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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Confederate flag is on its way out.

The South Carolina Senate voted 37-3 today to remove the flag from the statehouse grounds, where it has flown in its current location for 15 years. The vote now moves to the state’s House of Representatives, and if it passes there, the bill will go to Republican governor Nikki Haley for her signature. She has affirmed that she will sign it.

In the aftermath of the racially motivated Charleston massacre at “Mother Emanuel” on June 17, photographs of shooter Dylann Roof circulated widely, depicting him draped in the Confederate flag and displaying emblems of segregationist governments. Haley announced on June 22 that she wanted the flag to come down, after years of pressure from the business community and speaking to constituents horrified by the shooting.

The Confederate flag, which became a token of Southern heritage after World War II, was removed from the dome of the South Carolina Statehouse in 2000 after a compromise that ended years of debate.

In the past few weeks, there has been a renewed call to remove the flag from public grounds entirely and put it in a museum, and a symbol that had long been problematic (but, at least for many voters, an anemic issue) became a linchpin for issues of social progress and racism.

Residents in Mississippi had voted in the past to keep the emblem on state flags as recently as 2001. Haley herself had said it was a non-issue when asked about it during campaign season.

Yet with so much acrimony surrounding the flag — against a backdrop of discussions of endemic racism and inequality — many lawmakers quickly affirmed their support for removing it from the state Capitol completely, where it has been since 1962.

This week, the South Carolina Senate rejected an amendment to the proposal that would allow voters to decide whether the flag would stay, as well as an amendment that would fly the flag on Confederate Memorial Day, which South Carolina celebrates every May 10.

Other proposals entertained by South Carolina Republicans included using alternate Confederate flags, ones that aren’t as recognizable as the Confederate Battle Flag, as the “Stars and Bars” is officially known. But many, including Democrats, business leaders, and Haley, agree that such a halfhearted measure wouldn’t solve anything.

Some Republicans don’t want to see the long history of the flag be reduced to one event.

“I’m more against taking it down in this environment than any other time just because I believe we’re placing the blame of what one deranged lunatic did on the people that hold their Southern heritage high,” said State Sen. Lee Bright, a Republican, to the Associated Press.

Activists calling for the removal of the flag — and some in support of it — circled the statehouse as the vote took place. The vote is expected to continue in the Senate Tuesday; if the bill passes, the flag could come down as soon as Thursday.

Photo: The Confederate flag, as it stands in South Carolina’s Capitol in Columbia. Jimmy Emerson DVM/Flickr

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  • Dominick Vila

    I guess we should all be thankful that after a century and a half the people of South Carolina finally realized they lost the war. One of the most bizarre statements I heard was a comment made by a South Carolina elected official who said that he was unaware the Confederate flag was such an offensive symbol to so many people! The only way to listen to some of their excuses without bursting out laughing is to redefine terms such as disingenuous and cynicism.
    I suspect that most of us understand why Southerners respect and honor the Confederate flag. For that reason, nobody has called for the banning of the Confederate flag. What has been proposed, and is finally happening, is that a symbol often associated with slavery is being taken down from government institutions and replaced with the flag of the USA. Those who want to honor their ancestors and their heritage can do so freely in any Southern museum or in their houses.

  • Little do people realize, or maybe just flat out don’t want to admit it, that symbols in society have always had a direct and powerful influence on people. Some symbols send signs of hope and a sense of reconciliation. On the other hand, the Confederate Flag sends a message of divisiveness, hate, an incitement to riot and lynch(think about the man-made concept/symbol of “White Womanhood” which is indirectly tied into the message the flag conveys), and is a vivid reminder of a devastating Civil War that cost the lives of nearly a million on the battlefield, destroyed families, and wreaked havoc on a region’s economy. Is that something any sane person would want to be reminded of on a daily basis? Only a glutton for mental punishment would welcome and relish such an ordeal.

    Therefore, to distract attention for what the Confederate Flag stands for and say its just an idyllic icon which wistfully reminds people of the good old days, is only a feeble attempt to hide the obvious.

    • tdm3624

      Folks can pat themselves on the back and feel like they did something to combat racism, while the conditions of Black Americans in SC remain the same today with the flag up as it will be tomorrow when the flag comes down.

  • Godzilla

    So whats next, the American Flag? It was flying proud during the Civil War while people as far North as Maine owned slaves. With only 5% of the Southern States population owning slave pre-civil war, this whole line of crap is a made up construct of a group of weak minded people with no true understanding of history. But, WTF, why let truth and facts interfere with the Liberal agenda. I would rather see the “Stars and Bars” than the Democrat jacka$$ emblem any day. One stood for rebellion against an oppressive government vs. one that supports that same oppressive government. The whole liberal ideology is based on lies and untruths about history, not to mention the outright LIEs from your Messiah N Chief.