Monday, June 22, 2015

The Confederate Flag is Coming Down!

WE WON!  Nikki Haley said there would be no winners.  No Losers.  She was wrong.  All of South Carolina has won a state that will be a little closer to accepting and celebrating our beautiful diversity.

As for her motives, she wants to come down on the right side of this issue historically - as she has been on the wrong side all along.  It couldn't be clearer that the flag would come down fairly soon.  The momentum has shifted that way.  Even a few Republicans have been starting a movement to get it off the statehouse grounds.  By making her announcement today, Governor Haley gets to look like a real "take charge" leader, someone who is compassionate and in touch with the people and the issues.

This is from on October 14th of last year.

Nikki Haley:  It's OK to have the Confederate flag at the statehouse because not "a single CEO" has complained

Republican Gov. Nikki Haley defended the Confederate flag’s presence on South Carolina’s statehouse grounds, declaring in a debate Tuesday that the flag isn’t an issue because “not a single CEO” has complained about it.

Parting ways with Democratic challenger Vincent Sheheen, who called for the flag’s removal, Haley acknowledged that the flag was a “sensitive issue” but rejected the notion of removing it.

“What I can tell you is over the last three and a half years, I spent a lot of my days on the phones with CEOs and recruiting jobs to this state,” Haley said. “I can honestly say I have not had one conversation with a single CEO about the Confederate flag.”
Conceding that South Carolina had suffered an image problem in the past, Haley asserted that the state had moved beyond those days.
Nikki Haley: It's OK to have the Confederate flag at the statehouse because not "a single CEO" has complained

I couldn't be happier that she changed her mind on this issue.  Heidi and I wept as the Governor read her speech.  Almost certainly the flag will be removed from the South Carolina Statehouse grounds.  We should never stop fighting for social justice.  God knows there is a lot to stand against.  For example, the statue of Ben Tillman is still within sight of the Statehouse steps.  That statue represents the very worst of the Old South, the old ways.  But for now we can pause, catch our breath, be amazed at this historic moment, and celebrate this strongly symbolic gesture that things are indeed changing in South Carolina.

It is crushingly sad to know that it had to take something so tragic as the murders at the Emanuel AME Church to inspire this change.

I'll post more of the pictures I took at the rally to bring down the flag at the Statehouse on Saturday.

We won, you guys.  WE WON!

Take It Down Rally in Columbia, SC

We went to the rally to take down the Confederate flag on Saturday night.  I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.  But one poem was read during the speeches.  It was by the poet laureate of the Confederate army after the Civil War ended.  His name was Abram Joseph Ryan.  It's called The Conquered Banner.
By Abram Joseph Ryan
FURL that Banner, for ’t is weary;
Round its staff ’t is drooping dreary:
    Furl it, fold it,—it is best;
For there ’s not a man to wave it,
And there ’s not a sword to save it,        5
And there ’s not one left to lave it
In the blood which heroes gave it,
And its foes now scorn and brave it:
    Furl it, hide it,—let it rest!
Take that Banner down! ’t is tattered;        10
Broken is its staff and shattered;
And the valiant hosts are scattered,
    Over whom it floated high.

Oh, ’t is hard for us to fold it,
Hard to think there ’s none to hold it,        15
Hard that those who once unrolled it
    Now must furl it with a sigh!
Furl that Banner—furl it sadly!
Once ten thousands hailed it gladly,
And ten thousands wildly, madly,        20
    Swore it should forever wave;
Swore that foeman’s sword should never
Hearts like theirs entwined dissever,
Till that flag should float forever
    O’er their freedom or their grave!        25
Furl it! for the hands that grasped it,
And the hearts that fondly clasped it,
    Cold and dead are lying low;
And that Banner—it is trailing,
While around it sounds the wailing        30
    Of its people in their woe.
For, though conquered, they adore it,—
Love the cold, dead hands that bore it,
Weep for those who fell before it,
Pardon those who trailed and tore it;        35
And oh, wildly they deplore it,
    Now to furl and fold it so!
Furl that Banner! True, ’t is gory,
Yet ’t is wreathed around with glory,
And ’t will live in song and story        40
    Though its folds are in the dust!
For its fame on brightest pages,
Penned by poets and by sages,
Shall go sounding down the ages—
    Furl its folds though now we must.        45
Furl that Banner, softly, slowly!
Treat it gently—it is holy,
    For it droops above the dead.
Touch it not—unfold it never;
Let it droop there, furled forever,—        50
    For its people’s hopes are fled!

Friday, June 19, 2015


I have so many thoughts swirling around in my mind that I don’t know where to start.  But writing is generative, so I’ll just begin.  Somehow it may shape itself.

Heidi has been crying.  And she’s been glued to the news.  It happened right here in our state.  Dylan Roof.   The kid is from our home town.  A Bible study at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.  Hate.  Love.  Evil.  And for many – now forgiveness.  It’s almost unbelievable.  How did we get here? 

There is no need to go over the events.  You must know by now.  But there are circumstances that are worth considering. “We don’t have all the facts, but we do know that, once again, innocent people were killed in part because someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a gun,” President Obama said. 

A good friend of mine is getting married to a man from South Korea.  She was our student teacher, so naturally when she was going to introduce him to our second graders we prepared questions.  “What’s the biggest difference between South Korea and South Carolina?” asked one of our inquisitive ones.

