Gov. Nikki Haley has called for the confederate battle flag that flies at the South Carolina statehouse to removed, following several days of heated debate across the country. The controversy over the flag’s presence reemerged as a major talking point after the race-driven Charleston church shooting.
“Some divisions are bigger than a flag,” said the Republican governor. “We are not going to allow this symbol to divide us any longer. The fact that people are choosing to use it as a sign of hate is something we cannot stand.”
While some believe the confederate flag (somehow) represents a gentle, proud heritage—as if people see the flag of the confederacy and dream of playing checkers and sipping mint juleps on some big porch—for many in South Carolina, as Haley pointed out, “The flag is a deeply offensive symbol of a brutally racist past.”
Though the South Carolina population remains divided, many local politicians are voicing their support for Haley’s decision, including Sen. Lindsey O. Graham and Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr.
Riley said, “When it is so often used as a symbol of hate, of defiance to civil rights, to equal rights, equality among the races, a symbol used by the Klan, a symbol you saw at every protest event during times of integration and racial progress, then, in front of the state Capitol, for those who harbor any of those kinds of feelings—and we hope they are very few—it nonetheless sends the wrong kind of message.”
This is not the glorious end of a process, though. This is just the beginning, as it will need to proceed through proper legal channels, and the General Assembly’s regular session has ended. It will meet again as of Tuesday, but there are limits to session discussions of certain matters. In order to add the flag to the agenda, a two-thirds vote of both houses is necessary.