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Confederate Flag at the South Carolina State House: What Next?
Columbia, SC (WLTX) -- Ten years after the Confederate flag was moved from the dome of the State House to the monument in front, it continues to ignite differing opinions.
Some say the Confederate flag represents division and oppression. Others say, it means heritage and culture. What the flag stands for and what should be done with it are questions that bring answers as varied as the people you ask.
"I agree with both sides, it is a part of our history, I think it's a part of our history that should be taught to everybody here in South Carolina, but it should not be in a place of sovereignty here at the State House. It should not fly at the State House grounds," said Representative Chris Hart.
Hart says the issue is important enough that he repeatedly introduces a bill for its removal to the House of Representatives. Every day he introduces the bill, another representative shoots it down.
Hart says lawmakers refuse to talk about issues like job creation and education, while time and taxpayer dollars are wasted on issues like the flag; however, Hart says he brings it up every day hopeful that the flag's removal will change attitudes.
"I think that the flag sends a symbol to the rest of the country that we're some back woods, pickup-driving, tobacco-chewing bigots, which we aren't. I'm trying to change it. It's not the flag, it's the mentality that's associated with the flag," Hart said.
Representative Leon Howard agrees with Hart and that our state has been, "Damaged tremendously by the flag with business opportunities."
Howard says the flag's visible location sends the wrong message to visitors.
"That taxpayers and the citizens of this state deserve better. South Carolina is the confederacy of the mind," Howard said.
The South Carolina Conservative Action Council wants the flag moved up to its former location on top of the dome.
William G. Carter, a chairman of the group said, "We feel that's a form of ethnic cleansing. That people of European American descent have their culture and their heritage, just like black people. And at the same time, if we're going to live in a so-called multi-cultural society, where do we fit in? Where do we stand?"
Secretary Nelson Waller agrees. "It stands for the Confederate troops who sacrificed so much and in many cases paid the ultimate price for the freedoms we know today," he said. "It stands for the South, its beautiful traditions. Its illustrious, honorable history. The South was the birth of the country. It produced numerous of the Founding Fathers and presidents. We are very proud of the South."
Carter says the Black Caucus agreed to the compromise in 2000 that moved the flag from the dome to the memorial in front. "Now the NAACP says well we're not a part of that, that deal," he said.
National NAACP President Benjamin Jealous said, "It's a very powerful symbol and its location literally at the front door of the State House is a real problem."
Jealous says that moving the flag from the dome to the monument in front was not a real compromise.
"We aren't saying that there is no place for the Confederate Flag anywhere on the State House grounds," he said.
Jealous would not say exactly what State House location would be acceptable.
"The idea is that we should be one country, not a country divided against itself and that the time for that battle has long since passed, and the time for this country to really come together as one has long since arrived," he said.
The Conservative Action Council believes the issue should be decided by voters.
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