No more flags, no more pole, no more ‘compromises’ that are anything but

Rep. Mike Pitts, speaking in the House this afternoon.

Rep. Mike Pitts, speaking in the House this afternoon.

This is a dangerous moment.

More than two weeks have passed since that magnificent moment of unity and purpose in the lobby of the State House. And after that moment of clarity and understanding about what the Confederate flag, flying in front of our seat of government, actually means, some House members have had time to revert to habitual modes of thinking.

And to start acting on them. Which is why there are proposals in the House to do things that would make removing the Confederate flag meaningless — by proposing to replace it with other symbols supposedly meant to honor their ancestors (or, to take this one and fly it at the State Museum). While, of course, giving everyone else’s ancestors the backs of their hands.

Worse, the state of South Carolina would be the entity giving the back of its hand to the rest of the world, and especially to those whose ancestors were slaves in this state.

What is it with these people that they can think, or even pretend to think, that a public space is meant for them to honor their personal family trees?

An approach like what they are talking about is in no way, shape or form a “compromise.” It would be their way of winning again, of continuing to have it all their way. Which is what they have so much trouble letting go of.

The “heritage” argument is so bogus that I feel foolish taking time to refute it — but it’s on my mind because a House member I don’t recognize is going on and on about that nonsense right now, on the video feed.

As I said in my column this morning, there is only one way to see that flag (or a substitute also meant to “honor” some people’s ancestors) flying in that place:

And what did the flag mean? We know. Oh, news reports will affect that priggish, pedantic neutrality peculiar to the trade: “Some people see the flag as meaning this; some see it as meaning that.” But we know, don’t we? It is a way white South Carolinians — some of us, anyway — have had of saying that, despite Appomattox and the civil rights movement: We can do this. We don’t care about you or how you feel about it.

It was a way of telling the world whose state this is.

And any “solution” that continues to fly anything there to honor anyone’s ancestors at the cost of insulting other people’s is completely out of the question. If the House is going to do that, it should just adjourn and go home now.

Because anything short of what the Senate has done — passing a bill that brings us together as ONE people, no longer dividing us by honoring some people’s separate version of reality — will accomplish anything.

All a “compromise” will do at this point is guarantee that we’ll still be arguing about this 15 years from now.

And no sane person wants that.

Don’t go by me, though. Read Cindi’s editorial on the subject today.

77 thoughts on “No more flags, no more pole, no more ‘compromises’ that are anything but

  1. Doug Ross

    Try to convince me that the path to taking down the flag would not have been easier if we had term limits in place.

    Glad you have finally come over to the “no compromises” position that I’d like all politicians to employ all the time. Vote what you believe, don’t trade one thing for another.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Well… I think the evidence is kinda neutral on that.

      The old hands — Courson, Leatherman — have led on this.

      The most prominent people who are fighting are, to my mind, relative newcomers. Lee Bright is only in his second term. Would that be covered by your limit?

      Mike Pitts has been in 12 years, though…

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Although, you know, with my institutional memory, anyone who didn’t enter the Legislature until after 2000 — after the “compromise” — is a newbie. Because that stuff seems like just yesterday to me. 🙂

  2. Dave Crockett

    I am pleased to report that my representative is present and voting today, and he even took the time to respond to an e-mail I sent around noontime today when the debate began. He went so far as to tell me that, while he’s not made an absolute final decision (because his constituents are fairly evenly divided on the issue), he is leaning strongly toward voting for the Senate bill as worded without amendments.

    His recorded votes thus far have reflected that leaning.

    OMG, the system may actually be working!

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Who said THIS in his excellent speech at the rally Saturday:

      2. Scout

        I could tell he was pretty good back at USC. I voted for him for student body president. Sadly he did not win then. Maybe one day he’ll run for Governor and then I’ll get the opportunity to vote for him again.

    1. John

      I’m afraid that my representative, Kirkman Finley, has missed or abstained from voting on several of these amendments and seems to be voting for the Quinn amendment. Apparently he thinks my part of Shandon wants to keep the flag flying for a while longer. Let’s see if he picks up on Ott’s resolutions for a quick save.

