From Mayor Bob on the Flag

Mayor Bob Coble paused en route to Deutschland to post these thoughts on my recent post on the flag issue:

Brad, I am on a plane from Atlanta to Frankfurt for an economic
development mission with S.C. Commerce. (This email address will reach
me on my blackberry until Thursday). One focus of the trip is fuel
cells. Neil McLean of Engenuity is also on the trip. I quickly read
your blog about the flag, and responded, before we left Atlanta.

It seems that a number of factors have converged that warrant another
concerted effort to move the flag to an appropriate location.

  1. South Carolina and Columbia really are entering the knowledge
    economy. The State’s hydrogen series two weeks ago,  the Horizon and
    Discovery Buildings actually comingBob_coble_2
    out of the ground, the hiring of
    John Parks as the Innovista’s executive director, and the announcement
    of Innovista’s first tenant, Duck Creek, all confirm that the
    potential for success is real. The Confederate flag represents the
    antithesis of these efforts, and is always the first or second question
    about what kind of place South Carolina really is.
  2. The Presidential Primaries are enormous opportunities to
    re-introduce South Carolina and Columbia to the nation. Columbia is
    doing a Presidential Primary Committee to present our positive message
    to the national media. (I will be personally standing at our kiosk at
    the airport). In reality the purpose of this effort is to present an
    alternate view to the confederate flag. What a perfect time to try to
    just move the flag. The eyes of the nation, for good or bad, would be
    on us as we try.
  3. The Don Imus matter is causing the nation to review the issues of
    race, sexism etc.  Why shouldn’t the appropriateness of the flag on the
    Statehouse grounds be reviewed as well.
  4. The statement of Coach Spurrier adds a new perspective to the
    debate. The story by Joe Persons online said that Spurrier was not
    trying to be a politician and that the flag was not impacting
    recruiting. He just wanted South Carolina to do better and be more
    progressive. That is powerful.

I agree with you. We should form an organization and move forward now. Maybe just call a meeting and see who shows up.

I think we should do just that. I’m going to try to get started on that Monday.

27 thoughts on “From Mayor Bob on the Flag

  1. Annee

    I think you and the mayor are absolutely on the right track – if you guys are up for the fight, which it sounds like you are, then go for it – but watch “Amazing Grace” before you do – a little of William Wilberforce’s persistence is a good inspiration for battles such as these.

  2. parent

    Why is this such a big deal? It is a part of our history that shows how far we have come and the situations we have overcome. Shouldn’t we be putting all the attention this issue is causing on something more important, like our childrens education. We are still almost last with education. Im not proud of that. Im not for or against this issue, I just dont think we should be fighting or spending time on it. We need to get our education higher in the ranks and take care of the people of SC.

  3. L. Robinson

    The problem with this flag is the location. Placing it on private property is fine. As long as it is on government property, SC will always here about this issue. The government is suppose to represent ALL people and it’s obvious this flag doesn’t. SC will stay in a nonprogressive mode. Look at it neighbor up I-77; Charlotte, NC. Columbia and the rest of SC with their mentality will never compare to this thriving city.

  4. Lee Ann Kornegay

    Count me in on the fight to get the flag down! It is so embarrassing and humiliating to drive past such a symbol of hate for so many. Out of towners are shocked we are still so stuck in our bigoted past. It is a physical reminder and a constant slap in the face for those of us who apprectiate SC history but want to move forward, progress and create a community where all can feel proud. Count me in to do what I can to keep the pot stirred until action is taken. I’ve often wanted to do a documentary on the flag issue. I’ll donate my time and skills to help make that happen.

  5. John

    I am glad that this is finally happening. I was at the event at which The Ole Ball Coach spoke his heart. My family has lived in SC for generations. My family fought in the Civil War for SC. But, that is the past! Family makes you who you are and that is why I am strong enough to admit that my family made a mistake. To honor them and to go forward, I am all for taking down the flag! I look forward to the day when the world, not just the nation, can look at us as a progressive state, instead of living in the past and being last in all that we pursue. Let us finally make that first step!

