The White House made President Obama’s position clear on the Confederate flag Thursday, causing the media to question Republican presidential hopefuls to make their stance on the flag known.
Until 15 years ago, the stars and bars flew above South Carolina’s capitol dome in Columbia, when lawmakers reached a compromise, as CNN notes:
Back in 2000, civil rights activists successfully lobbied to have a much larger Confederate flag removed from the Capitol dome. But there was a compromise.
The South Carolina Heritage Act decreed that just about all other tributes to Confederate history would be virtually untouchable. The only way to change anything of that nature — including the smaller flag that was erected on the State House lawn — would be to gain the endorsement of two-thirds of lawmakers.
The news outlet also pointed out that even the height of its flagpole is regulated at 30 feet and does not have a pulley system. So unless lawmakers vote to take it down, it can only fly all the way up. The Confederate flag was also never the official flag of the Confederacy.
Discussion of the Confederate flag comes after Dylann Roof, a 21-year-old white man, allegedly shot and killed nine people at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) in Charleston, S.C. He faces nine counts of murder and possibly the death penalty. Roof is said to have racist tendencies.
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The Obama administration affirmed its position of the Confederate flag last week. “The president has said before he believes the Confederate flag belongs in a museum, and that is still his position,” White House spokesman Eric Schultz told reporters aboard Air Force One Friday, The Hill reported.
Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida, who is seeking the GOP presidential nomination, echoed Obama’s sentiments. “In Florida we acted, moving the flag from the state grounds to a museum where it belonged. This is obviously a very sensitive time in South Carolina and our prayers are with the families, the AME church community and the entire state. Following a period of mourning there will rightly be a discussion among leaders in the state about how South Carolina should move forward, and I’m confident they will do the right thing,” he said in a statement.
2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney called for the Palmetto State to take down the flag altogether, and Obama responded positively:
Good point, Mitt. https://t.co/Ryusfp8Xbh
— President Obama (@POTUS) June 21, 2015
Other Republicans wereMike Huckabee asked their thoughts on the Confederate flag.
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Over the weekend, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee was asked by Chuck Todd on NBC’s Meet the Press Sunday his thoughts on the Confederate flag, noting he does not display it anywhere but also that it is “an issue for the people of South Carolina.”
This is [a] state in that largely white people elected a female governor of Indian descent, and the first ever African-American United States senator from the south. They have more diversity in the people that they have elected to statewide office than New York, Connecticut or Massachusetts. There’s 4.8 million people in South Carolina. I don’t think you can say that presence of one lunatic racist…is somehow evidence of the people of South Carolina.
Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum also deferred to states rights in an interview on ABC’s This Week: “I would say that these are decisions that should be made by people. I don’t think the federal government or federal candidates should be making decisions on everything, and opining on everything. This is a decision that needs to be made here in South Carolina.”
What do you think about the Confederate flag? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.