Word War Continues over Confederate Flag

NAACP Vows to Intensify Boycott

Given his opportunity to move South Carolina forward and bring untold millions to the state’s coffers through tourism and NCAA postseason events, Gov. Mark Sanford last week declined to take a role in removing the Confederate flag from the State House grounds.

Sanford balked even as more pressure is being mounted on state officials to remove a symbol that to many South Carolinians, and for that matter Americans, represents slavery, hate and discrimination.

Removing the flag, Sanford told The Associated Press, would take "a tremendous amount of political capital to try and open a compromise. This administration is not going to be doing that."

Sanford also told the AP that rather than address the Confederate flag, he will spend the remainder of his term on "the things that will make the biggest difference in people’s lives." Sanford’s comments came as the NAACP announced at its recent national convention that it was going to intensify its economic boycott of South Carolina. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People instituted the boycott several years ago because of the rebel flag’s presence at the Capitol.

In its stepped-up effort, the NAACP said it would press Hollywood actors and producers to stop making movies in South Carolina.

In recent months, major motion pictures Nailed, Leatherheads and Death Sentence were filmed in the state, pumping millions of dollars into its economy, according to Marion Edmonds, spokesman for the S.C. Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism. The NCAA also boycotts the Palmetto State because the Confederate flag flies at the State House.

The banner was removed from the dome of the Capitol in 2000, but its relocation to a highly visible spot where North Main Street meets the State House grounds continues to offend many people.

A pro-Confederate flag rally at the State House several years ago drew throngs of supporters. Although the flag has been removed from the dome of the Capitol, its continued presence on the State House grounds offends many people. File photo

NAACP national interim president Dennis Courtland Hayes, also speaking to the AP, said his organization is undeterred by the lack of political will for change in South Carolina.

"I know they don’t want to get into it, but we’re going to get into it," Hayes said. "That flag is not going to continue to fly in the face of our children. That flag is something that is very disrespectful to black people, and it’s unfortunate that the governor does not appreciate that and unfortunate that he doesn’t appreciate that feeling among a large part of his constituency, black and white citizens of South Carolina."

One member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans was quoted as saying the group planned to erect large Confederate flags at prominent locations along South Carolina interstates and highways because of the NAACP’s plans. But the leader of the state chapter of Sons of Confederate Veterans told The State newspaper that was simply one man’s opinion and the group had no specific action in mind.

Still, the latest back and forth shows no signs of effecting a compromise in the near future. Speaking to the Greenville News, state Senate President Pro Tempore Glenn McConnell, R-Charleston, dismissed characterizing the flag as anything other than an honorable symbol of a proud heritage as a "burp in a whirlwind." McConnell, a Confederate re-enactor, Civil War relic shop owner and attorney, added that "to inflict economic harm in hard times … is mean spirited," and that in the years since the flag was taken down from the State House dome, "The mainstream has moved on."

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