff Kuhner on WKRO radio on Tuesday morning.”…

“There have been people who have used it for southern pride and heritage and all of that but really to I think to every African-American in the country it’s a symbolism of slavery to them and now it’s a symbol of murder for this young man and so I think it’s time to put it in a museum.”

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One of the most prominent U.S. flag makers said on Tuesday it will stop manufacturing and selling Confederate flags in the wake of last week’s attack on worshipers at a black church in Charleston, South Carolina.

Reggie VandenBosch, vice president of sales at the privately owned Valley Forge Flag, said the Pennsylvania-based company came to the decision amid growing controversy over the Confederate flag, which currently flies outside the South Carolina state capitol in Columbia…

“We hope that this decision will show our support for those affected by the recent events in Charleston and, in some small way, help to foster racial unity and tolerance in our country,” Valley Forge Flag said in a statement.

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The studio behind The Dukes of Hazzard has become the latest corporate giant to get out of the Confederate flag business. Vulture has learned exclusively that Warner Bros.’ consumer licensing division — which for decades has licensed images of the Duke brothers’ iconic General Lee car for use on everything from T-shirts and model cars to lunch boxes and kids’ underwear — has opted to stop sanctioning the manufacturing of any products featuring the stars and bars. “Warner Bros. Consumer Products has one licensee producing die-cast replicas and vehicle model kits featuring the General Lee with the confederate flag on its roof — as it was seen in the TV series,” a spokesman for the company said via e-mail. “We have elected to cease the licensing of these product categories.” Translation: While you’ll still be able to buy a T-shirt featuring the General Lee — minus any visible sign of the flag — you won’t be able to buy any new toy cars or model kits with the car, period. The decision will only impact one company, Round 2, an Indiana-based model company which features a flag-less General Lee on the homepage of its website, touting it as “Television’s Most Famous Car.” 

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In Texas, Representative Joaquin Castro, a Democrat from San Antonio, called on state leaders to work together to remove Confederate monuments from the University of Texas campus in Austin, a day after the university president, Gregory Fenves, promised to work with student leaders to review the issue.

In Tennessee, lawmakers are seeking to remove a bust of a Confederate general, Nathan Bedford Forrest, from the Capitol, The Associated Press reported. In Nashville, several City Council members are seeking to cover up a private statue of Forrest that sits along the Interstate 65 corridor.

At a rally here in Columbia outside the State House, flag opponents chanted “bring it down,” and urged more people around the state to help them keep up the pressure on lawmakers. “If our ancestors could march, then certainly you can pick up the telephone, use Twitter,” said State Senator Marlon Kimpson.

The Rev. Nelson Rivers III vowed that “we will keep coming back over and over and over” until the flag is gone.

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Two buttons offering support for one of Bill Clinton’s presidential runs made the rounds on social media over the weekend. The first shows the Confederate battle flag with the words “Clinton-Gore” superimposed

When Clinton was first running in 1992, his geographic background was a key advantage. Since Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act into law, the act that hastened the South’s partisan flip, four Northern Democrats and one Southern Democrat had run for the presidency. Only the Southern one, Jimmy Carter, won — and he only won once. Clinton, a Southern governor of a state whose flag still alludes to its history in the Confederacy, needed to solidify support from nearby states to have a chance at unseating George H.W. Bush. He ended up winning Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Tennessee and Georgia. A button like the one at top wouldn’t necessarily have hurt.

The politics then were less complicated than they are now. It’s believable that Clinton and Gore might have had a Confederate button, though we don’t know for sure that they did.

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The flag – technically the battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia, not the “national” flag of the Confederate States of America – was raised over the capitol dome in South Carolina in 1961, at a time when the Democrats completely controlled the state’s government

While the flag’s raising may not have been explicitly political or racial, however, the political context in which it was raised and kept flying was inseparable from the civil rights battles of the era and their revival of the federal government’s fight to reimpose the civil rights protections it instituted after the Civil War and then let fall into disuse for nearly a century after the end of Reconstruction. And the South Carolina governor responsible for that decision, Ernest “Fritz” Hollings, was a Democrat – and not just any old ancient Dixiecrat from a dusty, now-forgotten era of different partisan alignments, but a man who served in the U.S. Senate, in which he was warmly welcomed in the Democratic caucus, for 40 years from 1966 to 2005, alongside people like Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) 0%, Hillary Clinton, Dick Durbin and Chuck Schumer. In 2010, our current, sitting Vice President paid warm, glowing tribute to Hollings at the dedication of a library named for him at the University of South Carolina…

The partisan tilt of the state’s politics, of course, had shifted a good deal by 1996, when Republican Governor David Beasley proposed bringing the flag down and moving it to a less prominent site on the capitol grounds. Beasley’s plan never got through the state legislature, and was opposed by the NAACP. Democrats, seeing an opportunity, shrewdly pounced.

