Major Politicians Change Their Minds About the Confederate Flag

June 22nd 2015

Alex Mierjeski

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) is calling for the state to remove the Confederate flag from its place on the state capitol grounds, adding to a developing story that erupted after a shooting killed nine in a historically black church in Charleston last week. The alleged shooter seems to have been motivated by white supremacy, a sentiment that is often expressed with the Confederate flag.

The announcement came in the form of a press conference Monday afternoon, where Haley called on lawmakers to remove the flag from the state house grounds, saying that she would take extraordinary action to make sure the task was completed in a timely manner.

"Our state is grieving, but we are also coming together," she said in front of a large groups of lawmakers and advocates. "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."

Haley's remarks were followed by long bouts of applause and cries of approval from the gathered crowd, but she was careful to emphasize the flag's importance to the cultural fabric of South Carolina. "For good or for bad, whether it is on the state house grounds or in a museum, the flag will always be a part of the soil of South Carolina. But this is a moment in which we can say that that flag, while an integral part of our past, does not represent the future of our great state."

The announcement came as the issue of the flag garners national attention in the wake of the seemingly blatant, racially motivated attack last week. Republican state Rep. Doug Brannon has pledged to introduce a bill to remove the flag, though passing it might not be easy, even with Haley's support. The state removed the flag from the capitol dome in 2000 and moved it to a nearby Confederate Civil War memorial following protests over its prominence. The compromise that led to the move included a provision that says the flag can only be taken down by a super majority vote from the legislature.

Although the legislative calendar is closed for the year, Haley said that she would use her authority as governor to call a special session in which the legislature can vote to remove the flag.

"My hope is that by removing a symbol that divides us, we can move forward as a state in harmony and we can honor the nine blessed souls who are now in heaven," she said.

Haley's announcement is an about face. Just last fall, in a debate, Haley said that the flag, although a source of tension in the state, did not necessarily require removal.

"What I can tell you is over the last three and a half years, I spent a lot of my days on the phones with CEOs and recruiting jobs to this state,” Haley said at a debate last year. “I can honestly say I have not had one conversation with a single CEO about the Confederate flag.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham, a presidential candidate, has also changed his position on the flag.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R), who is running for president, also attended the press conference. While he did not speak, he issued a statement afterwards. "I hope that, by removing the flag, we can take another step towards healing and recognition - and a sign that South Carolina is moving forward," Graham said, according NBC News.

This is a slightly different tune from what he stated three days prior on CNN's "New Day."

"At the end of the day it's time for people in South Carolina—to revisit that decision would be fine with me, but this is part of who we are. The flag represents to some people a Civil War and that was the symbol of one side. To others it's a racist symbol, and it's been used by people, it's been used in a racist way. But the problems we have in South Carolina and throughout the world are not because of a movie or a symbol, it's because of what's in people's heart. You know, how do you go back and reconstruct America? What do we do in terms of our history?"

South Carolina's other U.S. Senator, Tim Scott, is also in favor of the flag's removal

South Carolina's Sen. Tim Scott (R) has also come out in favor of removing the flag.

Scott was initially mum on the issue.

"There's no doubt that South Carolina has a rich and provocative history. And that flag is a part of the history. And for some, that flag represents that history. And for so many others, it represents a pain and oppression," Scott, one of two African Americans serving in the Senate, told CBS News on Sunday. "I am going to make sure that I'm a part of that conversation. My voice will be clear. My position will be stated. ... I have made the commitment to waiting till after the funeral to start that debate. And I'm going to honor that commitment."

For more about the controversy surrounding the Confederate flag in South Carolina, check out this video:

The Controversy Over the Confederate Flag in South Carolina

There's a growing movement to highlight the absurdity of the Confederate flag in South Carolina...

Posted by ATTN: on Friday, June 19, 2015