Nikki Haley and Lindsey Graham To Call For Removal of Confederate Flag

Later this afternoon South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley will announce her support for the removal of the Confederate flag from the state house grounds in Columbia. Lindsey Graham will also make the same announcement after his earlier and even expected waffling. Additional calls for its removal have come from other state politicians as well as the president of the University of South Carolina.

It should come as no surprise that I applaud this move and even consider it a courageous decision. Republicans and other conservative voices will have to deal with the fallout from their constituents who continue to identify with the flag.

But make no mistake: It is the right decision.

While many are calling for the removal of Confederate monuments and the elimination of holidays in honor of Lee and Jackson and even the changing of streets it is the flag on public ground that deserves our attention right now.

I’ve received a number of emails and blog comments pointing out that the Confederate flag ought not be our primary focus. I’ve heard that flags don’t kill people and so on. Such platitudes entirely miss the relevant historical context that connects Dylan Roof’s violence and racial ideology with the very symbol that was used to sanction violence and racism by the state of South Carolina.

The current controversy surrounding the Confederate flag in Columbia has its roots in the civil rights movement and resistance to integration. When that flag went up atop the state house in the early 1960s the government of South Carolina thereby sanctioned its use by whites throughout the state and beyond as part of their resistance to demands by black Americans for freedom and equal rights. The flag atop the capitol signaled to the rest of the world that South Carolina intended to remain a white man’s government in the name of white supremacy.

This history is available to anyone who is interested. Up until this past Wednesday it was easy to offer meaningless gestures of “Heritage Not Hate” or political compromise in support of the flag as a way to avoid these essential truths. And the very politicians responsible for this political spin are now falling into line having failed to find a way into the clear in order to satisfy certain constituents.

The Confederate flag originally went up in the name of hate and white supremacy. Dylan Roof killed in its name by wrapping himself in the very same flag. Remove it with the same love that has brought Charlestonians and others together over the past few days.

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35 comments… add one
  • David Jun 24, 2015 @ 16:09

    I saw the same interview Annette. I just caught the tail end of it, but he was ranting on about 25,000 South Carolinian dying in the war, and how the flag had been stolen by the kkk, and every other white supremacist hate group. What I would like to ask him is why these groups decided on the confederate battle flag, as well as hitlers swastika as their emblems? At least the swastika’s original meaning was a symbol of good fortune in many cultures…… why the cbf? I don’t know who the fellow was, but I’d like to hear his reasons for such horrible groups wanting His flag…….

  • Annette Jackson Jun 23, 2015 @ 14:11

    I just saw some elderly man having a meltdown on the NBC Evening News..he was raving in defence of the flag and I thought he was going to have a stroke. A woman told me today that slaves should have been happy because ” they could sing and have a church” ….no, I did not make that up. I have to question her southern credentials because she thought to “have truck with” meant to own a pickup truck. Sigh. This nonsense is never going to end….

    • Andy Hall Jun 23, 2015 @ 15:31

      I have to question her southern credentials because she thought to “have truck with” meant to own a pickup truck.Bless her heart.

  • MarkS Jun 23, 2015 @ 11:13

    Kevin Levin writes:

    “I’ve heard that flags don’t kill people and so on. Such platitudes entirely miss the relevant historical context that connects Dylan Roof’s violence and racial ideology with the very symbol that was used to sanction violence and racism by the state of South Carolina.”

    Flags, in fact, don’t kill people. That point aside, what connects Dylan Roof’s violence to his racial ideology, as he explicitly stated in his manifesto, was his fury over black on white violence. Why you choose to deliberately ignore this is baffling. So while we grieve, quite properly, for the innocent victims of Roof’s shameful violence, let us also grieve for the hundreds and hundreds of innocent victims of who also perished as a result of shameful violence.

    • Pat Young Jun 23, 2015 @ 15:20

      Just another racist distractor.

  • Julian Jun 23, 2015 @ 8:36

    A major British art theorist and his thoughts upon the flag:

    “It is reasonable now to wonder if the Confederate flag is pure racist imagery, but its widespread cultural use would suggest it is more complicated than that. It also raises a bigger question. Is white southern identity itself something that needs to be abandoned or condemned? The proud cultural history of the south embraces everything from Jack Daniels and country music to the novels of William Faulkner and paintings of Cy Twombly – can that cultural richness be dismissed as archaic conservative nostalgia, or worse?”

