The South Carolina Senate gave its final approval Tuesday to a bill that would remove the Confederate flag from Statehouse grounds and put it in a museum. The bill is now in the House, which is scheduled to start debating it Wednesday morning. But some House Republicans have already proposed amendments that would replace the flag instead of removing it.
Rep. Mike Pitts, R-Laurens, put up several of the amendments. One would replace the Confederate flag with the SC 1st Regimental flag, which looks like the state flag but with a wreath around the Palmetto Tree. “If it is simply the flag, taking the flag that has become a racist symbol, taking it down and replacing it with another flag should be a very good compromise,” he said Tuesday. “If it’s a much larger issue and it’s scrubbing history and doing away with all Southern heritage, then there would be no compromise. I’m offering a legitimate compromise.”
The idea is that other Confederate flags aren’t associated with the KKK and other hate groups, so flying a different one would take away the racist connotation while still honoring Southern heritage.
House Democrats are outraged by efforts to keep any flag flying. Rep. Todd Rutherford, D-Columbia, says just because a different Confederate flag is used doesn’t erase what it stands for. “It will become the new symbol. It will become the new vestige of racism. It will become that heritage of the Confederacy that simply needs to be removed,” he said. While some Republicans are worried that, if the flag is removed, monuments and other memorials are next, Rutherford said, “We are not going after monuments. We are not looking at what’s next to take away from museums, from all historical perspectives. What we are talking about is a flag.”
Tuesday afternoon, the groups MoveOn.org and ColorofChange delivered to Gov. Nikki Haley’s office petitions with more than 571,000 signatures from people calling for the Confederate flag to be removed. “This flag is not representative of us as the America that I know,” said Karen Hunter, who started the petition drive.