Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican candidate for president, said Friday that "it's time for people in South Carolina to revisit" the decision to fly the Confederate battle flag at his state's capitol. Graham made the suggestion during an interview with CNN in Charleston just blocks away from the church where a white man allegedly murdered nine African-American worshippers in an effort to trigger a U.S. race war.
The rebel battle flag flies atop a pole near a Confederate soldier statue on the state capitol grounds in Columbia. It was moved there from the top of the capitol building after a political compromise 15 years ago. Ironically, the law forbids the governor from lowering the flag to half-staff along with the state and American flags in honor of the shooting victims, who include a state senator.
"Well, at the end of the day it's time for people in South Carolina to revisit that decision," Graham told CNN. He added the decision to remove the flag "would be fine with me, but this is part of who we are."
"The flag represents to some people a civil war, and that was the symbol of one side," he said. "To others it's a racist symbol." He conceded that it has "been used in a racist way."
President Obama renewed his call -- first made while campaigning in 2007 -- for the flag to be removed from the pole and placed in a museum. "The president has said before he believes the Confederate flag belongs in a museum, and that is still his position," White House spokesman Eric Schultz told reporters Friday.
The flag controversy has been renewed by the revelation that Dylann Roof had a Confederate battle flag on the front of the car he used to drive to Emanuel AME Church in Charleston where he allegedly gunned down nine people on Wednesday night.
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