  • fundrums Jun 23, 2015 @ 7:49

    As an individual who: wrote five Civil War books on the Confederacy, produced a documentary about a Confederate soldier, spoke to countless groups about the South’s wartime experiences, named his son after ‘Stonewall’ Jackson and has a vanity plate that says STOWNWL, I actually agree with removing the Confederate flag from the SC capitol and putting it in a museum so it can be properly interpreted. I would focus the story about this facsimile flag and its removal from the capitol as part of the display’s narrative. No one is saying to eliminate the Confederate battle flag from historical memory, just off of public grounds that represent the entire public that it serves. It’s not disrespecting anyone’s ancestors who fought under that flag. In fact, they wouldn’t appreciate all the commercialization and tacky t-shirts, shot glasses and bikinis that bear their flag. Wal-Mart is actually doing them a favor by pulling all the junk of their shelves that truly disrespects their heritage. It’s not about PC, or liberalism, or any other agenda for that matter. It’s simply about moving on. I understand the hesitation to change but it’s about time. And YES as stated above…it is sad that it required the murder of nine black Americans, 150 years after the death of slavery to institute a change.

  • John Betts Jun 23, 2015 @ 6:49

    Virginia Governor Terry McCauliffe has ordered the Confederate flag to be removed from license plates issued by the Commonwealth.

  • Leo Jun 23, 2015 @ 6:14

    Republican Speaker of the Mississippi House, Philip Gunn, has called for the Confederate flag to be removed as part of the Mississippi flag.

  • Bill Backus Jun 23, 2015 @ 4:43

    While I support the decision for the removal of the CBF from the state grounds, I find it incredibly sad that this the public discourse that our society has decided to have in the aftermath of this terrorist attack. With mass shootings taking place on an almost yearly basis in schools, movie theaters, and churches, I have trouble wrapping my head around the fact that instead of having a reasonable and well argued discussion on gun violence in this country, we are instead talking about the contentious symbolism of a piece of fabric.

    • Kevin Levin Jun 23, 2015 @ 4:46

      We can certainly have both and you are free to start s blog to lead the way instead of complaining about it.

      • lalypop01 Jun 23, 2015 @ 11:25

        Kevin, you are such an ass.

  • Andy Hall Jun 22, 2015 @ 19:43

    The Post & Courier in Charleston is doing a whip count of the votes in the South Carolina House and Senate:

    • Jimmy Dick Jun 23, 2015 @ 16:20

      Looks like they have enough votes since it will be decided by a simple majority. Note that every NO vote is a Republican and every one of the legislators that has not responded is also a Republican. This is one of those votes that will have consequences in the next election both good and bad. The heritage crew is going to try to couch their language and use a lot of terminology to double talk their way out of this, but the end result is not going to be in their favor. If anything, they’re going to be hard pressed to avoid the label of racist.

      They can make every claim in the world, but this is the kind of thing that causes people to experience transformative learning meaning that this is a major perception changing experience. It is not based upon factual learning, but upon emotional feeling surrounding belief structures. The fact that factual learning supports the emotional feeling associated with perception change means a major change in what people believe and think when they see symbols or encounter situations in which they had different beliefs about beforehand.

      I also wonder if South Carolina may be leading the pack yet again. It was the first state to secede in the Secession Winter and that triggered several other states to join in. If they are the first state to remove the rag and reject the racism associated with it, then will it trigger other states that are wavering to join in?

      • Andy Hall Jun 23, 2015 @ 17:29

        My understanding is, it takes a two-thirds vote to remove it permanently. However, both the South Carolina House and Senate voted overwhelmingly to open the debate, the Senate by voice vote and the House with over 100 “yeas.” So it’s moving forward.

  • Harold Summers. Jun 22, 2015 @ 19:11

    take it down.See if violent crimes stop.I’ve got one.The one my ancestors proudly fought for.You can’t get it Mr.Levin.

  • TF Smith Jun 22, 2015 @ 17:17

    We will welcome to our numbers the loyal, true and brave,
    Shouting the battle cry of freedom!
    And although they may be poor, not a man shall be a slave,
    Shouting the battle cry of freedom…

    The Union forever! Hurrah, boys, hurrah!
    Down with the traitors, up with the stars;
    While we rally round the flag, boys, we rally once again,
    Shouting the battle cry of freedom…

    Rest in peace the victims of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church; and to those who wore the uniform of the UNITED STATES forces, 1861-65, and all those who fought for the cause, these past 15 decades…

  • Leo Jun 22, 2015 @ 12:17

    Isn’t the purpose of the Confederate monument on the capitol grounds to honor the Confederate soldier? If so, there is no need for a flag at the monument.

    Take it down!

  • MSB Jun 22, 2015 @ 11:46

    Glad to see it go. But it’s a shame that this change seems to required the murder of 9 Americans, 150 years after the death of slavery.

  • Harold Cheetham Jun 22, 2015 @ 11:36

    I believe it needs to be left alone. it has been up all these years and it is not flying from the capitol it is next to a Confederate monument! if we let this happen it leaves anything Confederate or anything else someone considers racist to removal. my family fought on the Union side but a battle flag is not racist! it has been used by the KKK and others, but so hasn’t the American flag if you do a search. have seen many pics with the KKK parading down street with both flags. just because some one usues it for their agenda doesn’t make it racist. what next – the Cross?

