S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley Defended Confederate Flag

by Jo Yurcaba

On Monday, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley called for the removal of the confederate flag from the state's capitol grounds. Haley is responding to pressure from state lawmakers to push for a vote on removing the flag from the capitol building after the flag was found to be featured heavily in photos of 21-year-old Dylann Roof, who confessed to shooting and killing nine people at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, according to Talking Points Memo. A 2010 video shows Haley voicing support for the confederate flag, though, and even comparing it to Black History Month. On Monday, Haley called for the flag to be removed from South Carolina's capitol building in Columbia, saying the flag "does not represent the future of South Carolina." She added, "We know taking it down will not bring back the people who were killed."

Haley's views apparently changed in light of the horrible tragedy at Emanuel AME Church. The 2010 video, which was unearthed by The Wall Street Journal in 2010, presents her views as drastically different. The video shows Haley doing an interview with the Palmetto Patriots, a local activist group in South Carolina that aims to "fight attacks against Southern Culture" and talks with candidates "to ensure compliance with conservative values," according to the WSJ. The group questioned all of the GOP candidates, but they only asked Haley about her views on the Civil War because she is an Indian-American who was born into the Sikh faith and later converted to Christianity as an adult, according to WSJ.

In the video, the interviewers say, "We'd like to know what your position is on the confederate flag," and Haley responds:

For those groups who come in and say they have issues with the confederate flag, I will work to talk to them about it. I will work to talk to them about the heritage and tell them that this is not something that is racist, this is something that is a tradition that people feel proud of. And [I would] let them know that we want their business in this state and that the flag was a compromise in the state among all people and that they should accept as a part of South Carolina.

The interviewer then actually asks "Would you support a Confederate history month in the state?" And Haley says:

I mean, yes. It's part of tradition. The same as when you have Black History Month and you have Confederate History Month and all of those... As long as it's done where, in a positive way, not in a negative way, and it doesn't go to harm anyone. And it goes back to the traditions of the people who are wanting to celebrate it, then I think it's fine.

Then, when the interviewer asks why she thinks the Civil War was fought, Haley says "you had one side of the war that was fighting for tradition," and another side "that was fighting for change." She never specifically uses the word "slavery," to describe that "tradition," according to the video.

Last month, it seemed like her views hadn't changed. She defended having the confederate flag at the capitol building because "not a single CEO" had complained about it. She said she was aware of South Carolina's racist image problem, but that the state and the country have moved past those days, according to Salon:

But we really kind of fixed all that when you elected the first Indian-American female governor. When we appointed the first African-American U.S. senator, that sent a huge message.

The decision to remove the flag would ultimately be left up to state legislators, though President Barack Obama already said he believes it should no longer fly in any part of the country. Spokesman Josh Earnest says Obama has maintained for years that the Confederate flag "should be taken down and placed in a museum where it belongs," according to the Associated Press.

Images: Getty Images; jecarter4/YouTube (2)