South Carolina could spend up to $3.6 million to house and display the Confederate flag that once flew in front of the statehouse. After a long deliberation, the state removed the flag in July after nine members of Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal were murdered in a hate crime.
When the state finally decided to remove the flag from statehouse grounds, it did so with the compromise that it would be moved to State Museum’s Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum Commission; a move that seemed an easy enough response as state and federal lawmakers suggested that moving the flag to a museum was the natural compromise. But that compromise looks a bit more expensive than the rhetoric. The commission that governs the weirdly named Relic Room, a name overburdened with religious overtones, proposed a budget of $3.6 million to properly house the Confederate flag, $1.7 million less than their original proposal.
The Charlotte Observer reports:
The commission voted unanimously to approve the plan, which includes opening a new wing at the Relic Room, which is located in the same renovated textile mill as the S.C. State Museum. The proposal also includes an electronic presentation of the names of all 24,000 South Carolina Confederate soldiers killed in the Civil War and the conservation and display of period Confederate battle flags now in storage.
The commission contends that the state’s resolution to remove the flag from statehouse grounds requires the museum to create a display honoring South Carolina’s Confederate soldiers. “Just putting it in a box won’t settle a controversy that has gone on [since 1962],” Relic Room director Allen Roberson said. “We are the institution to resolve this. And this is a solution to resolve the problem as best we can.” The commission’s proposal, as well as the very existence of a Confederate Relic Room, is a persistent reminder that museums aren’t a refuge from the contentious politics of public spaces. Their making and curation is hardly a neutral act, but rather determined by those politics.
The state legislature still needs to approve the Relic Room’s budget. The Guardian reports that the commission has to present the proposal by January 1st, at which time legislators will debate the proposal’s merits. Not all are pleased by the millions the commission is asking for. Representative Chris Corley (R) has already signaled that he will not vote “for that much money to go into it,” indicating that funds are best spent elsewhere.
Image via AP.