Columbia, SC — Nikki Haley gave two explanations of the Confederate battle flag in less than a week four years after South Carolina removed it from the Statehouse grounds.
Haley, the governor when the flag was removed from its place of honor in Columbia in 2015, told conservative radio host Glenn Beck in 2019 that the man who shot and killed eight Black churchgoers in Charleston had “hijacked” a symbol that many people took to represent “service and sacrifice and heritage.” Two days later, she wrote in the Washington Post, “Everyone knows the flag has always been a symbol of slavery, discrimination and hate for many people
The two texts show Haley's occasionally inconsistent race messaging. The South Carolina-born daughter of Indian immigrants has always denounced individual prejudice and its perpetrators. As a Republican presidential contender, Haley has avoided calling society or organizations racist.
Haley is aiming to decrease former President Donald Trump's lead in the GOP primary in South Carolina on Feb. 24. He has used racist words against opponents throughout his career to appeal to as many voters as possible without alienating conservatives who deny systematic racism in the US.
But Haley's stance has garnered bipartisan criticism, especially during a December town hall where she declined to admit slavery caused the Civil War. She then corrected herself, stating “of course the Civil War was about slavery.” On “The Breakfast Club,” a nationally syndicated hip hop morning radio show where presidential candidates and other politicians address race, Haley was pressed for further answers on her race views on Wednesday.
Haley told co-host Charlamagne tha God that the national media “came in and wanted to define” the 2015 Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church massacre and “wanted to make it about racism.” After pressure, Haley said the deaths were “motivated” by prejudice. White Dylann Roof was given the death penalty.
Haley and Trump are battling for votes throughout South Carolina's fast developing coast with its aerospace and defense businesses and in rural areas where the Civil War began more than 150 years ago. Some in South Carolina still revere the Confederate cause and downplay the fact that Southern political elites sought to separate to preserve slavery and the history of federal and state discrimination against Black people.
In her childhood in rural Bamberg, Haley, Trump's U.N. ambassador, faced racism. Haley recently told reporters, “My parents never wanted us to think we lived in a racist country.” No brown, Black, or other youngster should believe their nation is prejudiced. I want kids to realize they can be anything without interference.”
University of Southern California sociology professor Hajar Yazdiha claimed Haley was intentionally appealing to conservatives. Nikki Haley will use her identity skillfully in one time and not another. She draws out that history in one instant, Yazdiha stated. “She’s claiming her ethnicity and telling a compelling story about the American dream. On the other hand, she's downplaying it and pretending like it doesn't define her.”
STAY TURNED FOR DEVELOPMENT