Mike Huckabee, Republican Presidential candidate, has given his views on the ongoing Confederate flag debate. Following Jeb Bush’s call for the flag to be taken down, Huckabee told NBC that the flag is not an issue for presidential candidates. Huckabee made the remarks on NBC’s Meet The Press, saying that candidates are being “baited” on the issue and describing it as “an issue for the people of South Carolina.”
“For those of us running for president, everyone’s being baited with this question as if somehow that has anything to do whatsoever with running for president. And my position is: It most certainly does not.”
The debate over the Confederate flag has been brought back into the public eye following the Charleston church massacre, which saw 9 African Americans killed in a historic black church. The flag’s opponents view the Confederate flag as a symbol of racism, white supremacy, and oppression, arguing that it has no place in the modern South. Those who support flying the Confederate flag argue it is a symbol of the South’s history and culture.
Mike Huckabee is wrong.
The Confederate Flag may represent the war fought with the Union and those killed in it, but in the modern era, it moreso represents something far more distasteful and far more pernicious. White supremacists have long seen the Confederate flag as a symbol for them, a symbol that represents what they want to achieve. Dylann Roof, the suspect in the Charleston shooting, seemingly bore the flag with pride, as seen in images from his alleged website, Last Rhodesian. He did the same with the flags of white-rule South Africa and Rhodesia. The Confederate flag is a natural bedfellow.
When an alleged white supremacist and murder suspect waves the flag, with a long history of other racists doing the same, yet it is argued to be a symbol of your culture – that is a sign there is something wrong with the culture, not with public perceptions. Should the flag of fascist Spain still be flown in pride of place in areas that were once fascist strongholds? Franco’s Spain lasted for nearly 40 years, far longer than the Confederate States of America. The answer, of course, is no. Spain has seen fascist symbols being removed from public places, it wants to rid itself of remnants of that brutal era – while still remembering what happened.
To see the flag of an unabashedly racist nation flying high in a state which had just seen nine African Americans brutally murdered for the color of their skin is a disgrace. Some argue that the flag is a symbol against federal oppression, and that the Civil War was not about slavery. It can be taken as read that these people either haven’t looked at the Confederate states’ secession declarations or simply don’t care.
“Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery– the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth” – Mississippi’s secession declaration.
If you’d like more proof that the Confederacy was without doubt a racist nation, take a glance at Texas.
“We hold as undeniable truths that the governments of the various States, and of the confederacy itself, were established exclusively by the white race, for themselves and their posterity; that the African race had no agency in their establishment; that they were rightfully held and regarded as an inferior and dependent race, and in that condition only could their existence in this country be rendered beneficial or tolerable.”
Flying the flag of a racist and white supremacist nation on government grounds is an election issue, whether Huckabee likes it or not. It deserves to be up for question – nothing should be above that. For Bush, it has everything to do with showing how he may handle the issue of race relations in modern America – a key issue for any presidential candidate.
Arguing that the flag should be taken down is not a matter of federal oppression – Bush isn’t yet President. But it’s a stand being taken. Simply standing on the sidelines and arguing that it isn’t anything to do with you is not a position.
The flag needs to be removed. If South Carolina declines, it’s a shameful situation for the state to be in – stubbornly flying a flag that no longer belongs.
The confederacy was a racist nation. Not all of its population was, but its founding principles were. The flag has no place on state grounds in the modern South, nor on license plates. It belongs in a museum, where it can be remembered for what it was – not what some wrongly believe it to be.
[Lead image by Chris Hondros/Getty Images, Dylann Roof image courtesy of New York Daily News]