Sunday, Jan. 21, 2007
needs way to deal with Confederate flag
21, 2007 -- In a lot of ways, the Confederate flag is in a
more prominent position now on the Statehouse grounds than
it was seven years ago when it was atop the Statehouse dome.
Instead of flying 180 feet in the air, it's closer to eye
level on Gervais Street in front of the Capitol. And that
seems to bother people more and more.
In the last week, two Democratic presidential candidates
- - U.S. Sens. Joe Biden of Delaware and Christopher Dodd
of Connecticut - - have called for the flag to be moved off
Statehouse grounds. Six years ago, Republican presidential
contender John McCain got in hot water with members of his
party over his call for the flag to be taken off the Statehouse
The NAACP still has an economic boycott of the state, even
though it seems to be relatively ineffective. And the NCAA
still has a policy it won't play championship games in the
state because of the flag, although the organization is set
to re-examine the policy in the coming week, according to
Over the next year, all major presidential candidates will
flood into the Palmetto State to try to lure voters into choosing
them since both parties have prominent first-in-the-South
primaries. For some candidate, South Carolina is likely to
be a break-out state as our population more accurately mirrors
the rest of the country, compared to lily-white Iowa and New
So it's not a far stretch of the imagination to know that
as candidates try to make a name for themselves, one issue
will continue to come up over and over: the flag. Some of
it will be driven by the media, some by political ambition.
But all of it will portray more negative images to the rest
of the nation - - that South Carolina can't get over the Civil
War. In a state that is flirting with a major investment from
Google, has attracted a world-class aircraft factory recently
and has some of the world's top scientists for hydrogen energy
research, the specter of the Confederate flag looms. Despite
our gains, the flapping flag on the Statehouse grounds will
open the state up to jokes, fuel old stereotypes and irritate
wounds that remain unhealed.
It's time for this nonsense to stop. Three basic options
First, we can do nothing. If this option is picked, the divisiveness,
meanness, politicization and polarization will continue.
Second, state lawmakers, who are the only ones who can make
a decision on the issue, could furl the flag and honor it
in a museum. That's the best and most prudent approach to
showcase that South Carolina is actually part of the 21st
Unfortunately, it is almost 100 percent unlikely. When state
lawmakers moved the flag to its present location in 2000,
they checked the issue off their list and sent it to legislative
purgatory. Most lawmakers - Republican and Democratic - kind
of figure they've dealt with the issue. In their minds, there's
not much advantage to working on it - and that goes double
for many Republicans who depend on a right-wing base for electoral
So what can be done?
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Perhaps there's a third way to ameliorate media tensions
among presidential contenders and halt the expected barrage
of negative flag stories. A wise out-of-state politician suggests
a major state organization should create a common agenda for
candidates to agree upon to diffuse the issue.
Best positioned for such a task is the South Carolina Chamber
of Commerce, a business-oriented group that knows negative
publicity is very bad for business in the state. Here's a
suggested statement for the Chamber and/or sister statewide
organizations to consider getting presidential candidates
of all parties to agree to:
"We urge South Carolina legislators to take another
look at the issue of the Confederate flag being on the Statehouse
grounds and to develop a new compromise that will respect
the traditions of the past but help the state forge ahead
into the opportunities of the future."
The flag needs to come off the Statehouse grounds now. But
if it can't, at least we can start talking about what's next
Andy Brack, publisher of S.C. Statehouse
Report, can be reached at email@example.com.
Another great cartoon from Bill McLemore:
1/15: Historian highlights SC's part in Revolutionary War
NOTE: The first two letters are longer
than typically allowed, but they are filled with such interesting
historical facts that we thought all would enjoy.
