Jonathon Hille

Jonathon Hill – South Carolina GOP Rep Says Confederate Flag Isn’t Racist Symbol

Jonathon Hill, a Republican representative in the South Carolina legislature, is taking a stand for the Confederate battle flag.

In the wake of the shootings in a South Carolina church, where Dylann Roof shot and killed nine people, including a state senator, a new awareness of the Confederate flag flying on government land has been aroused. Legislators on both sides of the aisle are now moving towards the notion of actually removing the flag, as it has become a symbol of white supremacy and a source of disparagement for the African American community in South Carolina and the country at large.

But Representative Jonathon Hill disagrees, saying that the flag flying in South Carolina isn’t actually a “Confederate flag,” but actually a “Confederate battle flag.” The difference? According to Jonathon Hill, one is rectangular (the Confederate flag) and one is square (the Confederate battle flag). One, apparently, is a symbol of racism and inequality from one of the darkest periods of American history, and the other is a symbol of the southerners – both black and white according to Jonathon Hill – that died in the Civil War. That, according to Hill, is something that shouldn’t be forgotten.

Yesterday, Representative Jonathon Hill appeared on the CBC’s radio show, As it Happens, where he spoke at length about his support of the Confederate (read: battle) flag flying in South Carolina.

“The reason for my support of the flag is that a lot depends on context. Now there is a proper time and place for the Confederate battle flag. Now let’s be clear. We’re talking about General Lee’s battle flag, we’re not talking about the rectangular Confederate flag that’s so often associated with the south, at times with white supremacy and so-forth. We’re talking about a battle flag that was used to help maneuver Confederate troops during the war… it currently flies adjacent to the Confederate Memorial, which is a memorial, a monument that was erected to – in memory of – the lives of those South Carolinians – both white and black – who fought, defending their homes and their property during the Civil War.”

As it Happens host, Carol Off, reminded Jonathon Hill that the “property” he was speaking of, was slaves.

“Well, for some, yes, it meant that. For others, no, it did not mean that. There were plenty of people in the south that did not actually have slaves… it was a very dark time in our history. It was a time in our history when we did view black people as property instead of people. And that’s something that we should not forget, that we did that. Because, you know, when we start taking things down that remind us of our past and where we’ve come from then eventually we will begin to forget and become prone to making the same mistakes over and over.”

Essentially, Republican Representative Jonathon Hill believes that there is a fundamental difference between the Confederate flag (which is rectangular and represents racism) and the Confederate battle flag (which is identical to the confederate flag except it is a square and that represents the southerners who fought and died in the Civil War defending their “property”). Additionally, Jonathon Hill believes that the flag should continue to fly officially in South Carolina so Americans don’t forget why the Civil War was fought… even though it is largely a symbol of slavery and inequality and causes a great amount of distress for a wide swath of the American population across the board.

What do you think? Is taking down the Confederate (read: battle) flag from official South Carolina facilities the right thing to do? Or is it an important piece of our American heritage, (albeit from a dark time in American history) that reminds us that slavery is wrong? Do you agree with Jonathon Hill?

[Photo by Win McNamee.]