Just in case it wasn’t obvious, the Confederate flag is not the state flag of South Carolina. However, the symbol most often associated with the Confederacy’s fight for independence from the Union during the American Civil War has become the center of a renewed debate in the state and elsewhere for two particular reasons:
- The racist nature of Dylan Roof‘s attack on the Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston.
- The sordid history associated with the flag, which adorns many prominent state government facilities.
- The fact that, although the U.S. flag flew at half-staff to honor the nine dead, the Confederate flag did not.
That’s because the Confederate flag poses a number of complex legal kerfuffles for South Carolinians who want it removed. According to a CNN report on Saturday:
Back in 2000, civil rights activists successfully lobbied to have a much larger Confederate flag removed from the Capitol dome. But there was a compromise. The South Carolina Heritage Act decreed that just about all other tributes to Confederate history would be virtually untouchable. The only way to change anything of that nature — including the smaller flag that was erected on the State House lawn — would be to gain the endorsement of two-thirds of lawmakers.
When the report says the Confederate flag is “virtually untouchable,” it’s actually being quite literal. The flag pole has no pulley system, and the apparatus that keeps the flag attached is locked with a padlock. No, seriously. If anything whatsoever is to happen to the flag — even simple maintenance — a two-thirds vote is required.
As for why the flag wasn’t at least flown at half-staff like its U.S. counterpart, state law requires the Confederate flag to fly at a height of 30 feet. No more, no less.
Check out the clip below, courtesy of CNN:
[Image via screengrab]
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