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As South Carolina Folds the Confederate Flag, Florida County Votes to Raise It Back Up

| July 9, 2015

confederate flag columbia south carolina state house

It’s finally coming down. (Ron Cogswell)

The South Carolina State House early this morning, after 12 hours of debate that at times invoked “the war of norther aggression” and other times the massacre of nine parishioners at Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church last month, voted 94-20 at 1 a.m. to remove the Confederate battle flag from the grounds of the Capitol, 77 years after it first rose in the House chamber and 54 years after it rose over the Capitol in a bombastic celebration of the first shots of the Civil War.

The House vote coincided with the 147th anniversary of the ratification of the 14th Amendment, extending to former slaves liberties and rights granted by the Bill of Rights.


The House vote overcame 25 amendments that attempted to dilute, change or delay the bill and finally mustered the two-thirds majority required since a 2000 law had made that margin necessary, if the Legislature were to alter the racist flag’s placement. It did so as numerous legislators warned of a mounting backlash against the state that would have severe consequences for economic development and tourism.

The South Carolina Senate passed a bill to remove the flag on Monday by a more overwhelming margin. The bill now goes to Gov. Nikki Haley, who asked for the flag’s removal last month in the wake of the church massacre, and who is expected to sign it today. The flag will to come down any time after that.

“Today, as the Senate did before them, the House of Representatives has served the State of South Carolina and her people with great dignity,” Haley wrote in a Facebook post early this morning. “I’m grateful for their service and their compassion. It is a new day in South Carolina, a day we can all be proud of, a day that truly brings us all together as we continue to heal, as one people and one state.”

But just as South Carolina was taking a decisive step toward conciliation, the Marion County Commission in Florida voted unanimously to reverse a decision that had removed the Confederate flag from county government grounds last week, where it had flown for two decades.

“I don’t think it’s disrespectful. I think we’re trying to be respectful of all of our citizens,” Commission Chairman Stan McClain, who is white, said. Marion County’s population is 13 percent black. McClain acknowledged that the flag could have been moved to a museum. “One of our challenges is that we don’t have a museum.” In fact, the partially county-supported Marion County Museum of History on 26th Street in Ocala is a few hundred feet from the county commission’s offices on 25th Street.

The Confederate flag in South Carolina is headed for the Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum in Columbia. The museum had once been part of the capitol grounds. It is now in the old Columbia Mills Building. On July 1, the museum became an independent state agency.

The 12 hours of debate spanned the spectrum of ideas, ideologies, myths, resentments, offenses, delusions, connivances, correctives, wit and passions that have surrounded Confederate-flag debates for more than half a century, since the reactionary South resurrected it as a symbol of resistance to integration and hate toward blacks, usually under the guise of “heritage” or preservation of history.

“It’s not about hate. And I understand that our heritage with this flag that’s out there has been hijacked,” House member W. Brian White, who several times referred to the Civil War as the “war of northern aggression,” said.

He heard echoes. “Some call it the War Between the States. Some call it the Civil War. Growing up, my family, it was called the War of Northern Aggression. It’s where the Yankees attacked the South,” Rep. Michael Pitts said. “The misrepresentation and the abduction – not the co-opting, the abduction – by despicable hate groups that took that flag as a symbol, was not what I grew up with.”

The rhetoric of reaction and resentment, however, was often outdone by more current, more aware voices in the present. “That’s something that I can go to my grave saying we accomplished here in South Carolina to bring people together,” Rep. Lonnie Hosey said. “This divide has stayed too long, and now I hope we can mend the differences that we have by not looking at a flag that would cause this (tragedy) to happen. I know it’s going to take some time, but it’s a start.”

“The people of Charleston deserve swift and immediate removal of that flag from these grounds,” Rep. John Anderson Horne said. “I cannot believe that we do not have the heart in this body to do something meaningful such as take a symbol of hate off these grounds on Friday. And if any of you vote to amend, you are ensuring that this flag will fly beyond Friday. And for the widow of Senator Pinckney and his two young daughters, that would be adding insult to injury, and I will not be a part of it. We need to follow the example of the Senate, remove this flag, and do it today. Because this issue is not getting any better with age.”

“We’re moving forward, we’re on the right track,” Rep. Wendell Gilliard, a Charleston Democrat, said. “We started off the day right, and it’s ending right. I’m grateful for the families that demonstrated what forgiveness and grace is all about. They’ve showed the world, and now tonight we followed their lead.”

“This might be two terms in one for me – my first and last,” Rep. Neal Collins said.

