Thursday, December 12, 2019


In a Washington Post op-ed, Nikki Haley gives herself another round of applause for getting the Confederate battle flag removed from South Carolina's state house grounds while attempting to transform her controversial recent remarks on the flag into an attack on everyone's favorite scapegoats: the media and liberals.

Haley starts by previewing the first minute of her 2024 presidential campaign announcement video.
Four years ago, the removal of the Confederate battle flag from the South Carolina statehouse grounds was a seminal moment for our state and a watershed for our country. As governor, I was proud to lead that effort. More important, as a born-and-raised South Carolinian, I was proud of the people of our state who came together — black and white, Republican and Democrat — at a time of immense pain following the Charleston church shooting.
She quotes the equivocal words she spoke at the time:
The hate-filled murderer who massacred our brothers and sisters in Charleston has a sick and twisted view of the flag. In no way does he reflect the people in our state who respect and, in many ways, revere it. At the same time, for many others in South Carolina, the flag is a deeply offensive symbol of a brutally oppressive past. As a state, we can survive, as we have done, while still being home to both of those viewpoints.
She says those words helped heal her state -- and are no different from her remarks to Glenn Beck a few weeks ago (she said of the flag, "people saw it as service, and sacrifice, and heritage, but once" Confederate flag lover Dylann Roof killed twelve black churchgoers, "there was no way to overcome it").

Now Haley insists she said nothing wrong. On the contrary, she says that her critics are the evil ones. She has no way of proving this, but it's her belief, based on no evidence, that the flag couldn't be removed from the state house grounds today because of all those awful zealots.
Today’s outrage culture does not allow any gestures to the other side. It demands that we declare winners and losers.

That attitude comes at a big price. Sadly, I’m not sure that in today’s political climate we would have been able to remove the flag.

The reason is not the upsurge in white nationalism. While that is a very disturbing trend that must be resisted, it has not changed the composition of the South Carolina legislature that needed a two-thirds vote to remove the flag. Rather, the reason is today’s media hysteria that makes it far more difficult to have the kind of thoughtful and prayerful dialogue we had following the Charleston murders.
So white nationalists would be off the hook in this imagined scenario. The media would be at fault, as well as liberals with our "outrage culture."
There are a small number of hardened white supremacist racists who proclaim the flag as their symbol. The Charleston killer was among them. I will never understand the dark hatred that fills those people’s hearts.

But there’s also another group of people. It’s a group that today’s outrage culture wants to either deny exists or to condemn in the harshest terms. These are people who do not see the Confederate battle flag in racial terms. While I don’t agree with their view of the flag, I respect them.

Today’s outrage culture insists that everyone who holds a view that’s different from our own is not just mistaken. They must be evil and shunned. That’s wrong. I know too many good people in South Carolina who think differently about the flag but who are not the least bit racist.

The tragedy of all of this is that it makes compromise far less possible.
The flag came down in 2015. I know it's easy to flush these things down the memory hole, but many of us said -- yes, way, way back in that distant bygone era -- that there was no excuse for anyone to continue flying the Confederate flag. And we were attacked for staking out an extreme position even in that dimly remembered era, four years ago.

I know that the need to blame liberals for everything is such an insatiable craving on the part of conservatives that they sometimes need to invent hypothetical crimes and then blame us for those, too. But we don't run South Carolina. If there was resistance to removing the flag, it was on the part of conservatives in the state. It's their state, and it would have been their fault if the flag stayed up.

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