But for many, the argument over whether to pull the stars and bars permanently remains rooted in a deeper divide: Is it a symbol of Southern heritage or enduring hate?
According to a South Carolina law, Gov. Nikki Haley has authority over when state flags fly and how high, but not over the Confederate Flag which can only be altered by the state’s General Assembly.
On Wednesday evening, nine people were shot and killed at Emanuel AME, an historic black church in South Carolina.
The Confederate flag now flies above the state capital, a point of controversy due to the apparent racial motives of Roof. “And if that flag had been there since Reconstruction, I would be on that side”. This state is the ideological home of white supremacy in this country.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) of South Carolina said the flag is not the issue.
In that light, note that, days earlier, the United States Supreme Court ruled that Texas can ban the Confederate flag from its vanity plates.
“Because of where it is located, this is not a free-speech, individual issue”. His call for removal is not surprising, considering in a 2008 debate he said the flag “shouldn’t be flown”, adding that it’s “not a flag [he] recognize[s]”. “This is not a history lesson”. Even if Haley could order it lowered, it’s not clear that she would; in the past, she’s actually defended keeping the flag on state grounds, reassuring voters that it’s done nothing to harm the state’s image.
A poll conducted in 2011 found that far more Americans feel negatively about the flag than see it as a positive symbol. We need you to take down that flag.
“The Confederate flag is not a symbol of Southern pride but rather a symbol of rebellion and racism”, Karen Hunter, the petition’s creator, wrote. The best tutorial we can offer comes from Zell Miller in 1993, during his failed attempt to remove the Confederate battle emblem from the Georgia state flag. He once deemed removing the flag from the Statehouse as “cultural genocide”.
Mr. Graham said “it would be fine” if the people of South Carolina chose to revisit the Confederate flag, but argued that the symbol represents a “part of who we are”. In just a small over 24 hours, it’s collected over 334,000 signatures-and that number is rising, fast.