The flag had gone up in the South Carolina House chamber in 1938, and in the Senate chamber in 1956. It rose over the South Carolina statehouse on April 11, 1961, as part of a recreation of the first day of the Civil War, and the firing on Fort Sumter. It was a year later that the South Carolina Legislature passed a resolution approving the flag’s flying over the capitol, though it’d not been taken down for a year. The first protests to remove the flag started in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Legislators doubled down. In 1995, in the face of boycott threats and mounting protests, they passed a law giving themselves sole power to remove the flag. In 1998, a year after Gov. David Beasley proposed to remove the flag to a monument, he was defeated. Protests grow. In 2000, the flag is removed from the state dome, only to be raised nearby, alongside a Confederate memorial. That’s where it remained until this week.

Exactly 50 years ago, Erskine Caldwell, the novelist of “Tobacco Road” and “God’s Little Acre,” wrote of the Confederate flag as “The South’s Other Venerable Tradition.” He began by relating the experience of witnessing, as a boy and in the company of his father, the brutalizing of a black sharecropper at a white landowner’s hand. The sharecropper had bought a cow without asking the landowner’s permission. Caldwell then spoke of the Deep South’s “venerable tradition of military valor, gracious hospitality and amorous proclivity for its coat-of-arms,” echoing much of the veneration heaped on the South Carolina’s traditions during Wednesday’s debate at the South Carolina Legislature. But then he went on to write of “the other side of the emblem,” a heritage symbolized by the Confederate flag.

“Even after all this time since the ending of the Civil War,” Caldwell wrote, “the attitude of the unreconstructed Rebel toward the Yankee is symbolized in many parts of the Deep South by the flaunting of the Confederate flag. This in itself may be either patriotic or defiant, depending upon individual motivation, but nevertheless it has come to signify to the rest of the world a mountain-family-feud, get-even-with-you type of resentment. Whatever the motivation, the Confederate flag will be associated for a long time with premeditated acts of violence directed at Yankees and Southerners alike who strive to eliminate provincial feudalism and institute American democracy. Instead of being left on the graves of Confederate soldiers as a memorial, it is frequently taken up and waved by self-appointed night riders and organized groups while threatening and intimidating, as well as using violence, in their attempt to force a kind of autonomous government or home rule upon this large region of the United States.”

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34 Responses for “As South Carolina Folds the Confederate Flag, Florida County Votes to Raise It Back Up”

  1. Bill says:

    I totally agree with both. in south Carolina the State is taking down the confederate battle flag of the army of northern Virginia NOT the confederate flag. In that case it serves NO purpose. In Marion County they are putting back up the last version of the Confederacy’s flag. It makes sense as it is in a place with every Nation Flag that Florida was once a part of.

  2. Samuel L. Bronkowitz says:

    For every step the nation takes forward, Florida feels compelled to take two steps back. Next on the agenda: revoking interracial marriage and giving state funding to the KKK.

    Sad thing is, there are many people that comment here that would approve of that.

  3. Groot says:

    Marion County go figure? And I thought with the S Carolina decision, the Civil War was finally over.

  4. Objects don’t create hate.
    People do
    If he had been by a cross would we outlaw that??

  5. Mike Bencal says:

    Except people have adopted the flag as a symbol of their hatred and a banner of bigotry

  6. Dave Clair says:

    Don’t like it leave it , your not welcome here anyway ,, it’s only a racist flag if you make it one ,, proud to be Southern ,,,, respect is a two way street Yankee boy.

  7. Why hasn’t this ever came up before now because some kid had a tag on his car makes this raciest, I don’t believe it for a minute people need to come together and be one and it can happen why not try andd see what happens.

  8. m&m says:

    The flag represents the south and isn’t a race issue. People made it a race issue. Some wacko killed black people and his picture had the flag in it. So now whites are running around scared they may offend someone and focused on the flag. Did anyone get Donald Trump’s oppinion?? He tells what everyone else is thinking but don’t guts enough to say.

  9. John Gilmore says:

    Racism is alive and well in Marion County!

  10. Dave Clair says:

    Racism is everywhere bro ,, sorry to be the bearer of bad news ,,,,I don’t like it or promote it but it is ,,,

  11. Donald Meuer says:

    Whay to go, It’s been there all alone and has hurt no one, leave it alone

  12. Nobody who has been protesting even knew the difference between flags until they let a neo nazi control their thinking. Smart move! *insert sarcasm here*

  13. Ronald says:

    What’s next the McDonald Golden Arches ? Or Taco Bells “Taco” ? Insanity has many levels. And I believe the liberal left has just reach the top level .

  14. Anonymous says:

    Look into why south Carolina put up the battle flag and why Marion County has the last version of the confederacy’s flag. One was put up by racists- demacrats the other is about history.

