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As seems to be the case, whenever national news presents a new divisive issue to discuss, the question must be posed to the 2016 candidates to see where they stand. The tragic murder of nine people at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church in Charleston has underscored the question of whether the confederate flag should continue flying anywhere on the capital grounds in South Carolina given the racial motivation for the killings.

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ABC News has gathered the candidate positions, I’ve assembled them below.

In favor of removing the flag:

Former New York Gov. George Pataki, a Republican, was one of the first 2016 contenders to call for the flag’s removal.

“In the 21st century, that flag shouldn’t be on the Capitol ground in the state of South Carolina,” Pataki said on Fox News. “I think they’ll do the right thing. They’ll remove the flag.”

Jeb Bush, also a Republican, believes the Confederate flag should be taken down from the South Carolina State Capitol, as was done in Florida during his tenure as governor, a Bush spokesperson told ABC News.

Lindsey Graham, one of South Carolina’s Republican senators, called for the removal of the flag, saying it would be “another step towards healing and recognition” as the state mourns the murder of nine African Americans at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston last week.

“In the worst of tragedies, we have seen the best of South Carolina. Today, I am urging that the Confederate Battle Flag be removed from statehouse grounds to an appropriate location. 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,” Graham said.

Hillary Clinton, a Democrat, weighed in on the South Carolina confederate flag debate back in 2007 and still holds the view that it should be removed.

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, a Democrat, called for the flag to be removed in a speech at the U.S. Conference of Mayors in San Francisco on Sunday.

“What a terribly jarring and callous sight then — in the wake of this racist massacre — to see the American flag at half-staff, while above it at full-staff over the state capitol of South Carolina flew a Confederate flag,” O’Malley said. “If the families of Charleston can forgive … can let go of their anger … is it really too much to ask the state government officials of South Carolina to retire the Confederate flag to a museum?”

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, described the flag as a “relic of our nation’s stained racial history” when calling for its removal.

Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker, who has yet to announce whether he will run for president, initially said the people of South Carolina should decide whether the flag is removed, but later announced his support for taking down the flag after South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley called for its removal.

No firm position on the matter:

Many declared and potential 2016 candidates wouldn’t give a clear answer on whether the flag should be removed. Republican candidates including Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, Rick Perry, Marco Rubio, and Rick Santorum have argued the decision should be made by the people of South Carolina.

“This is a decision that needs to be made here in South Carolina,” Santorum, a former senator from Pennsylvania, told ABC News’ Martha Raddatz on “This Week” Sunday.

“We’ll let the states decide that, but again, just like the gun issue, let’s have that debate at the right time. And right now we should all be in mourning,” Louisiana Gov. Jindal told ABC News’ Rick Klein in an interview Friday.

“I don’t personally display it anywhere. So it’s not an issue for me,” Former Arkansas Gov. Huckabee said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday. “That’s an issue for the people of South Carolina.”

“I think that’s a question for South Carolina. And the last thing they need is people from outside of the state coming in and dictating how they should resolve it,” Cruz said this weekend.

“I understand the passions that this debate evokes on both sides,” the senator from Texas told the Washington Post, “both those who see a history of racial oppression and a history of slavery, which is the original sin of our nation … [and] those who want to remember the sacrifices of their ancestors and the traditions of their states, not the racial oppression, but the historical traditions.”

“I applaud Governor Haley for her leadership at this difficult time. I appreciate and respect her statement that ‘This is South Carolina’s statehouse, it is South Carolina’s historic moment, and this will be South Carolina’s decision,'” said Rubio, of Florida. “I have no doubt that given how the people of South Carolina have dealt with this tragedy so far, they will continue to inspire the nation with their courage, compassion and unity.”

“Well, I can tell you, you can put up Confederate flags everywhere or you could get rid of them,” Carson said on Fox News Sunday. “It’s not going to make any difference. What’s going to make a difference is do we change people’s hearts and minds. Now, I do recognize that some things are inflammatory. … The Confederate flag causes a lot of people angst and they’re not able to see beyond that. And I think the people of South Carolina should really sit down and have an intelligent discussion about what can they use that captures their heritage, captures the heritage of America and allows them to coexist in peace.”

“I don’t think it’s my decision. I think it’s the people of South Carolina’s decision,” Fiorina told reporters Friday. “I think it’s clearly a symbol that is very offensive to many, but my personal opinion is not what’s relevant here.”

“The decision to remove the Confederate flag needs to be made by the people of South Carolina, and Gov. Haley’s leadership today honors the people of Charleston, and the families of the victims of last week’s horrific hate crime. Removing the flag is an act of healing and unity, that allows us to find a shared purpose based on the values that unify us,” Perry said. “May God continue to be with the families of the victims in Charleston, and the great people of South Carolina.”

