Stop the Bullsh*t: Nikki Haley Not the Trump-Smashing Confederate Flag Hero You’re Being Sold


For months now, I’ve periodically had to listen to mainstream media types (even people I respect) tout South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley as some sort of heroic rising star who defeated the evil Confederate flag in South Carolina, and I’ve mostly just rolled my eyes, posted the intermittent angry tweet, and been done with it. On the occasion of her response to President Obama‘s State of the Union address, though, the gushing over Haley on MSNBC just got to be too much for me:

The only saving grace was Joy Reid hinting at the inauthentic substance of Haley’s newly-burnished star. The twin pillars of this unwarranted adulation are Nikki Haley’s “precise moment of leadership” in ridding the South Carolina Capitol of the Confederate flag, and “taking on the anti-immigrant stance of Donald Trump,” neither of which are true. Haley defended the Confederate flag right up until she was forced to take it down, and even days after the Charleston shooting was still lying about the process that had kept it on the Statehouse grounds. Haley was also not willing to disagree with Donald Trump on the substance of his immigration plans when she was asked about them before bashing Trump was cool.

MSNBC, and everyone else in the overwhelmingly white mainstream media, seems to have forgotten the utter cowardice Haley displayed when first asked about removing the Confederate flag, the flying of which she had previously defended, two days after the Charleston massacre that saw nine black parishioners murdered by Confederate flag enthusiast Dylan Roof.

Not only did Haley refuse to take a position, she asserted that to do so would be harmful, and also told the same lie that Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and others told that day, that the decision to fly the flag was something everyone had agreed to:

“The Republicans and Democrats and everybody came together on a consensus to bring the Confederate flag down off of the dome. And they put it on a monument out in front. I think that conversation will probably come back up again. And you what we hope that we do things the way South Carolinians do. Which is have the conversation, allow some thoughtful words to be exchanged, be kind about it. Come together on what we’re trying to achieve and how we’re trying to do it. I think the state will start talking about that again. We’ll see where it goes…”

But what’s your position on the issue?

“You know, right now, to start having policy conversations with the people of South Carolina, I understand that’s what ya’ll want, my job is to heal the people of this state… There will be policy discussions and you will hear my come out and talk about it. But right now, I’m not doing that to the people of my state.

Of course, that “agreement” was only a compromise in that, like the “3/5 compromise,” it was the most that white people were willing to do. The black caucus in South Carolina voted against it, and the NAACP instituted a boycott that lasted until this past weekend.

And just what did Haley mean that she wouldn’t “be doing that” to the people of South Carolina? Exactly which people would be traumatized by their governor taking a position on the removal of that flag? At this crucial moment, with wounds still fresh, Haley’s concerns were with the feelings of pro-Confederate flag whites, people like Dylan Roof, instead of the decent people of the state and the country.

Keep in mind that this was two days after the shooting, and one day after her emotional first words about the Charleston massacre, yet Governor Haley still couldn’t state her position on the Confederate flag. For all we know, that position was still what it had been a few months earlier, when she defended 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. I can honestly say I have not had one conversation with a single CEO about the Confederate flag.”

That previous stance might explain what happened next, because on Monday, June 22, five days after the shooting, Governor Haley decided it was time to “do that to her state” after all, and urge the flag’s removal:

So what happened between that Friday and that Monday to change Haley’s mind? Certainly nothing that she said in her remarks about bringing the flag down, or in her previous refusal to comment. The wound was still as fresh on June 22 as it had been on the 19th, but in those intervening days, Governor Haley was presented with mounting public opinion, and a recent record of corporations wreaking havoc with states that erred on civil rights-related issues. Whether she received any CEO phone calls, or just saw the bold writing on the wall, it had to occur to Haley that keeping the flag would be bad for business. Her state was 150 years late to the party, and she was five more days too late.

If the Charleston massacre had had any real effect on Nikki Haley’s views, you would think it would cause her to at least consider the merits of the late Pastor Clementa Pinckney‘s signature issue and life’s work, voting rights. Weeks after his death, Haley was asked about that, and here’s how she responded:

“You know, the flag coming down was a moment that I felt like needed to happen. That doesn’t mean that I philosophically changed the way I think about other things. I’ve never seen the voter ID as a racial issue, for whites, for blacks, for Asians, for anyone.”

So, the racist, terrorist murder of nine of her fellow citizens spurred Haley to remove the Confederate flag 150 years after they lost their war of treason, but not to even remotely consider the views of those who were killed a few weeks befire re-fighting it. Not a second’s pause.

As for Donald Trump, Haley was considerably less aggressive when first asked about his odious views on immigration, agreeing with him on the substance, but chiding him for his “tone”:

“I understand his frustration. The frustration that he has about illegal immigration a lot of people have. The difference is we need to be very conscious of our tone. We need to be very conscious of how we communicate. There are a lot of legal immigrants that have made this country the place it is today.”

The fact is that despite the superficial narrative that the mainstream press is trying to get you to swallow today, that Donald Trump is somehow an aberration in the Republican Party, is as fake as Haley’s Confederate flag heroism. After Trump, Carson, and Cruz, the rest of the field is still competing to see how badly their policies can screw immigrants without rounding them all up.

This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.

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