      1. Mark Stewart

        I wondered whether Kirkman was going to be able to find the resolve to stand up and demonstraight leadership.

        Tonight was a big opportunity for him. Sounds like he took a pass.

  3. Michael Rodgers

    Nearly — or perhaps even — all of his amendments should be struck out immediately — ruled OUT OF ORDER — without debate because they are not included as possible topics in the amended sine die, which referred only to the Confederate flag currently flying and the area around it including the Confederate Soldier Monument — nothing about any other monuments or any other flags.

  4. Michael Rodgers

    “Be it resolved by the House of Representatives, the Senate concurring:
    That in addition to the matters which may be considered by the General Assembly after June 18, 2015, pursuant to H. 4274 of 2015, legislation concerning the South Carolina Infantry Battle Flag of the Confederate States of America and surrounding arrangement located at the Confederate Soldier Monument on the grounds of the State Capitol Complex also may be introduced, received, and considered by each body of the General Assembly prior to sine die adjournment including, but not limited to, receipt, consideration, and disposition of conference and free conference reports, appointment of conference and free conference committees, messages pertaining to such reports, and any amendments to this legislation.”
    While “any amendments” is broad, I think our state has a single subject rule with regard to bills, and most of Pitts’s amendments are on subjects other than what the bill’s about.

  5. Doug T

    Thanks Brad for these flag postings. Contrary to some opinion, the flag removal is a big way.

    It struck me when the other day when Peeler stated the flag represented “our” heritage. “Our” heritage may be associated with slavery, segregation, racism, and discrimination by those who aren’t included in Peeler’s “our”. To me, the meaning of Peeler’s “our” is profound and has held back this state for decades.

  6. Brad Warthen Post author

    Y’all, here’s the latest from The State. The good news is that so far, all amendments have been soundly defeated:

    The debate over whether to remove the Confederate flag from the State House grounds slowed to a crawl Wednesday in the S.C. House.

    After more than two hours of lengthy discussion on four amendments — all of which were rejected soundly, the House took a break for lunch at 2 p.m. House Republicans planned to meet as well.

    More than 25 amendments have been submitted in the House. The Senate would reject any amendments added by the House. That would send the bill to a conference committee, possibly extending the flag debate into next week.

    The House took up a Senate-passed bill at about 11:30 a.m. that would lower the Confederate flag from where it is flying near the Confederate soldier monument on the north side of the Capitol grounds and retire it to a museum.

    House members speaking Wednesday mostly objected to removing the flag without replacing it with another way to honor the Confederate soldiers.

    Behind the scenes, House leaders and the governor were meeting privately….

    1. Kathryn Fenner

      There’s still going to be a monument front and center to Confederate soldiers (Actually back and center, but nobody sees it that way.)

  7. Bryan Caskey

    Your title, with the repetitive “no” made me think of this:

    No more meetin’s! No more discussions! No more Sollozzo tricks! You give ’em one message – I want Solozzo. If not, it’s all-out war, we go to the mattresses.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Yeah, a situation like this can bring out the hothead Santino in me. But I’m trying to be more like the old man, the Don…

    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      This is business, and I’m taking it very personal.

      At this point, I don’t care if there IS a police captain guarding the flag…

      1. Bryan Caskey

        [Tessio brings in a Confederate Flag, delivered with a State Museum membership card inside.]

        Sonny: What the hell is this?
        Tessio: It’s a South Carolinian message. It means the Confederate Flag sleeps in the Relic Room at the State Museum.

  8. Phillip

    These Confederate legislators remind me of the Japanese soldiers who hid out in the jungles in remote Pacific islands for 30 or so years beyond the end of WWII because they didn’t realize or believe or accept that the war was over. The difference being, of course, that these lawmakers live with all the benefits of a 21st-century information society.