ABC News did not immediately receive responses from the campaigns of Lincoln Chafee, Chris Christie, Rand Paul, and Donald Trump.

The divisions cut somewhat politically, and even further into differences between which candidates are relying primarily on southern votes to carry them in the primary contest. As noted by the Washington Post, the confederate flag is nothing new in the world of politics, though it seems to creep into the national conversation every so often.

May God bless the people of Charleston and the families who lost loved ones in this hate-filled attack on humanity.

26 COMMENTS

  1. As soon as I heard that Romney called for removal of the flag, I knew it must be wrong.

    I mean, I don’t think the flag should be there, since it’s a symbol of white supremacy to the 40% who don’t like it PLUS probably 20% who like it.

    BUT–it’s up to the state. If the state wants to look that bad, I don’t want to throw them a lifeline.

    • The so called Confederate Battle Flag was never an official flag of the United States Confederacy. Just as the Che Guevara flag flying at official looking gatherings or the NRA AR-15 M4 Machine Gun Flag (that reads) Come and Take it are not official flags yet all are offensive to some. We need to remember that a piece of material has yet to ever shoot up a church or a school.

          • Goethe…That quote raised my blood pressure. The Land of Cotton is precious to all with Southern heritage and we agree enslaving another is wrong. Slavery was just one of the causes of the Civil War, it was primarily an economic war. The War is part of our heritage and one cannot get rid of history by simply rewriting it. The majority of our founding fathers, George Washington, Thomas
            Jefferson, James Madison (an endless list) were slave owners. Where is the scorn for them? One of the primary reasons for seceding was Southerner’s demanding their State’s Rights. And that cry is still reverberating loudly today.
            Reviewing history, one finds the Emancipation didn’t actually give the Black population freedom. It took a Texan in 1964 to accomplish that task. Unfortunately, there is no law that can get into the human mind to erase racism. Just listen to the Immigration discussions of our Congress and presidential candidates.

          • -or-

            Oh, I’m glad I’m not in the land of cotton
            Old times there are best forgotten
            Go away…

            Can’t recall where I hears that forty-odd years ago and couldn’t find it.

        • Nate — you finally figured out that what I’ve been saying for years is true…?

          That the ‘Tess Liehard’ character was nothing but a pernicious anti-American uber-liberal shill, posing as a “regular” person here — so, now all this creature’s posts have been finally removed by you. About time!

          Time to make a decision on Swastika Boy, too (that posts the same tripe as Tess did under “Progressive Republican”) in order to keep on displaying its Nazi Symbol with each post….

          • I didn’t remove any of them. She may have deleted it herself.

            Your avatar is undermining your message and credibility even further. You’re working to censor everyone who disagrees with you. How does that make you better than them?

            • OK — but you, or Goethe, just removed my last 4 on topic posts…so you have no moral ground to stand on….

            • You’ve been banned before for endless spamming, personal insults, and general poor behavior. You don’t play well with others, it’s painfully obvious.

              So, knock it off already, stick to the issues. Your presence here is inconsequential so don’t push it.

  2. Let’s erase history…for the sake of idiotic political correctness.

    Get rid of the Confederate Flag, because a minority feels it’s “bad”, and while we are at it — get rid of the US Flag, because during the civil war Butcher Grant killed more Americans than any one else!

    Tit for tat…?

    LOL

    • Surfisher, you hit a valid point.

      What is offensive to one may not be to another, and vice-versa. Whatever the topic is, SOMEONE will be offended somewhere.

      This is America. Speech is unfettered. You WILL be offended and you should cherish it because it means we have free expression and you can rebut the offensive speech with your own speech.

      • Dude. Such BS.

        As I noted above, this has NOTHING to do with “free speech.” Free speech is for individuals, not the government. When the government makes a statement, it is speaking on behalf of the people, and the people have a right to tell that government to shut the f- up.

        It is a decision which should be made in South Carolina, and I’ve heard very little complaint about the Republican governor pushing for removal. I believe if you polled the people of the state, you’d find that nearly all Blacks hate the flag, many white sympathizers hate the flag (especially the large number of transplants from the north), and even most of the minority who like the flag see it as a potent symbol of white supremacy and hatred.

        Special note: It is illegal to use the Swastika in Europe, so Neo-Nazis there use the Confederate Flag as their symbol. That should tell you something.

        • The flag is just a tip of the iceberg for erosion of free speech. Yes, I’m aware of what you’re saying, and you’re right, free speech is for individuals, not governments.

          You are, as expected, fine with this since it doesn’t effect you. It doesn’t affect me either directly but I see where we are headed. You’re never able to look down the river. You just accept things, little by little, until one day do look up and realize how far you let it slide because you think it’s just one small thing. First they came..

