Nikki Haley, the former U.S. Ambassador to the United States, is attracting attention for new comments about what she says is the true meaning of the Confederate flag.
In an interview with Glenn Beck for the Blaze, the former governor of South Carolina stated that for people living in southern states, the Confederate flag had always been a symbol of southern heritage and sacrifice. Haley argued that mass shooter Dylann Roof thwarted that message when he killed nine black parishioners at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church on June 17, 2015. Three people survived the attack.
In the immediate aftermath of the 2015 shooting, Haley had publicly described the Confederate flag as having been a source of division. She also stressed that it didn’t represent South Carolina’s future.
Here’s what you need to know.
Nikki Haley Says Dylann Roof ‘Hijacked’ the Confederate Flag & Added That the Flag Became Part of the Conversation Due to National Media Coverage
Nikki Haley made the argument in the interview with Glenn Beck that the Confederate flag, which had previously flown at the South Carolina statehouse, had always been a symbol of southern pride. She dismissed the notion that the flag had anything to do with racism.
Haley stated that Dylann Roof had “hijacked everything that people thought of” when it came to the Confederate flag. She added that debate over what the flag represented picked up steam due to national media attention. Haley stated in the interview:
“We don’t have hateful people in South Carolina. There’s always the small minority that’s always gonna be there. But, you know, people saw it as service, and sacrifice, and heritage. But once he did that there was no way to overcome it.
And the national media came in in droves. They wanted to define what happened. They wanted to make this about racism, they wanted to make it about gun control, they wanted to make it about death penalty. And I really pushed off the national media and said there will be a time and place where we talk about this, but it is not now. We will get through the funerals, we’re gonna respect them, and then we will have that conversation. And we had a really tough few weeks of debate. But we didn’t have riots, we had vigils. We didn’t have protests, we had hugs, and the people of South Carolina stepped up and showed the world what it looks like to show grace and strength in the eyes of tragedy.”
Haley also explained that the state had “fallen to its knees” in the aftermath of the shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. She described the victims as “amazing” people who had loved their church and their community.
Dylann Roof’s Racist Manifesto Included Photos of Himself Posing With a Confederate Flag
Prior to the June 2015 massacre at the historic black church, Dylann Roof had shared a manifesto espousing racist hatred for African-Americans, Jews, and Hispanic people.
The manifesto included photos of Roof alongside the Confederate flag. Roof also wrote that he “hated the sight of the American flag” and included a photo of himself burning it. He wrote in part, “People pretending like they have something to be proud while White people are being murdered daily in the streets. Many veterans believe we owe them something for ‘protecting our way of life’ or ‘protecting our freedom.’ But im not sure what way of life they are talking about. How about we protect the White race.”
Roof was convicted of murder and hate crimes. In January of 2017, he was sentenced to death by lethal injection. Inmate records show that Roof is being held at a federal institute in southern Indiana.
Nikki Haley Removed the Confederate Flag From the South Carolina Statehouse While She Was Governor, Citing That the Flag Was Part of the State’s Past, Not Future
Nikki Haley was the governor of South Carolina at the time of the Charleston church shooting. Shortly after the attack, she was praised for making the decision to remove the Confederate flag from the Statehouse grounds in Columbia.
During a news conference days after the shooting, Haley stated that the Confederate flag had been a symbol of the state’s past but did not have a place in the future.
“150 years after the end of the Civil War, the time has come. There will be some in our state who see this as a sad moment. I respect that. But know this. For good and for bad, whether it is on the Statehouse grounds or in a museum, the flag will always be part of the soil of South Carolina.
But this is a moment in which we can say that that flag, while an integral part of our past, does not represent the future of our great state.
We know that bringing down the Confederate flag will not bring back the nine kind souls that were taken from us, nor rid us of the hate and bigotry that drove a monster through the doors of Mother Emmanuel that night. Some divisions are bigger than a flag. The evil we saw last Wednesday comes from a place much deeper and much darker.
But we are not going to allow this symbol to divide us any longer. The fact that people are choosing to use it as a sign of hate is something that we cannot stand. The fact that it causes pain to so many is enough to move it from the Capitol grounds.”
The Confederate flag was taken down on July 10, 2015. It is now displayed at the Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum.