INSIDE THE DEBATE OVER THE CONFEDERATE FLAG, PART I
(Editor’s Note: This is the first in a three-part series).
|| By MICHAEL A. PITTS || In recent weeks I have been portrayed by the national media – and many of our state’s printed press and television stations – as the face of opposition for removing the Confederate battle flag. This despite the fact that not once during the debate did I advocate for leaving the flag on the State House Complex.
Rather, I recognized the fact that it brought pain to the heart of my good friend and decorated veteran, S.C. Rep. Lonnie Hosey. I clearly stated on that point that if the flag brought pain to my friend, it was time to lower it. I did, however, ask for a flag that had not been abducted by murderers and miscast as a symbol of racism to replace the one being lowered.
I had several goals in advancing various amendments for debate – all of which were clearly stated. First, I wanted to show that the issue was not really the flag but a much larger agenda – an attempted scrubbing of history and removal of all Southern heritage. My final amendment proved that point when a majority voted to not replace the flag with our own state flag.
Secondly, I wished to gain reciprocity between South Carolinians serving in the Union army in comparison to those serving in the Confederate army. This could have been done with the fourth amendment I presented – which would have place a bronze and granite memorial on the State House Grounds depicting the first South Carolina volunteers of the Confederacy. It would have been done in the same manner depicted on the African American History Monument that shows the first South Carolina Union volunteers.
Thirdly, I hoped to show by individual amendments the many monuments and memorials left open to the same sensitivity as the Confederate battle flag, potentially leaving them vulnerable to attack from our society driven by political correctness. This debate became a mad dash to the finish line driven by political agenda and personal motivations, ignoring process, thereby circumventing the public voice from being heard on both sides of this issue. It also placed debate on the floor of the legislature that normally would have occurred throughout the legislative process at the subcommittee and full committee level.
My first amendment recognized Chief Stand Watie, leader of the Cherokee Nation, and his absolute disdain for the Federal Government. His disdain came as a result of the Cherokee people being repaid for their support of President Andrew Jackson with the Trail of Tears.
My point in this is that the same level of disdain for the “cancer” called Washington D.C. – which is sucking the life blood from individual liberty and state sovereignty, the same over bearing Federal Government that forced secession movements by Northern states during decades prior to the Civil War – is still prevalent and deadly today. At one point I stated during debate that I felt like General Lee at Appomattox. A colleague suggested to me that I more likely felt like General Stonewall Jackson, who was accidentally shot by his own troops that wept when they realized what they had done.
Mine came in the back – and with intent.
I have been labeled an obstructionist by the national media. I have been called a bigot, a racist, a Nazi, a coward and a traitor by people ignorant to who I am. Other than the misleading information put out by the printed press and television news, my debate repeatedly called for unity and resolution, no matter the outcome. I believe our state was a shining star throughout this tragedy. My desire was to make my points clearly, concisely, with dignity and honor and without offense.
To that end, I did my best.
Michael A. Pitts is a retired law enforcement officer who represents the voters of District 14 in the S.C. House of Representatives.