"Is The American Flag Next?": Conservative Media Freak Out Over Confederate Flag Removal

››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

After South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley (R-SC) announced that she supported the removal of the Confederate battle flag from the state Capitol, right-wing media figures responded by attacking the flag's possible removal as "cultural cleansing" and asking whether the American flag would be next.

South Carolina Governor Calls For Confederate Flag's Removal

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley: "It Is Time To Move The Flag." On June 22, NBC News reported that Governor Nikki Haley called on the state legislature to remove the Confederate battle flag from the state Capitol following a mass shooting at a historically black church that killed 9 people:

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley called for the removal of the Confederate flag from the grounds of the state Capitol Monday, less than a week after a 21-year-old white man gunned down nine people at a historic African American church.

Support for the flag to come down from leaders around the state and around the country has been steadily growing in the wake of the devastating attack.

"Today, we are here in a moment of unity in our state, without ill will, to say it is time to move the flag from the Capitol grounds," Haley said during a news conference attended by Republican senators Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott, along with other state leaders. [NBC News, 6/22/15]

Walmart, Amazon, Sears, And EBay Will No Longer Sell Confederate Flag Merchandise. According to CNN, the retailers Walmart, Amazon, Sears, and eBay announced they will ban the sale of Confederate flag merchandise:

Walmart, Amazon, eBay and Sears all announced bans on the sale of Confederate flag merchandise, amid an intensifying national debate over the use of the controversial flag.

The announcements are the latest indication that the flag, a symbol of the slave-holding South, has become toxic in the aftermath of a shooting last week at a historic African-American church in Charleston, South Carolina. Gov. Nikki Haley announced in a Monday afternoon news conference that she supports removing the Confederate flag from the state capitol grounds. [CNN, 6/23/15]

Right-Wing Media Respond By Lamenting The Flag's Removal

Fox's Guilfoyle: "Is The American Flag Next?" During the June 23 edition of Fox News' The Five, co-host Kimberly Guilfoyle responded to calls for the Confederate battle flag to be removed from South Carolina's Capitol grounds by asking whether the American flag would be next:

JUAN WILLIAMS: I would just say, quickly, look at the fact that it was put up 100 years after the Civil War. So it's not even people who are grieving the deaths of the soldiers, it's 100 years after where people who are seeking to defy Brown v. Board of Education, taking part in the massive resistance movement against integration, social integration, and political equality for blacks.

GUILFOYLE: Is the American flag next?

WILLIAMS: Oh, my God. I love the American flag! It symbolizes the country I love. Why would I --

GUILFOYLE: People can also try to suggest that this was -- symbolizes wars, oppression. I was having a thoughtful conversation the other night with Laura Ingraham and she was saying to me, you know, at one point is somebody going to say they're offended by this flag. We see people disrespect the American flag. [Fox News, The Five6/23/15]

Rush Limbaugh: Removing Confederate Flag Is About "Destroying The South." On the June 23 edition of his radio program, Rush Limbaugh claimed that liberals' true mission in removing the Confederate flag in South Carolina is "destroying the South as a political force." Limbaugh then predicted, "the next flag that will come under assault ... is the American flag":

LIMBAUGH: It's not going to stop with the Confederate flag, because it's not about the Confederate flag. It is about destroying the South as a political force. It's about isolating, targeting, and identifying the South as Dylann Roof.

[...]

The speed and rapidity with which the left is conducting this assault on all of these American traditions and institutions -- if you don't think the American flag is in their crosshairs down the road, you had better stop and reconsider. The American flag is what? It's the symbol of America. The left, what? Doesn't like this country very much and never has. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show6/23/15]

Weekly Standard's Bill Kristol: Liberals Are "Expunging History In A Frenzy Of Self-Righteousness." In a series of tweets on June 23, The Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol accused liberals of "expunging every trace of respect, recognition or acknowledgment of Americans who fought for the Confederacy."

[Twitter, 6/23/156/23/15]

Bill O'Reilly: "Historical Context" Of Confederate Flag 'Represents Bravery.' Fox host Bill O'Reilly asserted that the Confederate flag "represents bravery" on the June 22 edition of his program telling Fox's Juan Williams that "it represents, to some, bravery in the Civil War because the Confederates fought hard" (emphasis added):

O'RILLY: You say the Confederate flag is a symbol of hate and you believe that.

JUAN WILLIAMS: That's the way I feel when I see it.

O'REILLY: Okay, okay. And absolutely 100 percent legitimate. For some other people who see it in a historical context --

WILLIAMS: What's the historical context?

O'REILLY: It represents bravery.

WILLIAMS: Oh get out of town.

O'REILLY: In war.

WILLIAMS: They put it up in anger when they were trying to mass resist the Civil Rights Movement in the 60's.

O'REILLY: You know as well as I do that it represents, to some, bravery in the Civil War because the Confederates fought hard.

[...]

But that's what it represents. You're right historically, but in their minds, that's what it represents. And in your mind it represents hate. So, and everybody should know what the two sides are believing. [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor6/22/15]

Fox's Starnes: "The Cultural Cleansing Of The Southern States Begins." In a June 23 post on Fox Nation, Fox News Radio host Todd Starnes framed the South Carolina flag removal as "a full-fledged cultural cleansing of the Southern states":

A full-fledged cultural cleansing of the Southern states is underway as lawmakers debate whether to remove Confederate flags and rename schools and parks named after Confederate war heroes.

Republicans are leading the charge in South Carolina and Mississippi to remove the Confederate flag -- called a symbol of hate and racism.

Wal-Mart jumped on the band wagon, too - announcing they will remove all Confederate merchandise from its stores.

Has the Department of Homeland Security classified the Sons and Daughters of the Confederacy as right-wing hate groups, yet? [Fox Nation, 6/23/15]

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