The Confederate Flag Debate Is Back!
November 19, 2009
Just like that, the on-again, off-again debate about the Confederate flag is back “on.”
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mullins McLeod has poured gasoline on the highly-flammable subject by including the flag’s removal from the State House grounds in his jobs plan, which was unveiled Thursday.
“It is time for us to send a clear and unambiguous signal to the rest of the country, and the entire world, that South Carolina is better than what people see on the news, and that we are ready to make progress,” McLeod said in a statement announcing his plan. “By agreeing to move past this old argument once and for all, we will be telling the world that South Carolina is ready to lead again.”
McLeod wants to take the flag off the State House grounds and place it in a museum.
In 2000 – after a long and bitter debate – a bipartisan, multiracial coalition of state lawmakers agreed to remove the flag from the State House dome and place it behind a Confederate soldiers’ monument on the State House grounds. The flag was also removed from the S.C. House and State Senate chambers as a part of that compromise, which included the creation of a Martin Luther King, Jr. and Confederate Memorial holiday.
Still, that wasn’t enough for the NAACP (or the NCAA), both of which are continuing to boycott South Carolina over the flag.
Flag supporters, by contrast, were largely pleased with the compromise, and printed up bumper stickers and T-shirts that read “Off the Dome and In Your Face.”
McLeod’s foray into the flag debate is noteworthy because it will likely force the other candidates in the 2010 governor’s race to take a position on the issue. For example, we can’t wait to see what GOP frontrunner Henry McMaster – who is a member of a “whites only” country club and debutante society – has to say on the subject.
The first serious push to remove the flag began in the mid-1990’s under the administration of Republican Governor David M. Beasley, who later claimed that God came to him in a dream and urged him to take the flag off of the State House dome.
Beasley’s support for removing the flag cost him dearly, however, as a “Keep The Flag, Dump Beasley” movement quickly gained steam and helped contributed to his 1998 defeat.