The flag debate: Literally topsy-turvy

images[1]In their desperation to keep the Confederate battle flag flying on the state Capitol grounds, a few South Carolina legislators have produced the kind of absurd environment that would supply William Schwenck Gilbert — the literary half of Gilbert and Sullivan — with plenty of material to fuel the kind of satire that made the British pair’s comic operettas so successful.

A confederate flag flies over the South Carolina State House.

The symbolism and history of the Confederate flag is absurd enough, but a few representatives in the state House of Representatives were expected to propose two dozen amendments that would have the effect of delaying a vote to remove the flag from its perch on the Capitol grounds in Columbia, S.C. Some amendments actually call for the American flag to be flown upside down, according to news reports in Politico and The New York Times.

That’s literally topsy-turvydom. Topsy-turvy was a phrase long associated with Gilbert, who slashed, sliced and hacked apart Victorian England’s mores and class division with glee in the operettas on which he collaborated with Arthur Sullivan, who wrote the music. “Topsy-Turvy” was even the title of director Mike Leigh’s 1999 movie in which Sullivan threatened to break up the legendary partnership of the late 19th century.

museumThe House debate follows the Senate’s overwhelming votes earlier this week to lower the flag and relocate it in the Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum. In South Carolina’s struggle to join the modern world, it is a sample of topsy-turvydom that the still-living T. Leland Summers has his head in the 19th century while the deceased Willie Gilbert had his head in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Summers, commander of the Sons of Confederate Veterans chapter in Columbia, wrote his membership: “We must light up the switchboard in the Senate chamber and House chamber to the point it blows up.”

What Gilbert could do with that notion today on London’s West End or our Broadway.

After the Confederate battle flag has flown on the Capitol grounds for more than 50 years, it took the June 17 massacre at Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church to provoke the current drive to remove the flag. Charleston County prosecutor Scarlett A. Wilson said Dylann Roof, 21, was charged with nine counts of murder, three counts of attempted murder and one count of a weapons charge, the Times reported. Roof is white and nine victims were black.

Gov. Nikki R. Haley, a Republican, urged the removal of the flag after she learned that Roof was photographed prior to the shootings with the Confederate battle flag.

The amendments could hamper legislative action because the House permits 20 minutes of debate on each amendment.

Let us remember that flag supporters like Summers would argue that his ancestors fought in the Civil War to retain states’ rights. No doubt that Gilbert would depict states’ rights as the right to deny others their rights.

Gov. Haley Fixes Appointing White Supremacist as Campaign Co-Chair

— by Jacob Miller

Last week, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley announced the appointment of Roan Garcia-Quintana to her Grassroots Advisory Committee. A report from the Southern Poverty Law center showed that Garcia-Quintana had deep links to the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC). CCC is designated as a nationalist hate group. After pressure from the Southern Poverty Law Center and NJDC, Governor Haley announced she was removing Garcia Quintana. Garcia-Quintana’s white supremacist statements and actions have also been well documented by the Anti-Defamation League.

Post and Curier report after the jump.
Today Brian Hicks of the Post and Courier wrote about the decision:

Last week, the National Jewish Democratic Council pointed out Garcia-Quintana’s affiliation with the Council of Conservative Citizens — a group that opposes the promotion of “non-white” races over European Americans — and asked the governor to dump him.

The cynical view here is that Haley used the holiday weekend to distance herself some from unnecessary controversy. Self-preservation is nothing new from the governor’s office.

But maybe Haley actually didn’t want to associate with a guy who holds intolerant views, which would bode well for her political maturity.

Or maybe she just realized it would have looked hypocritical to get indignant about Jake Knotts’ “raghead” comment and then ignore this.

Whatever the reason, she did the right thing.

S.C. Governor Selects Hate Group Member as Campaign Co-Chair‏


Garcia-Quintana (left) and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (right)

— by Aaron Keyak

The new report from the Southern Poverty Law Center, indicating that South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley has chosen a member of the Council of Conservative Citizens to serve as a campaign co-chair, is deeply disturbing for all Americans. But as an American Jew, this is particularly unsettling given the CCC’s links to anti-Semitism. It is unacceptable for any politician to accept support from someone affiliated with an SPLC-designated white nationalist hate group, let alone select one as a co-chair of her re-election campaign’s grassroots steering committee. Haley must drop the support or have her campaign defined by her co-chair’s hateful affiliation.

More after the jump.
SPLC reported:

In anticipation of her 2014 re-election campaign, the Tea Party darling has put together a 164-member steering committee comprising folks from all 46 of her state’s counties. And on that list is one “Republican leader” and Tea Party activist named Roan Garcia-Quintana of Greenville.

The name won’t ring many bells outside of the South Carolina political world. But he’s better known in white nationalist, anti-immigrant and neo-Confederate circles.

Garcia-Quintana is a lifetime member and current board member of the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), which is listed as a white nationalist hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The CCC is the linear descendant of the old White Citizens Councils, which were formed in the 1950s and 1960s to battle school desegregation in the South, and has evolved into a crudely racist organization. Its website, for example, has published pictures comparing pop singer Michael Jackson to an ape and referred to blacks as “a retrograde species of humanity.”

Garcia-Quintana is also a rabid nativist, even though he’s a naturalized citizen who was born in Havana. He’s executive director of the anti-immigrant group Americans Have Had Enough, based in Mauldin, S.C., where he lives. At the 2008 CCC conference held in Sheffield, Ala., Garcia-Quintana referred to Latino immigration as an “illegal alien invasion.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center and Anti-Defamation League both published background information on the Council of Conservative Citizens detailing the organization’s long anti-Semitic history.