In South Carolina on Monday, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush said the Confederate flag is “racist” symbol.
When he was Florida’s governor in 2001, Bush ordered a flag with a Confederate flag symbol in the corner be removed from Florida’s Capitol grounds. At Monday’s campaign event, Bush said he decided then “to do something politically incorrect.”
“The symbols were racist,” Bush reportedly said. “If you’re trying to lean forward rather than live in the past, you want to eliminate the barriers that create disagreements.”
After the massacre at Charleston’s historically black Emanuel AME church, Republican South Carolina governor Nikki Haley last week called for the Confederate flag to be removed from the Palmetto State’s Capitol grounds.
During her press conference in which she declared that that “it’s time to move the flag from the Capitol grounds,” Haley also stated that “for many people in our state, the flag stands for traditions that are noble. Traditions of history, of heritage, and of ancestry.”
“Those South Carolinians view the flag as a symbol of respect, integrity, and duty. They also see it as a memorial, a way to honor ancestors who came to the service of their state during time of conflict,” Haley said. “That is not hate, nor is it racism.” Haley said “we respect freedom of expression, and that for those who wish to show their respect for the flag on their private property, no one will stand in your way.”
But she added that “at the same time, for many others in South Carolina, the flag is a deeply offensive symbol of a brutally oppressive past.”
Days after the Charleston church massacre, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney led the charge among Republicans to get the Confederate removed from South Carolina’s Capitol by Tweeting that the flag was “a symbol of racial hatred” to many.
“Take down the #ConfederateFlag at the SC Capitol,” he wrote in a Tweet that was even praised by President Barack Obama. “To many, it is a symbol of racial hatred. Remove it now to honor #Charleston victims.”
Hours after Romney’s June 20 Tweet, Bush wrote in a Facebook post that his “position on how to address the Confederate flag is clear,”
“In Florida, we acted, moving the flag from the state grounds to a museum where it belonged,” he wrote. “Following a period of mourning, there will rightly be a discussion among leaders in the state about how South Carolina should move forward and I’m confident they will do the right thing.”
When Bush ordered the flag with the Confederate symbol removed from his state’s Capitol grounds in 2011, his spokesman said at the time, according to the St. Petersburg Times, that, “Regardless of our views about the symbolism of the… flags–and people of goodwill can disagree on the subject–the governor believes that most Floridians would agree that the symbols of Florida’s past should not be displayed in a manner that may divide Floridians today.”
Three years prior in South Carolina, Republican South Carolina Governor David Beasley lost his 1998 reelection race after he revealed that he wanted the Confederate flag removed from the state’s Capitol. Democrat Fritz Hollings, who initially raised the flag over the state’s Capitol when he was governor in 1962, recently “said he remembers that the flag went up to mark the 100th anniversary of the war, with various lawmakers and committees looking at how best to mark the anniversary, including where it started at Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor.”
“Racism had nothing to do with the Confederate battle flag in my day,” Hollings told the the Post and Courier this weekend.