Askia MuhammadColumnistsOp-EdOpinion

MUHAMMAD: Sorry Governor, the Confederate ‘Heritage’ is Hatred

The Honorable Nimrata Randhwa Haley — better known as Nikki Haley — is a diplomat and politician who served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations for nearly two years. A Republican, she served as governor of South Carolina for six years and three terms as a representative in the state legislature.

But when it comes to America’s racial history, she is also as dumb as a box of rocks.

You see, Nimrata Randhwa, proud daughter of Sikh immigrants from India, should know better, if only from personal observation, that her nostalgic and grossly inaccurate notions about the Confederacy and the bloody U.S. Civil War are simply, feel-good, wishful thinking from a wannabe white person, who has denied her own heritage of suffering at the hands of white people in her fatherland, in order to be viewed as a loyal native of the state where the bloodiest U.S. war ever, was declared at Ft. Sumter in 1861.

Even though she graduated from Clemson University in the Palmetto State, she mindlessly declared that the Confederate flag had been “hijacked” by the racism of a single white supremacist terrorist — Charleston murderer Dylann Roof, who killed nine Black worshipers as they prayed in 2015 — and that before then, “people saw it as service, sacrifice and heritage.” She got that all wrong. She should really know better.

After its record as the battle flag for the war to preserve the enslavement of millions of people stolen from Africa, the Confederate flag was the favorite symbol of those resisting the civil rights movement, including the government of South Carolina that she eventually led.

For example, in 1948, the pro-segregation Dixiecrat party flew the Confederate flag as part of its openly racist campaign. Their platform declared: “We stand for the segregation of the races and the racial integrity of each race.” They opposed “the elimination of segregation,” “social equality” or “the repeal of miscegenation statutes.” At the Dixiecrats’ 1948 convention, supporters of Strom Thurmond — then governor of the state — held up Confederate flags and pictures of Robert E. Lee.

Don’t be confused. The Dixiecrat and the Democrat parties were segregationist parties until Lyndon B. Johnson’s successful push for civil rights legislation under the Democratic banner in the 1960s, and Richard M. Nixon’s “Southern Strategy” converted the party of Abraham Lincoln and abolition, into the new party of white supremacy with his 1972 reelection campaign. Indeed, Thurmond, the un-reconstructed Dixiecrat, eventually became a Republican, while serving in the U.S. Senate.

Haley has obviously become intoxicated drinking white supremacy Kool-Aid. When she says South Carolina doesn’t have “hateful” people, she is clearly delusional about the flag and its history there. In Charleston in 1875 — 140 years before murderous Dylann Roof traveled across the state to intentionally kill people in a Black church — armed members of the Carolina Rifle Club of Charleston marched through town behind a Confederate flag in an effort to intimidate Black voters as part of a statewide white-supremacist campaign that included voter intimidation, ballot-box stuffing and terrorism.

Maybe that story was edited out of the social studies books the governor studied when she grew up there in the 1980s. I can see how someone like her, wanting to fit in, wanting to be like every other South Carolinian who wasn’t a Black person, how she could overlook the reason even Confederates themselves referred to the wicked, racist behavior they were defending as “The Lost Cause,” “The Peculiar Institution.”

The hateful white supremacy movement did not hijack the memory of anybody’s Confederacy, Gov. Haley, unless that is you don’t remember Julian Carr, who led the United Confederate Veterans. He campaigned for the U.S. Senate in 1900 under the slogan “The White Man Must Rule or Die.”

Haley is supposed to be a smart cookie. How could she not know what most all Confederates know and understand about their cause and its symbols? The Confederate battle flag was often called the “stainless banner.” And there was never any ambiguity about what it stood for: white pride. “[A]s a people we are fighting to maintain the Heaven-ordained supremacy of the white man over the inferior or colored race,” is how one 1863 newspaper editorial put it.

But Haley says — with a straight face yet — that those who criticize her shameless comments are nothing more than “outrage peddlers.”

Well … you want some mumbo sauce with that outrage, Governor?

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Askia Muhammad

WPFW News Director Askia Muhammad is also a poet, and a photojournalist. He is Senior Editor for The Final Call newspaper and he writes a weekly column in The Washington Informer.

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