To the editor:
Thank you for the column
on Palmetto Day. The role of our state in the Revolutionary
War and the founding of the nation is, unfortunately, often
either misunderstood or ignored. All too frequently today
modern histories begin the Revolutionary War at Lexington
and Concord [fair enough]; then on to Bunker Hill and Saratoga
and finally to Yorktown. Bam! It's all over. The war in the
South is ignored. It was not always the case. Earlier American
histories--even those written by New Englanders paid tribute
to the contributions and sacrifices of Southern patriots--especially
Battle of Sullivan's Island
(Image courtesy S.C. Historical Society)
The war in our state was a vicious, bloody struggle. In 1780,
the year that the British invaded and occupied the state,
1,000 Americans in uniform were killed in battle; of these,
660 died in South Carolina. Of the 2,000 American soldiers
wounded in battle that year, 1,800 were casualties in the
Palmetto State. In the last two years of the fighting, 18
percent of all American patriots killed in the Revolution
fell in South Carolina and 31 percent of all Americans wounded
during the war were wounded here. Remember that there were
twelve other states and the war lasted from 1775 to 1783--yet
look at the cost paid in American patriot lives in the Palmetto
George Bancroft, a Bostonian and this country's first great
historian wrote glowingly about the valor and patriotism of
South Carolina's Revolutionary generation:
"Left mainly to her own resources, it was through bloodshed
and devastation and the depths of wretchedness that her citizens
were to bring her back to her place in the republic by their
own heroic courage and self-devotion, having suffered more,
dared more, and achieved more than the men of any other state."
That courage, valor, and sacrifice deserves to be recognized.
New Englanders in Massachusetts and elsewhere have a holiday
honoring the men of Lexington and Concord. Should not we South
Carolinians be just as proud of our Revolutionary ancestors--and
at the same time celebrate their patriotism with a holiday
uniquely our own?
-- Dr. Walter Edgar, USC historian, Columbia, S.C.
Drayton played key role too
To the editor:
I read with interest your article on the idea of having a
"Carolina Day" in place of Confederate Memorial
Day on May 10th. I think that is a wonderful idea. However,
I must take exception to some of your history. The names you
mentioned are certainly noteworthy in Marion, Laurens, Pinckney,
Rutledge, Moultrie, Jasper, Sumter and Pickens.
There is, however, one very notable figure you left out.
I will tell you that without this name, the rest were just
foot soldiers sailing without a rudder when this man is left
out of mention in their presence. His name is William Henry
Drayton of Charleston S.C. There is a factual book complete
with footnotes and documentation written in recent years that
can be purchased in the Gift shop at Drayton Hall.
You are correct in your assertion that the Yankees buried
over after the civil war a lot of facts about S.C. contribution
to the Revolutionary War. I daresay that without William Henry's
contribution, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina may
well have stayed loyal to the Good King George, and we may
not have won our independence. The Indians may well have sided
with the King as well, if it had not been for William Henry
Drayton. The Palmetto Tree is our symbol because of this man.
It is also true that we use fireworks to celebrate the Fourth
of July because of this man's recommendation to the Continental
He died young in 1778 from a mysterious illness aboard a
ship just off the coast of New England while working for the
new country. In fact, the Continental Congress thought so
much of this man's work that they erected a bronze statue
of him that sits just outside the front of Freedom Hall in
Philadelphia, PA. ...
William Henry Drayton was the Continental Congress's go-to
guy when they needed to persuade large groups of people to
the cause. You can rebel against any tyrannical leader when
you feel things are unjust, but you never succeed until you
have educated leaders that come to you cause. William Henry
was just such a man. He recently was named to the South Carolina
Hall of Fame along side Senator Fritz Hollings in Myrtle Beach,
SC. I would gladly join any movement to change Confederate
Day to Carolina Day. You see, William Henry Drayton was my
GGGG Grand Father.
-- Charles E. Drayton Sr., Sumter, S.C.
Applaud Carolina Day comments
To the editor:
I read your commentary that appeared in Sumter's ITEM on
Monday 1-15. As a 'card-carrying' member of the DAR, DAC,
Daughters of the War of 1812 and Colonial Dames of the XVII
Century, I applaud your comments. I still resent the fact
that George Washington no longer has a day set aside for him
in February that probably was changed for commercial reasons
rather than a knowledge of history.
Regarding the coverage of the Martin Luther King, Jr. birthday
I do wish Biden and Dodd would go back home and address national
issues rather than tell us to remove the Confederate flag
from the Statehouse grounds. Talk about a 'do-nothing' Congress...
Thank you for your perspective on the Revolutionary War and
There is work afoot with the Francis Marion Trail Commission
many of these skirmish sites in the Midlands of SC.
-- Sue A. Pitts, executive director, Sumter County Historical
- 12/28: Read
cheap drinks bill again, Speaker Pro Tem Doug Smith,
- 12/26: Need
to work on education reform, Jim Kappler, Anderson,
- 12/24: Holding
breath on legislative season, Chip Brown, Conway,
- 12/22: Voting
changes needed, Anne Demuth, Charleston, S.C.
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