    As Eva Moore just astutely pointed out on Twitter re Pitts’ and others’ tiresome recitation of their Confederate-and-earlier ancestry in this state, “Ironic that many black lawmakers can’t recite their family history the way these white lawmakers can–because of slavery.”

    1. Kathryn Fenner

      I keep being reminded of the adage “Sell what you got.” I guess if all you got is that your ancestors were somebody, that’s what you sell. To quote Jesse Jackson, “I AM somebody.”

  9. SBS

    I keep thinking of that old adage “Thank God for Mississippi.” Even their state flag still flaps in the 19th century.

    “Did you know?

    …the Mint Julep is named after Mint Springs in the Vicksburg [Mississippi] National Military Park; the first place anyone stuck a sprig of fresh mint into bourbon.
    …Vicksburg [Mississippi] did not celebrate the Fourth of July for the next 100 years following the surrender of the city on July 4, 1863.”

  10. Karen Pearson

    These days that flag, flying where it is, represents a few people saying to everyone else “It’s our heritage which includes white supremacy, white privilege; **** anyone else’s heritage!”

        1. Kathryn Fenner

          Some folks whose heritage has been completely forgotten on the State House grounds, unlike the many Confederates and Segregationists who are commemorated.

          My favorite is Strom striding confidently toward the Confederate Woman, with angel holding laurel wreath and chirrun at her feet. We know he liked the ladies.

  11. Karen Pearson

    The above post may be cruder and ruder than I usually phrase things, but flying that flag in the face of other South Carolinians whose heritage is slavery and subjugation is far, far more insulting.

  12. Brad Warthen Post author

    At this moment, the Speaker is quickly dispensing with one dumb amendment after another from Mike Pitts on the grounds that they do not fall within the purview of the sine die resolution.

    It’s a pleasure to hear him do so, one amendment at a time, with such dispatch.

    Each of these amendments is STAGGERINGLY irrelevant. Each one deals with another monument, one at a time, on the State House grounds. Pitts’ stunning excuse is that any one of these amendments will ALSO “come under attack in the future.”

    Really. I am not making this up…

    There should be a special punishment for anyone who would deliberately waste the time of the people of this state at such a moment as this…

    1. Michael Rodgers

      He’s welcome to make that case next session. Not now. Not now. It’s chutzpah now. Next session it’s worth listening to.

    2. Michael Rodgers

      Pope is saying we’ll give something to you but you have got to give something to us, and that $390K to the Confederate Relic Room is a good start but it’s not enough. No, sir, nowhere near enough. AND if you don’t give us what we want when I’m giving you what you want then you’re not showing grace, and you need to show much more grace. I’ve got the advantage because the flag’s already flying. Taking it down is me giving something to you. And you’re not going to reciprocate except for $390K to the Relic Room — not enough, my friend! That’s old South Carolina. Yuck.

  13. Michael Rodgers

    The replacers are missing several points and operating under the old South Carolina way not the new South Carolina way. They are embracing the politics of division and proposing one for you, one for us. What we’re here to do now is to take down the flag, pole, fence and all. If, next session, after all kinds of research and committee work and testimony from historians and public opinion molding etc then the replacers decide to put some flag at the monument, then they can vote on it and well, good luck, I doubt they’d get 2/3 regardless of what flag they picked. The replacers are trying to avoid all that hard work while they’ve got the 2/3 in their favor instead of against. The replacers are trying to use their advantage to get their way. Why do they have the advantage? They should start from square 1. They’re lecturing everybody else about being fair. What’s fair is that we all start from the same place, not they start with the pole already built and flag already flying etc.

    1. Kathryn Fenner

      Plus, as their mamas surely told them, the fair comes the second week in October. That’s some SC heritage.

    2. SBS

      Good points — and maybe put up something you don’t have to put a fence around as Rep. Clary said.

      1. Michael Rodgers

        Clary was awesome! Just to add that now is not the time for monument-designing and flag-choosing. It’s sine die time.

