Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley appeared on PBS’s Firing Line Friday and spoke to host Margaret Hoover about the recent controversy around her comments on the Confederate flag and suggestion that convicted white supremacist mass murderer Dylann Roof “hijacked it.”
“I’ve literally said the same things for all the years since,” Haley said, suggesting that the current climate of media outrage has sparked the recent criticism of her beliefs, per Newsweek.
In 2015, Haley called for the removal of the Confederate flag from South Carolina’s State House grounds — a decision that received bipartisan praise.
“The Confederate flag, I’ve said from the very beginning, never should have been there in the first place. But because it was there, I saw the opportunity that maybe we could have a conversation about bringing it down. But in order to bring a compromise, you have to be able to respect the views of your people.”
Haley added that there are two general groups of belief in South Carolina when it comes to the Confederate flag: one group that believes the flag symbolizes “pain and racism and slavery,” and another that does not see racism but instead “heritage and sacrifice and service.”
“If I had gone and condemned those people that saw it that way, that flag never would have come down,” Haley said.
.@NikkiHaley addresses backlash over her comments that a white supremacist "hijacked" the Confederate flag. Haley says she had to “acknowledge” those who see it as “heritage” to get it taken down, but says “the Confederate flag never should have been there in the first place.” pic.twitter.com/Cudxmsqk8E
— Firing Line with Margaret Hoover (@FiringLineShow) December 12, 2019
According to Haley, her approach — acknowledging both sides of the issue — was the reason she was able to secure the two-thirds’ majority needed to remove the flag. She later spoke of her own struggles with inclusion growing up in an Indian American Sikh family and said she has tried to help South Carolina people understand that nobody should have to drive by the State House and “feel pain.”
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) notes that the Confederate flag is seen both as a symbol of Southern pride or heritage and a reflection of white supremacy. The organization suggested that the symbol should only be judged in the context of the situation in which it appears.
The various meanings of the flag have made it the center of controversy on many occasions. As The Inquisitr previously reported, Michigan police officer Charles Anderson was fired for keeping KKK and Confederate memorabilia in his home. According to Anderson, the Confederate flags were a reflection of his love for the 1970s sitcom The Dukes of Hazzard. As for the KKK application, Anderson said it was a historical artifact and identified himself as an amateur historian.