NEW YORK -- Following the mass killing in Charleston, South Carolina, last week, the state’s governor finally called for the confederate flag to be removed from its flutter near the capitol building in Columbia, South Carolina on Monday. Remarkably, it took the racially motivated murder of nine African-Americans for Republican Nikki Haley to suggest the civil war relic should probably come down.
After mounting pressure to remove what many Americans decry as an emblem of slavery and segregation, Haley told a press conference: “That flag, while an integral part of our past, does not represent the future of our great state." Although the governor said the flag was used by most South Carolinians to honour their forebears, Dylann Roof, the 21-year-old charged with the murders of nine people in an African-American church, had a “sick and twisted” view of the banner.
She said that people in the state were still free to fly the flag outside their homes, but in regards to the emblem flying above the statehouse, the events of the past week “call on us to look at this in a different way.”
South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, who is running for the Republican presidential nomination, backed Hayley’s move to remove the flag, saying on Monday: “After the tragic, hate-filled shooting in Charleston, it is only appropriate that we deal once and for all with the issue of the flag."
Earlier on Monday, Barack Obama gave a blunt appraisal of the shooting, telling a podcast that "it's not just a matter of it not being polite to say nigger in public." The country's first African-American commander in chief added: "That's not the measure of whether racism still exists or not. It's not just a matter of overt discrimination. Societies don't, overnight, completely erase everything that happened 200 to 300 years prior."
Obama noted that "no other advanced nation on Earth" suffers these incidents with such frequency, ascribing that to the “legacy of slavery." He said: “Jim Crow, discrimination in almost every institution of our lives, you know, that casts a long shadow, and that’s still part of our DNA that’s passed on."
When asked how to stop the killings, he said it was possible to “make events like this less likely," namely passing laws to control gun rights in the US, however said the "grip of the NRA on Congress is extremely strong."
Last week, a board member of the National Rifle Association responded to the Charleston killings by blaming the pastor and state senator who was gunned down in the massacre. Writing on the TexasCHLForum.com, Charles Cotton said Clementa Pinckney was to blame for the slaughter as he voted against a law that would have allowed congregants to carry concealed guns in churches.
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