  14. Michael Rodgers

    The big question after the massacre was “Why is South Carolina flying that flag at full mast from that pole, when every other flag out in front or atop every other building is flying at half mast?” Replacing solves at most half the problem. If they want to fly another flag they should convince everyone — without forcing via the upper hand — by having a complete solution of not just a proper flag but also a proper placement.

    1. SBS

      Someone said somewhere it’s illegal to fly Confederate flag at half-mast. Or maybe I just dreamed that quote up.

      1. Michael Rodgers

        Right, the law they’re debating now says that the flag has to fly atop the pole. Of course flying it at half mast would have been ridiculous — the other half of the problem. There’s no proper protocol for it because it shouldn’t be flying officially because it’s not official etc.

  15. Michael Rodgers

    And again, the replacers are laser-focused on trying to GET something — anything! — from this debate instead of doing what their colleagues and our Governor have asked them to do. They’re being like former Illinois Governor Rod Blagoyovich. They’re trying to extract some profit from this situation. It’s sickening, really.

    1. SBS

      Yes — it’s like not being able to say goodbye. Gotta get a bone relic or a lock of hair or something to walk away with.

      1. SBS

        Sorry. That sounds crass in light of the tragedy that has brought this upon us. There are real victims; a flag is an inanimate object.

          1. SBS

            Rep. Bedingfield keeps saying honor the fighters of the Confederacy — those people. What about THESE people, these veterans of their country, state and faith? Senator Clementa Pinckney and his parishioners – veteran fighters for ALL of us. Here today.

      2. Michael Rodgers

        Yes! Well put. And more: They’re trying to use their power to make ransom demands; I’ll give you what you want but if and only if. They keep asking “both sides” to “show grace.” They divide the legislators into 2 groups and then make a demand of the other group — an insult really, saying that the other side doesn’t truly know the meaning of the word.

  16. Mark Stewart

    Not to detract from the seriousness of these considerations, but do Lee Bright and Mike Pitts share a suit and tie?

    Or is that some sort of fraternal dress code? KKK business dress, per chance?

    1. Kathryn Fenner

      Is the suit seersucker or white linen? Hard to tell.
      Seersucker is pretty common, but if it’s white linen—well, that would be mighty Beauregard….

  17. Karen Pearson

    Pitts has enough gall to be divided into 3 parts–and I kinda wish someone would. And Pope’s statement, “I’m willing to show some grace. I’m willing to work to make sure that banner comes down. What I’m asking is please, please, please, you guys show us some grace to the memory, to the heritage of the people of this state,” floors me. Apparently those he considers “the people of this state” is severely limited. Maybe he hasn’t gotten the news yet that black folks have to counted as “people” now. All of them. And maybe he thinks all of us whites who want it down are yankee agitators?

    1. Kathryn Fenner

      and has he forgotten about the numerous OTHER monuments to the Confederacy?
      I hear them saying “Show us some ‘grace’ so we can get re-elected.” Shame on them.

  18. Michael Rodgers

    Quinn wants more money for the relic room; having all the reps go on a tour with him and giving their verbal commitment for future funding isn’t enough for him because he doesn’t trust his colleagues even though they just overrode the Gov.’s veto and went with him on the tour. And again, he WANTS SOMETHING. Every time the WANTERS say “mutual respect” I scream because it means, “I’m in charge here, you POS. You’re going to have to give me something NOW if you want me to do the right thing.”

    1. SBS

      R. Quinn seems like a bully. Earlier today he actually used his body to move Rep. James Smith out of the way. Very condescending manner. And he has little faith that people will give the flag its due honor after it’s down. Very bad face on the state of South Carolina at this hour in this season.

      1. Michael Rodgers

        That’s exactly it. They’re trying to bully everyone until the SC House finally says, “UNCLE,” er… approves some amendment (ANY amendment, because you know mutual respect and so forth).

