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Maybe it's problematic after all

Seems like only yesterday, Republicans were afraid to follow in the footsteps of Mitt Romney and tell South Carolina to take down its Confederate flag. Who’s to say the flag is hate, not heritage? (Everyone.) And now isn’t the right time for that discussion anyway. (Yes it is.) And South Carolina doesn’t need the rest of the country, especially not presidential candidates, telling it what to do. (Clearly, it does.) And, as South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham has said, the state’s compromise — to fly the flag and have a memorial for African Americans — works JUST FINE. (Uh huh.)

Not a single Republican presidential candidate was willing to say “take down the flag,” and as for the state’s governor? Well, in the last few days, Nikki Haley has conceded the issue is worth revisiting, although prior to the massacre of nine African Americans in their church by confessed killer and white supremacist Dylann Roof, Haley had assured voters the flag was not an issue, because no CEO had ever complained to her about it, and besides, the state ended racism by electing her.

But that was then. And everything’s different now. In a press conference on Monday, Gov. Haley said that for many South Carolinians, the flag “stands for traditions that are noble,” but to others, it is a symbol of hate, and “the events of this past week call upon us to look at this in a different way.” To great cheers and applause, the governor then declared: “It’s time to move the flag from the capitol grounds.”

Haley also said “the flag will always be a part of the soil of South Carolina” and urged those who will undoubtedly feel real sad, should the Republican legislature vote to remove the flag, to kindly get over it because “150 years after the Civil War, the time has come.” She concluded:

July Fourth is just around the corner. Soon, we will once again celebrate the birth of our nation and of our freedoms. It will be fitting that our state capitol will soon fly the flag of our country and our state, and no others.

Damn right, governor. Glad you finally realized that. And she’s not the only one who has evolved on the issue:

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a candidate for president who just last week defended his home state’s use of the Confederate flag, also will call for it to be removed, according to a source familiar with his decision.

Amazing what a few days of non-stop “Just how stupid are you, Senator?” criticism will do to make a guy realize that the compromise isn’t working so great after all. Although Graham’s willingness to reconsider the issue — “because the shooter is so associated with the flag” — indicates he’s still plenty stupid. The Charleston shooting is not the worst association with the flag, just the most recent.

And here’s Jeb! Bush, the courageous Republican who on Saturday hinted that perhaps the flag should be removed, as it was in Florida when he was governor, but he couldn’t quite bring himself to say that because Jeb is now perpetually terrified of giving the wrong answer to simple questions. Until today:

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We remain in awe of Jeb’s evolution, from his certainty that we could not possibly know what motivated the killer, to his uncertainty about whether it was racial, to his declaration that he’s heartbroken about this act of “a racist.”

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who’d refused to say whether the Confederate flag was a symbol of racism, or what South Carolina should do about it, has also evolved overnight:

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It’s nice to see that Republicans, having slept on it, realize it’s OK to call for removal of the Confederate flag. As they should. Whether South Carolina’s GOP-controlled legislature will vote to remove the flag is unknown, although with enough national outcry, perhaps even those who are currently opposed to removing it will also come around eventually. While it’s a goddamned shame it took the murder of nine people for proud Southern Republicans to be willing to admit the flag of their oh-so-proud “heritage” is, shall we say, problematic, we suppose better late than never. Guess we’ll give them a medal for their courageous evolution. A very small one.

[The Post and Courier / The Hill]

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