SC public backs leaders’ decision to bring down Confederate flag

THE moment -- the flag starts coming down.

THE moment — the flag starts coming down.

In case you had a creeping feeling at the back of your mind that were it not for the fact that we are, thank God, a republic instead of a direct democracy, the Confederate flag would still be flying…

I offer this reassuring news:

Two-thirds of South Carolinians agreed with the General Assembly’s decision in removing the Confederate flag from the State House grounds this summer after the Charleston church shootings, a Winthrop University poll released Wednesday found.

Less than a year ago, just one-third of South Carolinians thought the Civil War icon should come down after flying at the state’s most prominent public building for five decades.

That was before an African-American pastor, who also was a state senator, and eight of his parishioners were gunned down at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston in June. Authorities brought hate crime charges against the accused killer, who is white.

Slightly more than half of white respondents thought lawmakers made the right decision in taking down the Confederate flag, the Winthrop survey found. More than nine in 10 African-Americans backed the decision….

At least, I find it reassuring to know that, while I still praise our elected officials (starting with Nikki Haley) for courage and leadership in bringing the flag down without waiting around for polls, even if they had, the result would have been the same.

So South Carolina really has grown up, finally, and put the flag behind it.

That is wonderful news.

15 thoughts on “SC public backs leaders’ decision to bring down Confederate flag

  1. Brad Warthen Post author

    As I said so many times, the goal wasn’t getting the flag down. The goal was becoming the kind of state that would take the flag down.

    And finally, we are that.

    This is huge.

  2. susanincola

    That doesn’t make me feel reassured, I’m afraid. Maybe we should say we’ve become HALF the kind of state that would take it down.
    Still glad it’s down, though. At least those who still fly the flag and those outside the state can see that the “full faith and credit” of the state is not behind the flag.

  3. David Carlton

    It may interest you to know how Ed Kilgore at the *Washington Monthly* headlined this poll: “New Winthrop poll shows plurality of SC Republicans wish Confederate Battle Flag still flying on Statehouse grounds.” I pointed out to him that another way to put it is “less than half of SC Republicans wish Confederate Battle Flag still flying on Statehouse grounds” –I find that more remarkable.

  4. bud

    Come on Brad. The flag issue really is quite small. When we fund road repair, legalize pot or take Medicaid money then I’ll believe we’ve grown up as a state.

  5. Brad Warthen

    Something odd about news coverage of the poll, although perhaps the problem is with the poll itself…

    Coverage notes a split between those who say the flag is a symbol of southern pride and those who see it as a racist emblem. How is that a split? Isn’t it obvious that it is BOTH?

    I’m guessing the poll forced people to choose one or the other, which it shouldn’t have done. Such presumptions add unnecessarily to the polarization of our society.

    1. MPrince

      The flag is a symbol to be BOTH proud and ashamed of? The contradiction in that is plainly evident. There is nothing about the Confederate era of our collective history that should make us proud. It was a foolish enterprise recklessly launched on behalf of a morally reprehensible institution. Continuing to insist that there was something in it to be proud of is, at best, a sop to those who still believe, against all evidence, that it represents something of value worth preserving, thereby perpetuating a view of the past warped by the self-serving interpretations of dead generations.

    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      You’re missing the point, M.

      There’s no question that it’s been a focus of pride and of repression. Both points are beyond dispute.

      I mean, come on: Is the phrase “white pride” not associated with brandishing racist emblems? There’s no contradiction here; the two things go together.

      You seem to be falling into the error of supposing “pride” to be a positive thing, as opposed to something that goeth before a fall. It’s just a thing, a thing that exists, and I’m describing it. I have no idea why you would take that as an endorsement, as you seem to do.

      1. MPrince

        “I have no idea why you would take that as an endorsement, as you seem to do.”

        Because you fail to appreciate that your view may not be self-evident in what you write, which was that the poll itself “add[s] unnecessarily to the polarization of our society.” This suggests that both views are equally valid. Besides that, the poll offers no false dichotomy. It’s the symbol itself that’s created the polarization — one arising from a conflict between historical fact vs. sentimentalism.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          But you’re acknowledging that the sentimentalism exists, right? Which implies that you agree that it is, among other things, a symbol of regional pride. You know, the Lost Cause and all that. It exists. It is. I don’t see much point in saying otherwise.

          1. MPrince

            in that case, it’s pointless to assert that the poll unnecessarily promotes division since all it’s actually doing is reflecting existing opinions (which is the whole purpose of a poll anyway). So all you’ve accomplished, then, is to contradict yourself and sew confusion.

  6. Brad Warthen Post author

    Curious about how the question was asked, I went and looked at the poll:

    flaq question.

    And yeah, people were prompted to choose one or the other — although I’ll credit the drafter of the poll for acknowledging indirectly that it CAN be both, by saying, “Do you think the flag is more a symbol of racial conflict or of southern pride?”

    What jumps out at me in this result is that 7 percent of respondents rebelled against the choice and volunteered that it was “equally both.” Good for them. That number would have been higher, inevitably, if the choice had been offered.

    Also note, below that, that 9 percent of black respondents volunteered that. So there was no racial divide in that accurate perception.


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