There are a few stereotypes that, when placed under the cold light of history don’t pass the smell test. One is that those who display or own a Confederate flag are automatically racist, and another is that Republicans are by and large supporters of the flag and overwhelmingly racist themselves.
The first stereotype certainly has kernels of truth to it, and is a difficult subject to debate, as the topic of who is and who is not racist is largely subjective. The latter, however, can be easily dismissed with facts from the flag’s history, and Republicans’ relationship with it.
The Confederate Flag was first seen in South Carolina on February 10, 1938. Who was the Governor at the time? A Democrat, Olin Dewitt Talmadge Johnston.
Yesterday Republican Governor Nikki Haley, a woman of Indian descent (which goes against yet another stereotype, of Republicans being only old white men), made the decision to take it down. At a news conference she said, “It will be fitting our state will soon fly the flags of our country, of our state, and no other.” Before Haley made her announcement, a Republican lawmaker promised to introduce a bill to the state legislature to remove the flag.
Fellow Republicans like Mike Huckabee, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush have applauded the decision. The latter, a front-runner for the Republican nomination in 2016, has a deep history with the flag, established while Governor of the southern state of Florida. The Washington Post published a trove of angry emails Bush received while in office, long before the recent shooting in a historically black Christian church which spurred Haley’s decision to remove the flag from the State House.
The Post explains how yet another southern Republican governor (a white one at that) decided to remove the flag, much to the consternation of many constituents:
In early February 2001, Jeb Bush quietly ordered the removal from State Capitol grounds of “The Stainless Banner,” a mostly white flag that featured the Confederate battle flag design in the top left corner.
The flag flew outside the west entrance of the Capitol in Tallahassee with three other flags memorializing the history of the Sunshine State. Bush had decided to remove the flags in December 2000 — in the wake of a bitterly contested presidential campaign that featured both a primary season debate about the Confederate flag, and the protracted recount that resulted in his brother’s election as president. Two months later, they were gone.
Comment below: Do you think the flag should be removed from State Houses across the South?