‘My hope is that by removing a symbol that divides us, we can move forward as a state in harmony,” Governor Nikki Haley (R., S.C.) said Monday, in the aftermath of the terrorist massacre perpetrated by über-racist Dylann Storm Roof.
Haley, a rising Republican star, is correct to lower the Confederate flag. It has reflected Democratic racial oppression since it was stitched together in 1861, and has been hoisted by Democrats ever since. Just as Republicans — led by President Abraham Lincoln — valiantly crushed the Democrat-run Confederacy, Republicans proudly should banish the Stars and Bars to private property and history museums. They also should remind Americans that Democrats waved this frightful banner until very recently.
As the Civil War began, the Army of Northern Virginia, led by eventual Democratic activist Robert E. Lee, adopted the battle flag that is under contention today. It became the secessionists’ national banner in 1863. Its designer, William T. Thompson, praised it in the Savannah Daily Morning News that May 4:
As a national emblem, it is significant of our higher cause, the cause of a superior race, and a higher civilization contending against ignorance, infidelity, and barbarism. Another merit in the new flag is, that it bears no resemblance to the now infamous banner of the Yankee vandals.
Two years later, that flag was in tatters. The North beat the South, and the Confederacy was gone with the wind.
How did this symbol of a pro-slavery breakaway republic wind up atop South Carolina’s state capitol? As the debate raged over civil rights in 1961, the Democratic legislature under Governor Ernest “Fritz” Hollings, a Democrat, raised the Stars and Bars to mark the “Confederate War Centennial.”
About that time, Hollings presented a Confederate flag to President John F. Kennedy, another Democrat.
Of course, Democratic U.S. senators such as former KKK Grand Cyclops Robert Byrd of West Virginia, Tennessee’s Albert Gore Sr. (father of you know who), and Arkansas’s J. William Fulbright (Bill Clinton’s mentor) stood shoulder to shoulder with Hollings and other segregationist Democratic governors, most notably Arkansas’s Orval Faubus and Alabama’s George Wallace. (Wallace installed the rebel flag over his statehouse in 1963, the day before Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy arrived to discuss integration.) While Byrd and Company filibustered the Civil Rights Act of 1964, these state executives blocked schoolhouse doors to exclude blacks.
Illinois’s Republican senator Everett Dirksen finally broke the bigoted Democrats’ filibuster and got the Civil Rights Act approved for the signature of Democratic president Lyndon Johnson.
As a Democratic governor, Bill Clinton in 1987 signed Act 116, which concerned his state banner. It read: “The blue star above the word ‘ARKANSAS’ is to commemorate the Confederate States of America.”
When Bill ran for president, some of his political paraphernalia featured Confederate flags. So did some of Hillary’s presidential-campaign buttons in 2008.
Former governor Howard Dean (D., Vt.) told the Democratic National Committee in 2003 that “white folks in the South who drive pickup trucks with Confederate-flag decals on the back ought to be voting with us.” That November, Dean declared: “I still want to be the candidate for guys with Confederate flags in their pickup trucks.” Two years later, he became chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
Meanwhile, back in South Carolina, Democratic gubernatorial nominee Jim Hodges huddled in May 1998 with the white-supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens. “Hodges got right to the point,” reported the newspaper the State. “He said that, as governor, he would not initiate any action to bring the banner down.”
Two years later, the state legislature passed and Hodges signed a proposal first offered by his GOP predecessor, David Beasley. The Confederate banner was removed from the capitol dome and flown beside a Confederate memorial on the legislature’s lawn.
So, now, Republican Haley has united Republicans and Democrats, both black and white, to complete what Republican Beasley began and reverse the insult started under Democrat Hollings.
The Left insists that Americans recognize racism today and acknowledge its stain on our history. We already do this daily, from private discussions to national conversations (Ferguson, Baltimore), motion pictures (12 Years a Slave, Selma), and even Black History Month. To that end, Democrats should stop flinging their Confederate flag onto the Grand Old Party. Instead, knock-kneed Republicans should steel themselves for once and demand that Democrats concede that they invented this intimidating standard and deployed it for more than a century to keep blacks down.