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There is one complication in the journey toward consciousness of Republican white supremacy. The actual Confederacy, as even casual students of history know, was entirely under the control of the Democratic Party. The dominance of Democrats goes beyond familiar tropes about “Dixiecrats” and Abraham Lincoln’s status as the first Republican president. The Confederate Congress did not observe party affiliations, and minor parties were relatively robust in the Civil War period, while the actual politics of the Confederacy have received little attention from historians. Nevertheless, to the extent the party affiliations of Confederate politicians can be ascertained, they are remarkable.

All 27 senators in the second Confederate Senate, and at least 62 of the 106 members of the Second Confederate Congress, were Democrats. So were Confederate president Jefferson Davis and vice president Alexander Stephens. This, by the way, was after the elections of 1863 and 1864, when southern voters reacted to disastrous battlefield results by slightly weakening the Democratic Party’s stranglehold. And the Democrats’ practical, rather than symbolic, support of the Confederacy ends at the border. After his lousy generalship nearly lost the war for the Union, George McClellan went on challenge Lincoln in the 1864 presidential election, promising to “defeat NEGRO EQUALITY” and bring about an “Honorable, Permanent and happy PEACE!” And he ran as a Democrat. (McClellan’s successors having finally started to win the war, he lost the election.)…

Polities where the Democrats enjoy one-party rule today include basket cases like Detroit, where African Americans endure some of the worst living conditions in the country, and creative-class playgrounds like San Francisco, whose black population was purged in the period of urban renewal. The stars and bars, by contrast, have been drained of any real political meaning through countless iterations in movies, Avalon Hill board games, and Molly Hatchet T-shirts. You might even say practical damage to a group of people is more important than symbolic disrespect.

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Basically it’s just such a hysterical atmosphere at this point, that no one can conceive of a person who is against something but also willing to tolerate the expression of that thing. Can we be against Jeff Davis — and also against destroying art and monuments and history just because they involve Jeff Davis?…

Listen, it’s great that we’re aiming to be an anti-racist society. That’s very, very good! But it’s bad that we are slowly forgetting how to dislike something without seeking its utter destruction. Somehow we’ve abandoned the aesthetic of Abraham Lincoln for that of Mao Tse-Tung…

This is in fact what outrage culture does. We’re addicted to judgment porn, and this is just the latest example. And just like traditional porn, outrage porn serves only for momentary release. Confederate flag burning doesn’t actually do anything to stop racism. It’s a complete sideshow. And once we’ve blown up every confederate statue and smashed every tombstone with Confederate marks and erased all evidence of the Confederacy from our roads, we’ll still have the scourge of racism and every other sin with us.

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[F]or white Christians facing whatever the American future holds, a debate like the one that’s happening around the Charleston massacre and Confederate flag right now is actually potentially very significant. It hints, at least, at a kind of crossroads for people, white conservative Christians, who thought of themselves as the core of America but who feel like they’re becoming more peripheral to the society that we’re becoming or moving toward.

On the one hand, that peripheral feeling could lead, as it sometimes has in the Obama era, to a kind of emergent white identity politics, a doubling down on whiteness-as-Americanness that marinates in its own dispossessed self-pity, a nationwide version of the Dixie ressentiment that, more than explicit racism, explains the enduring appeal of the stars-and-bars.

On the other, the newfound feeling of being peripheral could encourage healing and outreach across the lines that have divided white Christians from their brethren in the past. This is what the Southern Baptist leader Russell Moore has in mind, I think, in his much-cited piece urging Christians to take down the Confederate battle flag. The point of doing so is not to make some sort of concession to political correctness or liberal pressure; it’s to extend a hand to the people whose ancestors were actually victimized, enslaved, and yes, persecuted as Christians by the culture and the civilization that went to war under that flag.

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This effort to have the battle flag of northern Virginia removed is really an attempt to segregate and isolate the entire South and to sort of Alinsky it. You know, the Rules for Radicals, you seek the target, you isolate it, you attack it, humiliate it. This flag represents what the left believes is the last remaining Republican electoral stronghold in terms of presidential politics, and that would be the South. So this is an effort going far beyond the Confederate flag or the battle flag of the army of northern Virginia.

This flag represents to the left a symbol of everything that’s wrong with not just South Carolina, but North Carolina, Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama, you name it. And that’s what the objective here really is. And that’s why when Republicans make these efforts to appease, to please, and even if they think they’re doing the right thing, it never is enough, and it’s never genuine, and it’s never accepted, or very rarely is it accepted. Very rarely do the Republicans seeking to gain political points with their opponents or their enemies actually pull that off by acceding to their demands.

So just keep a sharp eye on this because you’ll see, even after the flag comes down, it’s not gonna be the end of this. After the flag comes down, after the flag is removed, you’re gonna continue to hear what it stands for, what it stood for, how rotten it is and how even though it’s gone, you can bet they will report that Southerners all across this country in heart and in mind and even geographically will be displaying the flag in their homes and on their cars with bumper stickers and so forth. Just keep a sharp eye. ‘Cause I’m telling you the flag is a symbol and it’s symbol to the left, and it represents a far more wide reaching objective than just getting the flag removed from public view.