Regardless of her motives, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley solidified her status as a leader among Republicans nationwide when she called for the removal of the Confederate battle flag from the State House grounds in Columbia.
Haley’s pronouncement earlier this week was in response to protests waged in the Palmetto State following the shooting deaths of nine blacks in a church in downtown Charleston. Dylann Roof, a 21-year-old white male, was the gunman. He was previously photographed posing with the Confederate flag.
Not one individual has presented a compelling argument that ties the flying of the Confederate flag to Roof’s deranged behavior. That doesn’t seem to matter, though.
What seems to matter in the present is the murders of nine blacks in a state known for racial intolerance somehow occurred because the state of South Carolina has permitted the flying of the Confederate flag some 150 years since the end of the Civil War. One is left to believe the flag itself pulled the trigger.
Without a doubt, Haley was correct to call for pulling the Confederate flag from state property. In this day and age, no governing body — local, state or federal — should sanction the flying of the Confederate flag. It represents a very dark period in our nation’s history though its historical value is unmatched.
Once Franklin D. Roosevelt pushed the Democratic Party to begin paying lip service to black Americans, Republicans have played hell convincing blacks to vote Republican. The cause became impossible after Lyndon Baines Johnson shepherded the Great Society through the Congress and paved the way for the explosive growth of the welfare state. And ever since, Republicans can count on one hand the number of times the black vote catapulted a Republican into statewide office in the Deep South.
To suggest Republicans have an image problem in the black community would be an understatement. Toxic might be the better word.
That brings us back to Haley.
Haley’s decision to call for removing the Confederate flag won’t prompt blacks to abandon their party, but her actions signaled a shift in the GOP that’s been a long time coming. Let’s face it. Republicans will never recapture the White House until the party exhibits an ability to attract voters whose skin color doesn’t resemble Robert E. Lee’s. Giving up the flag should help to some degree in that regard.
There’s a slippery slope in all of this talk about the Confederate flag, too. That is society has become too reactionary. On this particular day we’re discussing removing a flag from public property because it’s offensive to some Americans and its mere presence is questionable among a majority of Americans.
The American flag? The Second Amendment to the Constitution? What about the Fourth Amendment? Or the Fifth Amendment?
Get the picture?
That’s a legitimate concern to raise since it’s clear in this corner that it’s not necessarily South Carolinians who are leading the charge to shape public opinion in South Carolina but liberal activists who appear to be on some sort of a crusade to impose their world view on middle America. Or what’s left of it.
Sam Hannah is a state political writer