  6. Ronald Abrams

    Herr Mayor
    Why do you want to make our personable little capital city nother Atlanta?- A city filled with people bent on destroying Southern culture.
    If we just be ourselves , we are more attractive being GENUINE.We can show the nation CONSIDERABLE knowledge in not following the pied piper of political correctness or cultural marxism.
    Our Confederate history cannot be altered. It(the flag) should however be a beacon to the present SC AND the whole nation of the great struggle we endured before and during Reconstruction- How we rebuilt our region WITHOUT any Marshall plan type federal aid.
    Rev King said many times to leave the flag alone as it was not embroiled in any struggle for civil rights. His words were not heeded as race baiters continue to malign this honourable flag.
    You may take the flag down, but what you will get is the same fate that Beasley got.

  7. ron

    i was born and raised in south carolina and have never understood this obsession with the flag. we have wasted alot of time and money living in the past. it’s time to move on and enter the 21st century by removing the flag.

  8. Carol Hathaway

    All of you who protest this latest “initiative” to remove the Confederate flag are misunderstanding the point of the exercise. The point of the exercise is not to actually remove the flag; it is to talk endlessly about removing the flag, as a way to avoid addressing real problems caused by racism in South Carolina society. Removing the flag, even if accomplished, would be a meaningless gesture, and would not presently improve the lot of those who are disadvantaged by racism. More importantly, it would not diminish the position of those who presently benefit from racism.
    Those of you who oppose removing the flag don’t have to worry. If the flag is actually removed, the ability to make a meaningless gesture by removing it will similarly be removed. Those who benefit from racism in South Carolina society don’t want to be put in the position of taking real, meaningful steps, or of admitting that they have no intention of taking real, meaningful steps.

  9. Brad Warthen

    The fallacy in Carol’s argument, which we’ve all heard a thousand times, is painfully obvious.

    If this is just a huge distraction, meant to be a focal point for resentment and permanent rhetoric, then you know how you deal with that?

    You take the flag down. Actually, it’s even easier than that. We stop paying somebody to RAISE it every day. Just one day, don’t do it.

    That would REALLY pull the rug out from under us hypocrites.

    Anyone saying "trying to move the flag is a waste of energy that should be spent on other, more important issues," is really saying, "oh, please don’t take the flag down." Because getting rid of it actually takes very little effort.

    I don’t know where Carol’s been, but I am on all those other, more important issues 24/7; that’s where the overwhelming majority of my time is spent. If you doubt that, it’s very simple for me to enlighten you. If you’re too lazy to go back and read the last few months of The State’s editorial page at the library, just go back to the main page of this blog and scroll down.

    Let’s see:

    • The Confederate Flag category… five posts in the two years since I started the blog. (admittedly, I might have missed some minor references, since I just created this category the other day, and tried to include the past stuff I remembered retroactively)
    • Education… go ahead, click on it. You count it; I don’t have that much time.
    • War and Peace… Tolstoy might need to come back and add some to the novel if he wants to catch up with the sheer volume.
    • Government restructuring … Warning, it might take a moment to load.

    Go ahead; YOU pick the categories. There all listed in the rail to the right.

    Finally, let me tell you why taking the flag down is important. It’s because, if we show ourselves that we can come together and get this done, in spite of so many thinking it’s some sort of Third Rail in South Carolina, it will increase the confidence of people of good will to tackle education, economic development, health and other critical issues that badly need common-sense, nonpartisan solutions.

    That’s why I’m so opposed to the NAACP approach. You can accomplish the goal I have in mind through coercion. South Carolinians have to decide this for themselves, so that they can they go forward to solve the other problems we have in common.

