To compound the impact of the flag’s controversy even further, the South Carolina state house has left the Confederate flag at full-staff, while the US and South Carolina flags have been lowered to half-staff, even while memorials are held in front of the building. This legislative decision affirms the 15 years of collective advocacy of the NAACP on both the national and state level to bring down the flag, in particular our 15 year economic boycott of the state that was joined by the NCAA and UAW. Hilliard said she believes there was more to it than a centennial celebration. I viewed the flag as a symbol of Dixie, the Old South, sweet-smelling magnolia trees and, of course, the consummate soldier, Gen. Robert E. Lee – all of the romanticism, and none of the bloodshed, either in the cotton fields or on the battlefields.
Walker is the first high-profile presidential candidate to campaign in South Carolina since the Civil War era battle flag was removed from the Statehouse grounds last Friday.
Before that it had flown since 1961 atop the domed roof of the legislature in the southern state where the Civil War erupted in 1861.
Recalling a conversation she had with Walker about the flag after the church attack, Haley said she told him, “If you have any uncomfortable things, we’ll help you get through it, but I’m going to take care of this”. Just 18 percent of whites and 31 percent of Hispanics saw it as a symbol of “racial prejudice against African Americans or others”, compared to 72 percent for African Americans. “I don’t actually think anyone buys these with racist thoughts, but I guess the flag has become a symbol of this recently”. But what they’re forgetting is that the number of foreign-born people in the United States is at an all-time high, now at 40 million, and 44 percent of all foreign-born people are naturalized citizens and eligible to vote.
She was asked about the historic removal of the Confederate battle flag and was touted as an up and comer, the new face of the Republican Party, perhaps to be on a future national ballot.
“The Confederate flag is a symbol that you do associate with the South of America”.
Southerners, South Carolinians in particular, never could quite get over the Union Army’s “invasion” of the Confederate states, it seemed.
The flag fight has more rounds to go.
As professors at Iowa State, Hilliard and McDonnell are ready to start talking with students about the controversy over the Confederate flag, using it as a baby step into the bigger issues of inequity and racism.
As she spoke, I was reminded of something once said by the philosopher George Santayana, who observed, “Loyalty to our ancestors does not include loyalty to their mistakes”. “But it’s only the first step”, O’Brien said.