          I’ve seen a half-dozen talking heads on cable news in recent days wanting to do the following:

          1) “Go after” hate groups (whatever that means? Speech is protected, even that which we detest)

          2) Consider taking down the Jefferson Memorial (he owned slaves, you know)

          3) Ban the Confed flag from retail stores (Let’s ban fat-free chocolate milk too, it offends me)

          4) Question the American flag as offensive to Native Americans, Mexicans, and anyone else who hates it so maybe we should not display it as much as we do? (Can’t let anyone be offended..EVER)

          5) And so on..

          If SC wants to remove it, I have no issue with that. Let them remove it and if you’re not a SC citizen, then shut up about it!

          I applaud your naive view that society is tempered enough to simply stop at one thing which we find offensive and then park the train.

          This is just getting started..

          Go to Amazon or eBay, and you can buy stuff with Nazi logos. But as of yesterday, both sites have pulled any and all confederate flag stuff. You can even buy a bust of Joseph Stalin.. but not a Dukes of Hazard car..

          • So. . .now you want to limit the freedom of speech of the talking heads???

            And you want to forbid companies from making their own business decisions about what they will sell??

            You’re such an alarmist–“THE SKY IS FALLING!!”

            Yes, a lot of stupid things have been said. More stupid things will be said over the near-term. Remember when people (you?) wanted to ban all planes that had touched down in Africa, because of ebola? Whenever a crisis hits, people run around wildly, waving their arms. But eventually, they calm down.

            This will all blow over.

            My own view is that
            (a) whether the flags come down is up to the people in the states in question. If they want to continue to look stupid, it’s up to them. People from outside the state should shut up about it. Although ridicule is appropriate.

            (b) if businesses want to show their view by pulling stuff off their shelves, that’s up to them. But again, I suspect it will be temporary.

            (c) my own view, which they can ignore, is that philosophical symbols such as this can be used by individuals, but it’s not appropriate on public grounds.

            (d) the flag was NOT common in the south after the war. It was not brought back until 1961, as a battle symbol for segregation. People who cry about heritage don’t know the heritage.

            • No, I’m not the alarmist here, I’m pointing out the wave of stupidity that pours out like a tsunami when idiots are given a microphone. The alarmists are the ones who think that, at the drop of a hat, we must now cleanse American society of any and all things which reference history of our nation.

              Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Why would we cleanse ourselves of this history? We should learn from it, so as to make our country and humanity better. Instead we’re running around now renaming parks in case someone is offended.

              Retailers can do what they want, I can say it’s insane. Apple removed a historical civil war battle game from their App store because it has the Confederate flag in it on the confederate side. Well DUH! It’s historically accurate! What flag should they use?

              So how do we discuss the civil war now? Should school textbooks even show the flag?

              These are stupidly silly questions you will be forced to care about because of the powers that be.

              It just stuns me how fast the stupidity runs nowadays. Something happens, and within days, people are reacting without any reasoning or rationality.

            • I changed ISPs, so I’m not getting notices of new posts.

              The thing that is obvious about the Confederate flag thing is that it’s primarily internal. In the case of Indiana’s law, it was amended because CAPITALISM forced it. For their own financial good, the state legislature changed its mind.

              That’s not what’s happening in the South. It is all going too quickly for that.

              My impression is that the majority of Southerners wanted the flags down, but needed a catalyst. Blacks, of course, remember that it was kept in a linen cabinet until 1961, when it “came out” as a symbol of segregation and defense of the Old South.

              But this is not the Old South. The New South wants to be seen as a modern competitor. So in addition to Blacks and liberals, who hate it as a racist symbol, the business community sees it as a symbol of an era when the area was both reviled and ridiculed.

              The South was just looking for a reason to throw off that Albatross, and the church killings were just an excuse.

            • As for teaching the past, you are right, the flag DOES belong in history books (like the Swastika), not on public grounds.

              The White House doesn’t fly the Union Jack, for crying out loud.

          • This is a good example of how the media work. They want to find a new “angle.”

            In this case, they are absolutely right that the majority of the terrorism on American soil (except 9/11) has been perpetrated by white men, often against black people, sometimes gays.

            Sometimes it’s been to try to start a race war (such as Manson). Sometimes it’s against the government (Timothy McVeigh). Sometimes it’s against technology (Ted Kaczynski)

            The media are right. In your home or in your city, you’re much more at risk from domestic terrorists, not foreigners. But to be sensational about it, they said “beware white people.”

            Their problem is that they are as alarmist as you.

  3. Changing my avatar to show that the politically correct creatures that call themselves politicians are weasels….

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