A Different World

Reports say Gov. Haley and Sen. Graham will call for Confederate flag removal; General Assembly makes final decision

Updated:

Sen. Lindsey Graham expected to join Gov. Nikki Haley’s call to remove Confederate flag

Updated:

Multiple people are saying Gov. Haley will talk about a plan to get the flag removed. Wow.

Related: For those who don't know much about South Carolina history:

For about 6 decades, from the 1920s to the 1980s, the S.C. history book used in our public schools was written by a woman named Mary C. Simms Oliphant - the daughter of a Confederate general.

In the book, she wrote about happy slaves, and with sympathy for the KKK, and little to nothing about iconic black South Carolinians such as Denmark Vesey. A columnist for the Charleston City Paper did a really good job of summing up a lot of this:

Ben Tillman was a racist, terrorist, and murderer: It's time to take down his statue

Earlier:

Related: Second GOP lawmaker calls for flag’s removal

Gov. Haley’s office just sent out this terse message:

Gov. Nikki Haley to Deliver Remarks

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Governor Nikki Haley will deliver remarks in the second floor lobby of the S.C. Statehouse in between the House chamber and Senate chamber today, Monday, June 22 at 4:00 PM.

WHO: Gov. Nikki Haley

WHAT: Remarks by Gov. Nikki Haley

WHEN: Today, Monday, June 22 at 4:00 PM

WHERE: Statehouse, second floor lobby, Columbia, S.C.

Does that mean she’ll be addressing the growing debate about the Confederate flag on Statehouse grounds?

If she does, here’s a few things to consider.

My thoughts from the weekend:

Here's why the removal of the Confederate flag would be a miracle:

The 'compromise' of 2000 included a law that made it impossible for South Carolina's governor to remove the flag alone; it requires a super majority of both chambers of the General Assembly.

Republicans are the least likely group in the state to want it removed, and there are plenty of white people here who simply don't care enough about the issue to make it a priority, and plenty of black people who've given up on even the possibility that it could be done.

The GOP has essentially had control of the state for the past quarter century, which means that a majority, or near majority, of Republicans would have to vote to remove it - and that hasn't happened even though powerful outfits such as the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce years ago said it should be removed because they know it is hurting the state's image.

If that doesn't drive the point home, think about this: There has only been one Democrat in the governor's mansion since I began high school, Jim Hodges. And it is widely known in the state that likely happened because of what the Republican governor before him did.

Gov. Beasley, during his first term, said God told him to get the flag removed. Yes, a Christian, Republican governor in a state on the buckle of the Bible Belt invoked his sincerely-held religious beliefs to argue for the removal of the flag. The response?

He was booted out of office after one term - making room for a one-term Hodges administration - the only time that has happened to a Republican governor since I've been in high school.

When Lindsey Graham suggests the flag represents the residents of this state, he sincerely believes that - because for flag supporters, black people are largely invisible on this issue. "True" Southerners, in their minds, mean white people who have a fondness either for the Confederacy or those who fought for the South in the Civil War.

The people who support the flag don't care about the reality that moving it from Statehouse grounds - public property that represents us all - would not preclude them from loving up on that flag in their private lives any way they like. State-sponsored approval of that flag is their main goal, consequences be damned.

Could big business put enough pressure on the state to make it happen? Maybe. Just know that if that happens, it would be nothing short of a miracle, despite all the emotional talk in the aftermath of the Charleston shooting.

Here’s what happened the last time a Republican South Carolina governor spoke out against the flag:

The Sun News, Feb. 24, 1997

SLED: Flag rhetoric threatening, security boosted for Beasley

The Associated Press

State authorities have stepped up security for Gov. David Beasley and state Education Superintendent Barbara Nielsen because of angry words from those upset about a push to move the Confederate flag off the Statehouse, a newspaper reported Sunday.

State Law Enforcement Division Chief Robert Stewart viewed a fax to Beasley shortly after the Republican governor announced the flag effort as an implied threat, The (Columbia) State reported.

``Traitor,'' ``scalawag,'' ``despicable'' and ``disgusting'' were some of the words used in the fax, allegedly from a group calling itself the Dixie Defenders. But an organizer of the group denies they sent the fax.

Authorities are concerned about an atmosphere of hate as the battle over the flag heats up. Beasley has proposed moving the flag from the Capitol dome to a nearby statue.

Nielsen, who has publicly supported Beasley's effort, has been vilified at many pro-flag rallies. She said a hand-delivered letter she received ``discussed'' wanting to kill her, Beasley and other public figures who support taking the flag off the dome.

Stewart's agents closely watch and photograph the flag rallies to track Ku Klux Klan members and other extremists who show up.

``From a public-safety standpoint, we have to do everything we can to see that nobody gets hurt,'' Stewart said.

Stewart's decision to keep watch paid off Oct. 27, when photos agents took the day before at a South Congaree pro-flag rally turned up the faces of two young Klansmen suspected of shooting black teen-agers at a nightclub.

