On the Charleston Shootings and the Confederate Flag — and Some Links for Following the Debate

2015 06 24 flag

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley said Monday that the Confederate flag should be taken down.

That comes, of course, after a white man, in a racist attack last week, killed nine African-Americans at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. Photos uncovered later showed him embracing the Confederate flag.

That banner — which South Carolina hoisted in 1961, in the middle of the civil rights movement — represents to so many of the state’s citizens racism, hate, violence and subjugation.

What about those who say the flag symbolizes pride in the South’s history, that it represents “heritage, not hate,” as the saying goes?

At The Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates points out that South Carolina’s secession from the union — which kicked off the Civl War, of course — was centered on the very institution of slavery. In the state’s own language at the time:

A geographical line has been drawn across the Union, and all the States north of that line have united in the election of a man to the high office of President of the United States, whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery. He is to be entrusted with the administration of the common Government, because he has declared that that “Government cannot endure permanently half slave, half free,” and that the public mind must rest in the belief that slavery is in the course of ultimate extinction.

Many are saying now that it’s time to move on, at long last.

In Columbia, a two-thirds vote in the House and Senate are required for the flag to be taken down. The (Charleston) Post and Courrier quotes Haley as saying that if the two bodies don’t debate the issue summer, she’ll call them back into session to do so.

Now, following the shootings, an issue that for years has seemed settled — that the flag will continue to fly — is up for debate. And things seem to be moving quickly.

Just yesterday, The Post and Courrier reported:

Proponents of removing the flag could have an uphill climb. A Post and Courier survey of state lawmakers — predominately Republicans who control the House and Senate — found there is no consensus that the flag has to go, with many saying it’s too soon after the tragedy to act.

And today:

A Post and Courier poll shows the state Senate is within striking distance of having a majority in favor of removing the Confederate flag from the Statehouse grounds. Support appears strong in the House, as well.

Here are a few sites to keep an eye on as things develop.

In a feature I love for its simplicity, the Post and Courrier is asking every member of the legislature where they stand on the flag, and posting the results in real time.

Meanwhile, in the Lowcountry, the Beaufort Gazette/Island Packet is collecting statements from Beaufort legislators:

While five local legislators have come out in support of removing the Confederate flag from the statehouse grounds, three others have remained quiet on the issue.

In Columbia, The State newspaper has also been covering the issue.

Stay tuned.

Published by Newley

Hi. I'm Newley Purnell. I cover technology and business for The Wall Street Journal. I use this site to share my stories and often blog about the books I'm reading, tech trends, sports, travel, and our dog Ginger. For updates, get my weekly email newsletter.

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