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Lazenby: On Statesmanship

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|| By AMY LAZENBY || During the South Carolina House’s marathon debate over removing the Confederate battle flag from the State House grounds this week, there was little statesmanship and much pettiness. But there were a few shining moments that residents of the Palmetto State can be proud of – and one in particular.

Much attention has been given to the speech made by Rep. Jenny Horne (R-Dorchester). Horne’s remarks were emotionally powerful as the Republican representative shouted through tears, “I cannot believe that we do not have the heart in this body to do something meaningful, such as take a symbol of hate off these grounds on Friday!” In the end, that body did have the will, as did the SC Senate the previous week, and the flag came down. Many in the national media have credited Horne’s remarks with being the turning point of the contentious debate, when momentum swung back in favor of passing a clean “take it down” bill to match the Senate’s so the flag could be removed without further delay.

But that performance, for all its raw emotion, wasn’t the real highlight of the debate. That honor should go to another speech, one that was absent the tears and the shouting, but no less powerful – perhaps even more powerful because of its understated tone. No histrionics – just an accurate telling of history – and a call for grace, mutually and freely given. I’d like you to watch the remarks given by Rep. Joe Neal (D-Richland), as he calmly, rationally, and effectively disputes the arguments of those on the other side of the debate. I won’t pull out any of his memorable quotes here, because I’d like you to listen to them in the context within which they were so artfully woven by Rep. Neal.

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And that, folks, is what true statesmanship looks and sounds like.

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Amy Lazenby is a writer, editor, and PR gal. She’s a “native” South Carolinian who’s currently splitting her time between Spartanburg, SC and Washington, DC – hoping to get back to the Palmetto State for good. Follow her on Twitter at @amylazscdc.

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