Clock tick­ing for Con­fed­er­ate flag?

Cape Breton Post - - WORLD -

The South Carolina House opened what could be its fi­nal de­bate over the Con­fed­er­ate flag Wed­nes­day, de­lib­er­at­ing a pro­posal that might re­move the ban­ner from the Capi­tol grounds be­fore the end of the week.

The House is un­der pres­sure to act af­ter the state Se­nate passed its own mea­sure, which is sup­ported by Gov. Nikki Ha­ley. But some Repub­li­cans pro­posed changes to the Se­nate bill that would pre­serve some kind of sym­bol in front of the State­house to hon­our their South­ern an­ces­tors.

Law­mak­ers who want to bring down the flag are fight­ing the pro­pos­als be­cause any change to the Se­nate bill could de­lay by weeks or months the flag’s re­moval, per­haps blunt­ing mo­men­tum that has grown since nine black church­go­ers were killed last month dur­ing Bi­ble study at a his­toric African-Amer­i­can church in Charleston.

The House re­jected four amend­ments to the Se­nate bill. All of them would take down the flag. One would have planted the state flower —yel­low jas­mine —where the flag cur­rently flies on a flag­pole by a mon­u­ment to Con­fed­er­ate sol­diers. Another would have set up a dis­play case of his­tor­i­cal flags by the mon­u­ment.

Op­po­nents of re­mov­ing the flag talked about grand­par­ents who passed down fam­ily trea­sures and lamented that the flag had been “hi­jacked” or “ab­ducted” by racists.

Rep. Mike Pitts, who re­mem­bered play­ing with a Con­fed­er­ate an­ces­tor’s cav­alry sword while grow­ing up, said for him the flag is a re­minder of how dirt-poor South­ern farm­ers fought Yan­kees not be­cause they hated blacks or sup­ported slav­ery, but be­cause their land was be­ing in­vaded.

Those sol­diers should be re­spected just as sol­diers who fought in the Mid­dle East or Afghanistan, he said, re­call­ing his own mil­i­tary ser­vice.

Pitts then turned to a law­maker he called a dear friend, re­call­ing how his black col­league nearly died in Viet­nam.

“I’m will­ing to move that flag at some point if it causes a twinge in the hearts of my friends,” Pitts said. “But I’ll ask for some­thing in re­turn.”

The de­bate be­gan less than a day af­ter the U.S. House voted to ban the dis­play of Con­fed­er­ate flags at his­toric fed­eral ceme­ter­ies in the Deep South.

If House mem­bers back the Se­nate bill, Gov. Nikki Ha­ley could quickly sign it into law, po­ten­tially bring­ing the flag down within days.

Also Wed­nes­day, state po­lice said they were in­ves­ti­gat­ing an un­spec­i­fied num­ber of threats against South Carolina law­mak­ers on both sides of the flag de­bate

The flag de­bate re­gained ur­gency last month af­ter state Sen. Cle­menta Pinck­ney and eight oth­ers were fa­tally shot.

A white gun­man who po­lice said was mo­ti­vated by racial ha­tred is charged in the at­tack.

“I’m will­ing to move that flag at some point if it causes a twinge in the hearts of my friends. But I’ll ask for some­thing in re­turn.” S.C. Rep. Mike Pitts

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.