(Analysis of a Continuing Tragedy)
It was not unexpected to hear President Obama blame the murders of nine Charleston church goers on guns and Southerners because of their history of slavery and “Jim Crow.”
It was surprising and extremely disappointing, however, to see South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley rush out on Monday and link the murders and the deranged murderer with the Confederate battle flag and the Palmetto State’s Southern Heritage.
Governor Haley can be forgiven for her ignorance of factual history, however it was below the dignity of her office to use this vicious tragedy to justify tramping on the memory of Southern patriots and scoring political points on the backs of native South Carolineans.
It appears that Governor Haley has created a steamroller effect and, therefore, there will be little or no opposition from the lawmakers. Southern Heritage groups have been blindsided and will have little opportunity to organize opposition.
A close look at the Governor’s words indicate that she attempted to sound fair to the people of South Carolina who honor their heritage, however, her mind was made up and there was no fairness in her decision. She had linked the flag to the murderer and to the future success of the state and the conclusion was it had to go, and those hurt by the decision would have to recognize that they lost again because they are on the losing side.
The Governor’s statement in part:
“For many people in our state, the flag stands for traditions that are noble. Traditions of history, of heritage, and of ancestry. The hate-filled murderer who massacred our brothers and sisters in Charleston has a sick and twisted view of the flag. In no way does he reflect the people in our state who respect, and in many ways, revere it.
“Those South Carolinians view the flag as a symbol of respect, integrity, and duty. They also see it as a memorial, a way to honor ancestors who came to the service of their state during a time of great conflict.
“That is not hate nor is it racism.
“At the same time, for many others in South Carolina, the flag is a deeply offensive symbol of a brutally oppressive past.
“As a state, we can survive, and indeed we can thrive, as we have done, while still being home to both of those viewpoints. We do not need to declare a winner and a looser. We respect freedom of expression, and for those who wish to show their respect for the flag on their private property, no one will stand in your way.
“But the Statehouse is different. And the events of the past week call upon all of us to look at this in a different way.
“Fifteen years ago, after much contentious debate, South Carolina came together in a bipartisan way to remove the flag from the Capitol dome.
“Today, we are here in a moment of unity in our state, without ill will , to say it is time to move the flag from the capitol grounds. One hundred fifty years after the end of the Civil War … the time has come.”
“The murderer – now locked up in Charleston – said he hoped his actions would start a race war. We have an opportunity to show that not only was he wrong, but that just the opposite is happening. My hope is that by removing a symbol that divides us, we can move our state forward in harmony, and we can honor the nine blessed souls who are now in Heaven.”
With good intentions, Governor Haley may have helped the murderer stir racial hatred. The removal of the battle flag from the dome to the Confederate Memorial was part of an elaborate agreement between the Democrats, Republicans, blacks and whites in the Legislature.
The late Senator J. Verne Smith had promised the UDC ladies in Greer that he would do all he could to keep the battle flag flying on the dome. When he agreed to the plan to move it to where it is now, he assured them that since the agreement included an elaborate memorial for African-Americans on the Capitol grounds that the flag would never be moved again.
Governor David Beasley said God woke him up one night and instructed him to take the flag from the Dome. He became a one term Governor. Governor Haley has not revealed any such divine guidance.