photo via Newsweek
Forgive me if I’m feeling a bit proud of South Carolina, and its politicians today, but late yesterday we saw a little of what could be done, here and around this country, if both sides, Democrat and Republican, come together.
With bipartisan support from our state politicians, and our representatives in Washington, Governor Nikki Haley finally called for removal of the Confederate flag that flies over the State Capitol grounds. And while it's a little sad, a little disgusting, that nine people had to be gunned down before this issue became truly important, and truly worth fighting for, and truly worth discussing, but let’s stay positive.
“We are not going to allow this symbol to divide us any longer. The fact that people are choosing to use it as a sign of hate is something we cannot stand.” — Nikki Haley
It’s been fifteen years since the last time South Carolina lawmakers waged a serious fight over that flag; back then it was a decidedly partisan issue, with conservatives and Republicans defending the flag as a symbol of the state’s history, and waging a battle that saw the flag removed from atop the capitol but stationed atop a flagpole of capitol grounds. But yesterday Nikki Haley stood alongside fellow Republicans, and conservatives, Senators Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott, and Representative Mark Sanford, to finally say it’s time to move on.
“Today, we are here in a moment of unity in our state, without ill will, to say it’s time to move the flag from the Capitol grounds.”
Sure, Haley, Scott and Graham failed to take a side in the days following the shooting, most notably with Graham flip-flopping from “this is who we are” to the more sane response, that “in light of what has happened, that has to be revisited” because the suspect in the shooting — and I will not ever mention his name because he deserves no fame or notoriety here — is closely “associated with the flag.”
Of course, removing the flag isn’t as easy as having a group of politicians stand in a church and demand it; this year’s regular legislative session has ended, and though it will meet again tomorrow, the resolution authorizing that session limits it to a discussion of certain matters, and amending the resolution to add the flag to the agenda would require a two-thirds vote of both houses of the General Assembly. But Governor Haley said that if the General Assembly did not act soon, she would call it back into session yet again, specifically to address the flag question.
Still, as we saw today, and as we heard today, both sides seem clear: it’s time to take down that flag. And let’s hope that rational minds prevail; that our lawmakers fully understand that the Confederate flag may still be flown, anywhere in the state, by anyone who chooses, but it should no longer stand on state property.