“In South Korea there are no guns,” was his immediate reply.  No guns.  So this wouldn’t have happened in South Korea.  It really is that simple. 

When violence like this occurs, you just know that FOX “News” pundits and gun rights advocates will say, “This is no time to have a conversation about gun control…  Guns don’t kill, people kill people…  Unbelievable as it sounds, our SC Governor Nikki Haley said it this morning on FOX’s Fox and Friends…  The "time right now is not right for South Carolina to be having the gun control debate.”  I guess we never learn.  That's what was said after Sandy Hook and Aurora and when Gabby Giffords was shot and the rest were killed in Arizona.  For the guns rights groups there is never a right time to talk about rational gun laws.  Governor Haley was in complete agreement with the gun rights groups who were outraged at President Obama’s comments that, “this type of violence does not happen in other advanced countries.” 

Governor Haley told Fox “News” that, “Apparently he’s got a job to do, but my job is that there are nine families who are incredibly hurt.  There is an Emmanuel Church that’s besides themselves.”  My question is – What is Nikki Haley’s job?  Apparently one of her priorities is supporting the absolute right for everyone to own a gun.  These are some of her statements about her positions from –

Make concealed weapons permits easier
Few things are as clearly defined as the right of individual Americans to own and use firearms. The right to bear arms was deemed so critical by our Founders that they spelled it out in absolute terms, and any governmental action that undermines that right is in turn undermining the very freedoms that built our great nation. I hold a Concealed Weapons Permit myself, and in this state makes it difficult for CWP holders to rightfully carry--we need to make the rules that govern carrying far more simple
Source: 2010 Gubernatorial campaign website, "Issues", Nov 2, 2010

Founding fathers gave us the absolute right to bear arms
The right to bear arms was deemed so critical by our Founders that they spelled it out in absolute terms, and it is my belief that any governmental action that undermines that right is in turn undermining the very freedoms that built our great nation. I hold a Concealed Weapons Permit myself, and in this state we have issues that make it difficult for CWP holders to carry. As governor, I will continue to fight against any government infringement on the 2nd Amendment.
Source: 2010 Gubernatorial campaign website, "Issues", May 2, 2010

As Bizarre as it sounds, Governor Haley supported a bill that made it legal to carry guns without any permit or gun safety training.  That bill passed in April of this year.  So, in SC: there is no permit required to buy a gun, no registration required, no license required, carry permits are allowed, no assault weapons laws, and no restrictions on magazine capacity.  

The governor was quick to call for the death penalty in this case.  On the TODAY Show this morning, she said that if Roof is convicted that he should be put to death. “This is a state hurt by the fact that nine people innocently were killed. We will absolutely want him to have the death penalty.”

However, many of the victim’s families did not turn to anger.  “I forgive you,” Nadine Collier, daughter of 70-year-old Ethel Lance, said at the hearing, her voice breaking with emotion.  “You took something very precious from me.  I will never talk to her again.  I will never, ever hold her again.  But I forgive you.  And have mercy on your soul.”

So here is our governor who says we should not even begin to entertain the notion of thinking about stricter gun control but who calls for the death penalty for Roof if he’s convicted.  She says that the president is playing politics by suggesting that we should "shift how we think about the issue of gun violence collectively."  She is above the politics of the situation for it is her responsibility to care for the families of the victims.

confederate flag

If she were really thinking of the victims, she might consider how ridiculously easy it is to buy and carry a gun in SC.  She might make background checks, waiting periods, gun safety classes all a part of responsible gun ownership.  I think the victims and the church would truly appreciate that.   It would take courage to take that kind of stand.  Her friends at FOX “News” might not go along with it.
The victims and their families might appreciate the overt signs of racism being removed from the State House grounds.  Governor Haley could realistically do something about that.  The Confederate flag was flown above the capitol building beginning in the early 1960’s to demonstrate to African Americans that they were still inferior to Whites regardless of the Civil Rights guaranteed by the Federal Government.  It still flies on the State House Grounds.  It would take courage to take that flag away from our honorable seat of government and put it into a museum where it belongs. 
SC still honors racist murderer Ben Tillman with a bronze statue near the State House steps.  He helped to organize a white supremacists’ massacre of African Americans.  He incorporated laws that blocked Black citizens from holding office in SC for almost a century.  He openly threatened to kill any Black man who attempted to vote, and publicly claimed to have kept that threat.  
Governor Haley walks by that statue every single day that she goes into work.  I bet the families of the victims would appreciate that statue being taken down.  And perhaps even an apology for the 75 years it has been there as another reminder of White supremacy.  That would take courage on Governor Haley’s part. 
 There is so much to be sad about. 
But there is also reason to be hopeful. Forgiving Roof?  Not demanding blood for blood? 
That is an example of real courage. 

The loss of those beautiful, amazing people who were killed needlessly in the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church left a void that will never be filled.  But perhaps this will be the moment for the people in South Carolina to accomplish some things that should have been done a long time ago.  Perhaps this tragedy will be a catalyst for some much needed change in our state.
It's never been that hard to buy a gun
Now they'll sell a Glock 19 to just about anyone
The seeds of tragedy are there
In what we feel we have the right to bear
To watch our children come to harm
There in the safety of our arms
With all we disagree about
The passions burn, the heart goes out

And we're a long way gone
Down this wild road we're on
It's going to take us where we're bound
It's just the long way around
- Jackson Browne - from “The Long Way Around”