Those photos helped convince Lexington County Sheriff James Metts that the Klansmen were prodded into violence by the rhetoric at the flag rally.

Ben Sinclair, a local chairman for the Council of Conservative Citizens who organized that rally, said he can't stop Klansmen from attending his rallies. He insists his group has no connection to the Klan and knows nothing of the two Klansmen charged in the shooting.

Tony Carr, chairman of the S.C. Heritage Preservation Association and one of the Dixie Defenders, said there are no violent or extremist connections to their efforts.

He welcomed SLED's undercover agents at public pro-flag events. ``We have nothing to hide. We're a love group.''

Known Klansmen have attended virtually every pro-flag rally since the October shooting of the black teen-agers. None of the rally organizers has publicly announced that Klan members and other extremists are not welcome.

Joe Roy, director of Klanwatch at the Southern Poverty Law Center in Alabama, points to the Council of Conservative Citizens as an example of what concerns Klanwatch. Even though leaders of the council disavow the Klan and extremist groups, many council members have ties to such groups, he said.

Attending a pro-flag rally when the General Assembly convened last month were several known Klansmen and John Howard, owner of the Redneck Shop in Laurens, which has ties to the Keystone Knights, a Pennsylvania-based Klan group.

Barry Black, the Imperial Wizard of the Keystone Knights, showed up several weeks later at a pro-flag rally in Anderson sponsored by the Council of Conservative Citizens.

Sinclair focuses the debate on the flag and what he says is Beasley's reversal on the flag position.

``David Beasley lied to help get elected governor. God is not the author of lies. Satan is the author of lies,'' he said.

During his campaign, Beasley said he supported the flag staying atop the Statehouse dome, but would support a reasonable compromise.

The Republican governor's signature is among the 40,000 signatures on Sinclair's huge pro-flag petition. He signed it during the 1994 effort to keep the flag above the dome. The group brings it to many of its rallies.

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The Sun News, Dec. 12, 1996

Ministers oppose Beasley’s flag plan; group says move is dividing church

By Jesse J. Holland ,The Associated Press

Several white ministers on Wednesday urged Gov. David Beasley to stop calling for the removal of the Confederate battle flag from atop the Statehouse, saying he had abandoned his moral positions and was splitting the church by bringing morality and religion into the debate.

Sixteen ministers from across the state also presented an eight-page paper titled ``The Moral Defense of the Confederate Flag'' to state Rep. Dan Cooper, R-Piedmont, at the Statehouse complex.

The pastors, who said other ministers will gather Thursday to support Beasley's plan, oppose the governor's packaging his proposal as a moral or religious issue.

``The views we are expressing are the dominate view in the Christian community,'' said the Rev. Bobby Eubanks of Ridge Baptist Church in Summerville.

Eubanks, along with Christopher Sullivan of the S.C. Sons of Confederate Veterans and the Rev. Terry Rude, the group's chaplain, said Beasley has split the Republican Party and the state.

``And now, by seeking to recruit church leaders, he is driving a wedge in the body of the church,'' Eubanks said.

Cooper and the ministers said Beasley was elected in 1994 by promising to battle abortion and South Carolina's other moral crises with his ``Putting Families First'' campaign.

``Please tell me how the Confederate flag being removed from the Statehouse is now more important than the lives of unborn children to you?'' Cooper asked.

``We urge (Beasley) to return to that agenda, rather than wasting his moral and political capital on the Confederate battle flag,'' Eubanks said.

Beasley spokeswoman Ginny Wolfe called the news conference a smoke screen to divert attention from the real issue -- racial unity.

``What the governor said during the campaign was that he supported flying the flag, but that he would also support a reasonable compromise,'' Wolfe said. ``He believes his proposal is a reasonable compromise, and this is something that needs to be resolved now.''

Tom Turnipseed, lawyer for Gary Jones, one of three black teens allegedly shot by two white men with Ku Klux Klan ties outside a Pelion nightclub, said the Confederate flag represents white supremacy and Jones' shooting was ``the straw that breaks the camel's back.''

Beasley mentioned the shooting in his televised speech explaining why he proposed moving the flag.

``(Jones') suffering is the reason why the flag is going to be taken down,'' Turnipseed said, adding that ``the good Christians in Germany supported Adolf Hitler, too.''

Turnipseed also called for an investigation of the Dixie Defenders, whose radio ad urges people to call the governor's office and complain about his alliance with ``extreme multiculturalists who would destroy our heritage.''

He accused the group of circulating a fax saying the National Council of Churches' Emergency Conference on Racism, held here in October, would cause a ``racial division that most likely would end in violence.''

``We need to know who these people are and who's financing them,'' Turnipseed said.

Two other organizations plan public campaigns against Beasley's flag plan -- the S.C. Heritage Coalition and the Southern Heritage Association.

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