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Statement on the Confederate Flag at the Statehouse

I love the south, and I deeply love South Carolina. All of my adult life, I have fought to defend the values and culture of this state; I have championed our commitment to traditional American values and individual liberties. That’s why I have carefully weighed the decision being debated in our state over the Confederate battle flag at the Statehouse. This must be resolved in a way that honors our state’s citizens and heritage.

The presence of the Confederate flag at the Statehouse does not date back to the time of the war between the states; it is not a piece of heritage that has been present the past century and a half at the state Capitol. Instead, it was hoisted in defiance by a Democratic state lawmaker from Aiken in 1961 in response to the civil rights movement. While the majority of the folks who support the flag remaining on the statehouse grounds would not support segregation, that was a driving factor in 1961. For that reason, it is understandable why so many South Carolinians, particularly of African American descent, consider it grievously offensive.

We have honorable people, with decent intentions, on both sides of this debate. We, as South Carolinians, must resist the prodding of the national media and politicos to demonize one another in disagreement. We must find a solution that works for all the people of South Carolina, and for the values of our state.

As such, I do support removal of the flag from the statehouse grounds. This is not because I support the whitewashing of history or the denial of heritage, but because the debate has been used as a wedge to undermine our state’s unity of values. The flag is not an active political flag, thus its presence on the grounds of the Statehouse is not the appropriate placement. I support placing this piece of our state’s history in the SC State Museum.

That being said, we cannot go so far as to scrub every vestige of Civil War or pre-Civil War history from this state. We do not need to tear-down monuments, rename streets, or ban any mention of the events of the 1860s. To do so would represent political correctness run amok.

I believe this position is balanced and inclusive. It preserves South Carolina history without polarizing our present. We are a strong, conservative state that stands for limited government, state’s rights, free-market economics, religious liberty, and traditional American values. At this time in our national life, we do not need to be distracted by debates over our state’s past, when our shared values are in such need of common defense.

South Carolina’s values are as steadfast as they are inclusive. We must continue to build our culture with people of all backgrounds playing a role. South Carolina represents hope for America, so let’s don’t allow a debate driven by outside forces to distract from our destiny.

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