South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) has said all the right things since 9 of her constituents were gunned down in their church on Wednesday night. She even choked up talking about how the tragedy is a tragedy for all the people of South Carolina. That’s a great foundation to work from. Now, Nikki Haley should use her bully pulpit to push for the admonishment of the Confederate flag. The flag, a symbol of racism and hate, is still the state flag — and flew at full-mast the day after the shootings.
As you might expect, reasonable people have started a petition to have the flag removed. But a spokesperson for the governor, tried to pass the buck, when explaining why the symbol of hate wasn’t at least flying at half-mast:
“In South Carolina, the governor does not have legal authority to alter the flag. Only the General Assembly can do that.”
Though that may be technically true, as governor, Haley holds enormous sway and influence in her state. After all, her fellow citizens have twice elected her to speak for them. Unlike the legislature, Gov. Haley has a bully pulpit — she could use it to force the issue, and put intense pressure on the Assembly to act. This is the moment for strong leadership. If Gov. Haley truly wants to help the Black community in South Carolina heal, she should prove it and help remove a symbol of racism and hate — forever.
UPDATE 6/22/15: Gov. Haley has decided to call for the removal of the Confederate flag, multiple newspapers reported.