    • Annette Jackson Jun 23, 2015 @ 6:16

      I don’t understand the idea that the “cross is next.” Where does that come from….we have a 1st Amendment that deals with that issue, a guarantee of religious freedom but also a guarantee that we will never have an official state religion either. There is a big difference between living in a country where the majority identify as Christians, and living in a Christian nation…we have the former but not the latter. That was by design of the authors of the Constitution, who had lived under the rule of a nation with an official church.

      • Andy Hall Jun 23, 2015 @ 8:34

        “I don’t understand the idea that the ‘cross is next.’ Where does that come from?”

        It comes from the same place that Bill O’Reilly’s shrieking about the “War on Christmas” does — a deep and abiding insecurity that requires constant affirmation and reinforcement that everyone believes the same things you do, or at least will have the decency not to talk about it so I can pretend otherwise.

        Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were made of much sterner stuff.

        • Jimmy Dick Jun 23, 2015 @ 12:44

          Just more of the fear factor to fire up the true believers. When facts prove you wrong, resort to linking what you believe to hard core religious beliefs in an attempt to legitimize your lies. That is exactly what the heritage crew is doing right now because the symbol of racism is going to come down one way or another.

          • Annette Jackson Jun 23, 2015 @ 14:42

            It was actually a rhetorical question, but thanks for replying. What I am finding that is equally disturbing, at least to me, is the huge amount of misinformation about our history that is driving so many of the people upset about the removal of the flag. I saw a statement today from a woman who firmly believes that most of the enslaved people were freed by southerners long before the war, and were all up north serving as slaves in 1861. Believe me, census records from 1860 had no impact on her belief. It was a case for her of who do you believe, me or your lying eyes looking at census records.

  • Boyd Harris Jun 22, 2015 @ 11:16

    I dare to say that this move will not hurt conservative support for Graham or Haley in SC. A small minority will complain, but on election day it will not matter to the majority of conservative voters. I believe, as you do Kevin, that this is a step in the right direction. That being said, a larger struggle still remains in this country over race. This is a good step in the right direction, but we must not lose momentum in the fight against inequality. The Battle Flag represents the institutionalization of racism in police forces, prisons, education systems, and employment throughout the country. Tearing it down is important, but at the end of the day it is just a piece of cloth. The real fight remains in front of us.

    • Kevin Levin Jun 22, 2015 @ 11:20

      Agree entirely.

      • Boyd Harris Jun 22, 2015 @ 11:57

        Just finished watching it. I would have not spent three solid minutes trying to placate racists, but I reckon that is why I am not in politics. Glad to see they are moving forward.

        • Kevin Levin Jun 22, 2015 @ 11:58

          She did a good job of riding the fence of Heritage v. Hate.

          • John Betts Jun 22, 2015 @ 13:33

            In fairness, I’m not convinced that everyone who holds the “heritage, not hate” position do so out of racism. Misguided though I believe them to be, I do think that some honestly do not view the flag as racist or problematic. The tone Haley struck was appropriate and to me it’s more important to have it removed than possibly spoil the opportunity to “score points”.

            • Andy Hall Jun 22, 2015 @ 16:31

              I’m not convinced that everyone who holds the “heritage, not hate” position do so out of racism. Misguided though I believe them to be, I do think that some honestly do not view the flag as racist or problematic.

              I used to think that, too.

              It’s 2015. The only way one can not understand why that particular emblem is problematic is by willful and deliberate avoidance of the real world.

              • John Betts Jun 22, 2015 @ 16:58

                That’s presuming everyone who holds such a view has done the research for themselves, resisting the powerful pull of family lore. To me, that’s the equivalent of political junkies who assume every citizen is as well-informed as they may be. Sorry, but I don’t buy it. Most people will listen to family over some “stranger” and if they feel like they or their kin are being attacked, will respond accordingly. For them the flag means something different than what you or I know from research. That we might take issue with this doesn’t change that fact.

  • John Betts Jun 22, 2015 @ 11:14

    Good. I’ve seen some reports that both Senators Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott will be with the governor at the Capitol grounds when this announcement is made officially. Guess we’ll see in a about a half hour or so…

    • Kevin Levin Jun 22, 2015 @ 11:24

      Scott will be there as well.

      • John Betts Jun 22, 2015 @ 13:30

        I saw that. I liked her speech and thought it was brilliant to have prominent Democrats with her, along with leading Republicans. Not only was this smart politically, but it was also appropriate. The SCV will have a tough time fighting this, which of course they’ve promised to do. It’s time for change and that flag has to come down from state Capitol grounds.

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