  10. George R. Chisenhall, Jr.

    The Confederate Flag is an important symbol of our heritage, and currently files in a place of honor next to the confederate soldiers monument. It is not in a place of sovereignty, but a proper place to honor the sacrifice of those who served our state during the War Between the States. These soldiers fought and died for their homeland against a brutal enemy during a time of war. The vast majority of the men that died for the people of South Carolina during the War Between the States did not own slaves and were fighting to save their homeland from an invading army. The monument sits in a place of honor in front of the capitol of South Carolina and the flag that flies next to it in a place of a of honor, This is a fitting tribute to these brave men who defended our great state in a time of crisis. This war monument properly sits in from of the capitol as more South Carolinians died in the War Between the States than any other war.
    The war is over, the politics settled, and South Carolina’s side lost but we should always honor those that fought for the people of South Carolina. The fact that some groups have co-opted the symbols of the past for hate in the present is unfortunate, but we cannot allow a very small minority hate mongers to corrupt the honorable memories of those who fought bravely for their homeland. The American flag and the state flag are also used by hate groups during marches, and rallies, I hope that we never allow these important symbols of our state and country to be removed because some one is offended the reprehensible actions of a few bigots. To those that don’t understand the significance of honoring the brave men that died defending South Carolina and only see hate, I fear that they have fallen under the spell of the hate mongers.

  11. Bill B.

    What I’m wondering is why The State considers a liberal editor’s blog “Breaking News” on their website.

  12. Gen

    So you remove the Confederate Battle Flag. Then what ? Maybe the statue of Wade Hampton upsets you, especially as Hampton was a confederate general, so you’ll lead the charge and use the newspaper as a bully pulpit to get General Hampton carted off to the scrap heap. And who knows…maybe in the future some guy with a bull horn and a poor sense of history will decide that the African American Monument needs to go, so it gets sent to the scrap heap, too. Anyone can do all that, but it doesn’t change the fact that the history happened.
    The flag is where it is to serve as a memorial to those that felt that the South had the right to leave the Union just like the Colonies felt they had the right to break away from England.
    If the South had left the Union for ANY reason, the result would have been the same. A war would have ensued.
    Finally, I think I’ve read enough of The State newspaper to realize that the paper is just trying to manipulate public oppinion. There is nothing “fair and balanced” in the effort at all, and is disrespectful to those that want the flag where it is.

  13. Mike Cakora

    “We stop paying somebody to RAISE it every day. Just one day, don’t do it.”
    Elegant in its simplicity.
    Do you think Mayor Bob will tell the Germans that our submarine is older than theirs is? Whether he does or not, might not the flag more properly adorn that revered and priceless artifact?

  14. Randy E

    My wife is from Connecticut. She and her friends have a narrow view of SC largely based on the flag and overall race issues. I try to defend our state, insisting their view is skewed, but find it difficult to justify why we must have a confederate flag as representation of who we are.
    Doesn’t the South Carolina state flag do more to represent our heritage? The color, crescent moon, and palmetto tree are taken from the Revolutionary War when we played a key role in establishing OUR COUNTRY!
    Why do we spend more time honoring the confederacy, which is no longer in existence, than honoring our state. Why wouldn’t Carolina Day be a state holiday with a reinactment of the battle(s) at Sullivan’s Island?
    If the defense of the confederate flag is truly based on “heritage”, let’s us celebrate our true South Carolina heritage.

  15. Jeff M

    I do not doubt the sincerity of those like Mr. Chisenhall above. Not for a second.
    But the flag could be displayed in, for example, the state museum, in a place where all who wish to honor their ancestors can do so as often as they please.
    I have ancestors who fought with the Confederacy for their homes and families, too. But how can I look my neighbor in the eye, who believes (with a sincerity that matches Mr. Chisenhall’s) that the flag is an obstacle to racial reconciliation, and tell him or her that it has to be flown on the capitol grounds?
    If my Confederate ancestors knew the Lord, they’re in heaven now. I’m sure they would want me to do everything I can to live in harmony with my fellow South Carolinians who are alive and well today.

  16. Charles Cox

    Let the Confererate flag fly. Skinheads can display the swastika as an arm band. The University can call itself the “Ganecocks”, even though cok fighting is an inhumane and criminal activity. As abhorrent as these symbols are to me, there is something far worse. It is call “censorship”. Freedom of expression has no exceptions and is well worth the price of personal offense at times!