  15. Allen says:

    Let the cultural genocide begin just as ISIS is doing in the middle east by destroying 2 and 3 thousand year old statues. .

    Washington DC and Washington State need to be renamed because George Washington owned slaves.

    The Jefferson Memorial needs to come down because Jefferson owned slaves.

    George Washing needs to come off of the $1.00 bill

    Thomas Jefferson needs to come off the $2.00 bill

    Take down the US Flag where ever it flies as it’s a symbol or racism. Slaves were brought to the US from it’s founding and slavery existed in the US in 1866. Slaves put the dome on the US Capital during the so called Civil War. Let’s take the dome off the capital.

    We need to cleanse the past of all evil white slave owners.

  16. Allen says:

    Oh, and we can’t forget dishonest Abe, who’s wife owned slaves until the 13th amendment was passed. Abe was also a life member of the American Colonization Society which wanted to abolish slavery in North America, but also wanted to remove all blacks from north America. Send them all back to Africa or at least somewhere in Central or South America. He had his secretary of State working on this project all the while he was in office. So, we need to take dishonest Abe off the $5.00 bill and plow his memorial into the Potomac River.

    And how can we forget General Sherman, a slave owner. When asked about it, he said good help is hard to find.

  17. truth says:

    The confederate flag is southern history and southerners take it seriously. There were MANY reasons for the war, read a 5th grade history book! The sign for “white power” is the burning cross and I would have a problem if that was on a flag. Yes, sometimes you see the confederate flag in these pictures because it happened in the SOUTH! And yes, there were white slaves and yes, wealthy black people did have slaves. The flag is heritage, not hate. Stop making excuses! All this has done is make southerners more proud of their flag. Ironically, many of the complainers are northerners. We didnt go to your house, you came to ours…GO BACK up north and complain there!!

    • Geezer says:

      I went “up north” (NH) and traded palmetto bugs for mountains and beautiful
      scenery largely devoid of the rampant hatred you nice folks luxuriate in.

      It’s weird to drive with so few road-ragers up here…..
      I miss the tailgaters.

      All in all, you offer sound advice, directing us Yankees to go north.
      THANK YOU for caring. The south is all yours buddy, bugs and all.
      Maybe, just maybe you can officially abolish abolition and proudly
      enslave your “colored” neighbor.

      That will be a sight, since you’re all slaves to your Tea Party government!
      You just love to spoon that crap in all day.

  18. Geezer says:

    How about this: only Old Glory and the state flag flown on federal and state grounds.
    Old Glory is the only flag for me. But those who like their Stars and Bars should continue to
    fly it on their own property.

    Our racial hatred problem runs deeper than the banning of flags could ever remedy.

    • Allen says:

      Hey Geezer,

      The Stars and Bars have never flown on any State Capital grounds or county seat grounds to my knowledge since at least 1865. Maybe you can tell me where you have seen the Stars and Bars.

      The US Flag shouldn’t be flown anywhere but on Federal property, never state property.

      • Geezer says:

        Hey Allen,

        Take a ride to Tallahassee, and get back to me.
        While there, crane your neck to see Old Glory atop
        the Florida State Capital building. Oh no! I see it’s
        atop the Florida Department of Highway Safety and
        Motor Vehicles building! Goodness gracious, are those
        federal buildings now?

        Congress just voted to remove the Stars and Bars
        from Federal cemeteries. Ahem..

        You got some writing to do.

        Write these uninformed bureaucrats a strong letter.
        Inform them that the US flag can’t be flown there.
        YOU SAID SO.

        • Allen says:

          Hey Geezer,

          I along with tens of thousands are writing our Senators and Congressmen, but it seems Washington City is very corrupt as most people know and we sadly don’t have the influence because we are the wrong color. Politicians don’t pander to us like they do all other groups in society. Culture genocide don’t you know? We are just waiting for socialism to completely take over and then it won’t be long until the US goes the way of Greece. Then maybe The South can rise again.

          You need to do a search and see what the stars and bars looks like, bet you’ve never even seen one before.

  19. Kevin says:

    Hypocrisy of the right wing conservative wackos continues…the flag represents treason against our nation. It is a relic of a cause that was un-American and un patriotic. The killer of the nine innocents in Charleston had photos of him burning Old Glory and waiving the flag of treason and this Florida County wants to fly it? Those who voted to do so are un patriotic, un-American and give people like Timothy McVeigh and the loser killer in SC credence. Shame!

  20. Algernon says:

    Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if the confederacy’s flag was the historical one waving. The problem is the Virgina battle flag, Stars and Bars, became the symbol of the south’s battle against civil rights and integration in the 1960s. Two different flags, confusing the issue. People proud of southern heritage being co-opted by the more radical racists. Confusing enough that it’s difficult for some, north and south, to tell the difference. And in that confusion, some folks who don’t want to bother with details, just feel they are being attacked, and dig in their heels a bit more to protect the Stars and Bars.

