South Carolina, a state that thoughtfully welcomes its 19 known hate groups by flying a Confederate flag over the statehouse, is facing a real quandary today. When a white man walks into a black church—a church that was targeted, surveilled and burned down 200 years ago in a period when black churches were prohibited from meeting without a white person present, and which has since served as a powerful site of resistance to a state that lynched black men as recently as 1947—and is accepted by them in prayer before he opens fire and kills nine people, including a state senator: what are you gonna do with that damn Confederate flag?
When Governor Nikki Haley was asked about the Confederate flag’s dubious official presence in 2014, she answered, “What I can tell you is over the last three and a half years, I spent a lot of my days on the phones with CEOs and recruiting jobs to this state. I can honestly say I have not had one conversation with a single CEO about the Confederate flag.”
Right, right, nice, nice. Last night, Haley wrote on Facebook, “We’ll never understand what motivates anyone to enter one of our places of worship and take the life of another.” Haley seems confused, or something—but the rest of us could easily leap to the possibility that a racist murderer might be highly motivated by a number of things, such as racism, as well as a desire to murder, and also maybe a governor who is like, “What I can tell you about this slave-state white supremacy symbol officially sponsored by my administration is that CEOs think it’s pretty chill.”
Anyway, photos show the state flag and the American flag at half-staff above the House:
And the report, so far, is that the Confederate flag is still flying high atop its pole.
Here’s to the wildly unrealistic hope that the next time it’s moved, it’s taken down. But we know, of course, that it won’t be. This breed of racism is the state’s origin, a strand of its DNA: South Carolina was the first state to fly a Confederate flag over war-captured territory, its slave-loving, red-white-and-blue banner marking the official start of the Civil War at Fort Sumter in 1861.
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