  17. Claudia

    I am thrilled to see all the interest in Brad’s proposed grassroots effort to remove the battle flag from the state house grounds. Mayor Coble, thank you for your support… the time does indeed seem right.

  18. Ready to Hurl

    I’m continually amazed that people who claim to love and revere the United States of America today can simultaneously view the USA (which defeated the CSA and abolished slavery) as an evil aggressor.
    The current USA is a direct descendant of the USA which won the Civil War. While the proponents of CSA claim the heritage of 1776 they overlook many differences. The CSA was much closer to the USA under the Articles of Confederation, for instance. But, most significantly the abolishment of chattel slavery was finally on the way to fulfillment in 1860, only 40 years after Thomas Jefferson had fervently hoped that it would end.
    It’s a mystery how one can defend a rebellion primarily inspired to preserve chattel slavery and yet lay claim to the US Declaration of Independence. (“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”)

  19. Wally Altman

    Charles, this isn’t an issue of censorship. Anyone is free to display the Confederate flag on their private property. There is no excuse for the government of South Carolina, which is supposed to represent us all, to proudly display a symbol which represents such terrible hurt to so many of our fellow citizens.

  20. Reed Swearingen

    I support the removal of the Confederate flag from the State House grounds, if for no other reason than economics. Job creation has become so competitive that we should not allow a controversial symbol (rightly or wrongly) to hamper our state’s ability to attract jobs.
    While we are at it, I propose that we move the Confederate Soldier Monument to the west side of the capitol. We have one of the nation’s more beautiful state capitols and it is a shame that any monument blocks her primary view.
    Regarding the presidential primaries, it is not in our state’s best interest to have a family feud, in the public square, in front of a national audience. We should work together quietly to resolve this issue.

  21. James Byrd

    I wish people would STOP claiming that the Confederate flag is a symbol of heritage! According to the census of 1860, the total population of the state was 703,708. 402,406(57%) were slaves. Human beings who were held against their will! Is that the heritage you’re proud of?
    When blacks asks for an apology for slavery, we are so quick to respond with, “Why should we apology for slavery? We were not there!”
    We were not there during the Civil War either! So why must we continue to fight it?
    We want to honor the men who fought and died to maintain slavery. But have we properly honored the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the former South Carolina slaves who had to demand the right to fight and die for this country in WWI and II? Or who went off to fight and die to stop the spread of communism in Korea and Vietnam but returned home to SC to face Jim Crow?

  22. Brock Townsend

    “The problem with this flag is the location”
    Nothing could be more appropriate than with the Confederate Soldier’s Monument.

  23. Ready to Hurl

    The Confederate Soldiers’ Monument pays tribute to South Carolinians who fought and sacrificed– albeit for a wrong cause. The monument already memorializes the willingness of a previous generation to fight for what they considered right.
    The flag is a symbol of a rebellion– a failed attempt to destroy the USA. It’s a symbol of a defeated attempt at sovereignity.
    Display the flag in a museum where, hopefully, it can be put into context.

  24. Steve Lough

    I am a new fan of Mayor Bob! Count me in to help in whatever small way I can to move the Confederate flag to a suitable, non-Statehouse grounds, place.
    Please notify me of the meetings of this new group so I can attend (according to my work schedule). Thank you for starting this blog!

  25. Matt Woolsey

    I agree there’s no better place for the Confederate flag than with the Confederate monument, but it should be attached; and the monument, flag and all, should be placed where it doesn’t block the view of the State House from Main Street.
    If it has to stay on the State House grounds, it should be between the Daughters of the Confederacy monument and the Strom Thurmond statue. The lawmakers who love it can then choose offices that look out onto that square, and those who don’t can choose other offices. If not attached to the monument, the flag should be in the State Museum and the Confederate monument should still be placed in said square.

Comments are closed.