    And if you wonder who I mean, there are a couple above encouraging people who moved their hopes and lives to Flagler County to go back up north. Americans all, right?

  21. Sherry E says:

    Slice and dice the stars and bars in any form and in any way you want, they are ALL a symbol of rebellion at the very best, and racism at worst! That symbol in any form has NO place on any property belonging to the citizens and taxpayers of these United States of America!

    I’m a Southerner, born and raised here. I am a direct descendant of a “rebel” Confederate General who served in the Civil War. My ancestors, on my mother’s side, owned slaves on their plantations in Georgia.
    HOWEVER, I, and my family have now EVOLVED beyond that inhumane time. We no longer believe in or pine for the “bad ole days” of massive injustice and bigotry. Our more recent generations are more highly educated and tolerant. We truly understand that all human beings are created equal and should be afford equal opportunities according to our laws.

    My family and I wish to move forward creating a more equitable and highly civilized culture in our home state and in our nation. We prefer not to continue relishing and honoring such troubled times in the history of our country. Yes, we should remember those who died in the Civil War, but only in a way that keeps our species from repeating such tragic mistakes. . . as ALL wars are.

    My questions are, why does anyone so passionately want to hold on to and revere any symbol of fear, discord, hate or war? What terror lies in the hearts of those who so desperately act to display such symbols? How very sad for those who cling to such a negative age in the development of our country when we should all be working together to build a brighter future for the next generations!

    • Allen says:

      Sherry, Very sad you don’t have any respect for your ancestors. I’m sorry for that.

      Maybe I can answer your question thought. The Battle Flag of the Army of Northern Virginia was the flag of Robert Edward Lee. Lee had more valor, honor and integrity than the entire Yankee Army. You might know that he was in the US Army for most of his adult life and was offered the job of leading the Yankee army. He graciously turned down the offer as he said he could not raise his sword against his country (Virginia). He should always be honored and respected for the gentleman he was unlike the drunkert Grant and the terrorist Sherman who burned, looted and raped his way across Georgia and South Carolina.

  22. Sherry E says:

    Slice and dice the stars and bars in any form and in any way you want, they are ALL a symbol of rebellion at the very best, and racism at worst! That symbol in any form has NO place on any property belonging to the citizens and taxpayers of these United States of America!

    I’m a Southerner, born and raised here. I am a direct descendant of a “rebel” Confederate General who served in the Civil War. My ancestors, on my mother’s side, owned slaves on their plantations in Georgia.
    HOWEVER, I, and my family have now EVOLVED beyond that inhumane time. We no longer believe in or pine for the “bad ole days” of massive injustice and bigotry. Our more recent generations are more highly educated and tolerant. We truly understand that all human beings are created equal and should be afford equal opportunities according to our laws.

    My family and I wish to move forward creating a more equitable and highly civilized culture in our home state and in our nation. We prefer not to continue relishing and honoring such troubled times in the history of our country. Yes, we should remember those who died in the Civil War, but only in a way that keeps our species from repeating such tragic mistakes. . . as ALL wars are.

    My questions are, why does anyone so passionately want to hold on to and revere any symbol of fear, discord, hate or war? What terror lies in the hearts of those who so desperately act to display such symbols? How very sad for those who cling to such a negative age in the development of our country when we should all be working together to build a brighter future for the next generations!

  23. Carol Fisher says:

    Well said, Sherry! Thank you!

  24. Knightwatch says:

    For all of you southern defenders of the confederate flag, your “heritage” includes enslaving and horribly abusing innocent human beings for the sole purpose of working them to death because you needed cheap labor to sustain your farms, and you were too weak, lazy and cheap to do it yourselves. It includes insurrection against the very nation for which you now profess such self-serving love and patriotism. It includes 100 years of racial supression, discrimination and outright mahem, and a racist fight against Black civil rights that included the cowardly murder of men, women and children. And now, a last stand against the civil rights of gays in which you hide behind your false Bibles and corrupted Christian faith to perpetuate your bigotry and hate.

    You live in the least educated, unhealthiest, worst managed and poorest states in the country. Yeah, cling to your heritage. You deserve it, and all of the derision with which the rest of America and the world view you.

  25. Bill harvey says:

    Excellent comment sherry, I agree 100%

  26. Sherry E says:

    Thank you very much, Carol and Bill. . . how wonderful to know that there are some sane, reasonable, intelligent, educated people reading the articles in this excellent web site!

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