      2. Kathryn Fenner

        The Quinns do not represent one of the more exemplary strains of SC politics…

  19. Michael Rodgers

    Gov. Haley and everyone that stood by her and the SC Senate have asked the SC House to take the Confederate flag down as soon as possible, preferably before July 4th — which didn’t happen — and certainly before the KKK rallies here on July 18th. The WANTERS say, “NO, we’re going to keep that flag flying for as long as possible AND we’re going to make you give us SOMETHING because we CAN.”

  20. Michael Rodgers

    Merrill was a super-rude jerk to Horne and his point was that NO, the SC Senate can’t make us pass a clean bill, and because they dared to ask us to do it, we’re going to make them COME BACK FROM CLUB MED to pass OUR AMENDMENT, that’s how we end DIVISIVENESS, your side has to GIVE US THAT.

  21. Michael Rodgers

    Ott’s a genius: Pass clean bill and a resolution directing the Confederate Relic Room as Quinn wants and, as Ott correctly described, as the Confederate Relic Room would do anyway, especially with a resolution.

  22. Scout

    Is there a term for these very contrived fake conversations that representatives engage in to get their points across where they have a colleague planted to ask them questions so they can give the answers they want to give? It’s an odd kind of theater.

  23. Michael Rodgers

    Stavrinakis was AWESOME! The other branches of government have risen to meet this challenge, and we must also. The concerns that Quinn has have been addressed in the Senate deliberations and the House resolution. If there was secret anti-heritage hidden in the bill Sens. Bryant, Davis, and Courson, among others, wouldn’t have voted for it. Don’t play political games, do the right thing, pass a clean bill.

  24. SBS

    Leon Stavrinakis is a great speaker –he could close the deal — if only he were talking to reasonable people.

  25. Doug Ross

    If the end result of this process is either a payoff or a compromise, I don’t want to hear any more blather about how wonderful representative democracy is. Most of them can’t think of an issue without saying “What’s in it for me?”

  26. Dave Crockett

    My hope is that my representative (Bill Sandifer) will do the right thing is fading fast. *sigh*

  27. Michael Rodgers

    Clyburn asked Quinn to be a hero, and others reached out to him also, and because he saw the sincerity and the potential success of Ott’s resolution plan, Quinn is a hero: He asked people to vote against his amendment. Quinn said that with his amendment he was trying to help the SC House get to 2/3 and perhaps with Ott’s resolutions instead they may get to 2/3 without his amendment. Thank you Mr. Quinn for your efforts and for your courage and your dedication to our state.

    1. Doug Ross

      I’m not comfortable with assigning the label “hero” to someone who didn’t do anything heroic. Let’s not get too hyperbolic. He did what he should have done all along. He’ll collect his ransom for his heroism later on.

      1. Mark Stewart

        Yeah, not a hero. True, he does deserve some credit for furling his flag when it was clear his cause was lost. Interesting that he could do that personally and yet put up a fight for a symbol which was there to do the exact opposite. More ironic than heroic in my book.

        We should, however, long remember Rick Quinn for the battle he fought to prohibit a clean bill from passing the House. He wanted the Confederate flag to stay flying. End of story.

        In the years ahead, there will, hopefully, be a good deal of soul searching among all those who stood in the way of the flag’s removal – no matter what was their final vote on the matter.

        1. Kathryn Fenner

          The Quinns have a brand to protect. I’m not sure his “reverence” was so much for the flag as for their particular brand of white conservative dirty politics.

        2. Norm Ivey

          In the years ahead, there will, hopefully, be a good deal of soul searching among all those who stood in the way of the flag’s removal

          I doubt there will be, unless you mean they’ll be searching for their soul.

        3. Kathryn Fenner

          If the deaths of Senator Pinckney and the others were not sufficient, nor the grace shown by the families, nor the pleas of Governor Haley were not sufficient to move them, I doubt they will search their souls. I believe they will nurse their perceived grievances, but hopefully not while in office. They and their ilk are a dying breed, it is to be hoped.

  28. Michael Rodgers

    Fantastic, stupendous, they did it, 2nd and then, after adjourning and reconvening, 3rd reading: it awaits Gov. Haley’s signature. Wonderful. Awesome.

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