CNN's Foreman Frets Over Confederate Flag, Inserts Nazi Comparison

Friday's The Situation Room on CNN ran a report by correspondent Tom Foreman fretting over the Confederate flag's presence in a part of the South Carolina capitol grounds that is reserved as a tribute to the state's history.

Even though the report acknowledged that the flag is padlocked into place so that it cannot be flown at half staff in times of tragedy, Foreman still worried over the fact that the flag has not been lowered after the Charleston church massacre as he began the report:

Even in the wake of overwhelming sadness, even amid charges of horrific crimes, there it is. The Confederate flag flying above the grounds of the South Carolina capitol while outrage erupts below.

After a soundbite of the NAACP's Cornell Williams, Foreman added:

The U.S. flag was ordered to half staff, but the rebel flag remained high, padlocked into place. Why? State law. In 2000, civil rights activists successfully lobbied for a larger Confederate flag to be removed from the capitol dome. But in exchange, all other tributes to the confederacy, including the flag on the capitol lawn, became untouchable without an override by two-thirds of the state legislature.

After a clip of an unidentified man defending the flag as representing Southern heritage, the CNN correspondent highlighted an incendiary tweet from actor Wendell Pierce comparing the Confederate flag to the flag of Nazi Germany. Foreman:

Opponents equate that to defending what Germany did under Hitler. Actor Wendell Pierce from The Wire tweeted, "The Nazis are responsible for the autobahn & advancing rocket science. Do we fly the Nazi flag to remember that 'heritage'?" It's an old debate.

The report ended with Foreman taking heart in the state of Texas refusing to allow the state's license plates to include the flag, but then lamented that nine other states allow the flag on some of their license plates.

Maybe times have changed. Just this week, the U.S. Supreme Court said Texas can deny a request for license plates featuring the Confederate flag. But nine other states still allow it on their plates, including South Carolina, even as opponents are pushing a symbol of their own: "#TakeItDownSC."

Below is a complete transcript of the report from the 6:00 p.m. hour of the Friday, June 19, The Situation Room on CNN:

WOLF BLITZER: The Charleston church massacre Is reigniting a serious debate over the Confederate battle flag, with some people now calling for it to be removed from a memorial on the grounds of the South Carolina state capitol. CNN's Tom Foreman has more now on the simmering controversy threatening to boil over. Tom, what is the latest?

TOM FOREMAN: Well, the simple truth is right now some black lawmakers are so upset by the most recent images of the Confederate flag, they're pledging to renew their political battle to essentially push it off the capitol grounds altogether. But that is a tall order, even under these circumstances.

Even in the wake of overwhelming sadness, even amid charges of horrific crimes, there it is. The Confederate flag flying above the grounds of the South Carolina capitol while outrage erupts below.

CORNELL WILLIAMS BROOKS, NAACP: This was a racial hate crime and must be confronted as such. That symbol has to come down.

FOREMAN: The U.S. flag was ordered to half staff, but the rebel flag remained high, padlocked into place. Why? State law. In 2000, civil rights activists successfully lobbied for a larger Confederate flag to be removed from the capitol dome. But in exchange, all other tributes to the confederacy, including the flag on the capitol lawn, became untouchable without an override by two-thirds of the state legislature. That's not likely here or in other places where some have said for years the flag is about Southern pride, heritage. In Mississippi, it's even part of the state flag.
man:

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: We're here to show our support, that, you know, we're proud of being who we are and where we're from.

FOREMAN: Opponents equate that to defending what Germany did under Hitler. Actor Wendell Pierce from The Wire tweeted, "The Nazis are responsible for the autobahn & advancing rocket science. Do we fly the Nazi flag to remember that 'heritage'?" It's an old debate. Even top politicians admit it has new resonance.

GOVERNOR NIKKI HALEY (R-SC): I think the state will start talking about that again. We'll see where it goes.

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): At the end of the day, it's time for people in South Carolina to revisit that decision, would be fine with me.

FOREMAN: Maybe times have changed. Just this week, the U.S. Supreme Court said Texas can deny a request for license plates featuring the Confederate flag. But nine other states still allow it on their plates, including South Carolina, even as opponents are pushing a symbol of their own: "#TakeItDownSC."

It is important, however, not to see this as a monolithic thing where only the black citizens of South Carolina want this changed. Indeed, the white mayor of Charleston, Joe Riley, back in 2000, was one of the organizers who led a 120-mile march to Columbia saying, "The time as passed. This flag needs to be part of the past." So there are plenty of people in that state of both races who feel that this is a relic of the past that should be put into museums as President Obama has said, if only because it makes so many citizens feel so terribly bad there, Wolf, especially at this time.

Crime Race Issues CNN The Situation Room Wolf Blitzer Tom Foreman


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