After resisting calls to remove the Confederate flag from the grounds of the state Capitol following the shooting in Charleston, last week South Carolina lawmakers said the “sign of hate” should come down. Over the next few days various retailers and state governments declared that they would ban the symbol as well, Americans tried to cover up their Confederate tattoos, and activist Bree Newsome took down South Carolina’s flag herself. Then on Monday, Jeb Bush finally decided to go out on a limb and call the flag “racist.”
When asked about the flag on Monday at a campaign event in South Carolina, Bush recalled his decision to remove the flag from the Florida State Capitol grounds in 2001. He said the flag was one of “the symbols that have divided the South in many ways, the symbols that were used in most recent modern history, perhaps not at the beginning of the time, but the symbols were racist,” adding, “And if you are trying to lean forward rather than live in the past, you are trying to eliminate the barriers that create disagreements.” He also praised South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley “for doing more or less the exact same thing under a lot of pressure.”
Bush praised Haley for “doing the right thing” last week, and his vague initial comments on the issue weren’t as bad as some of the other GOP presidential contenders (mainly because he said something, rather than ignoring the issue like Rand Paul and Chris Christie). But Bush still can’t win. Now some Republicans are angry at him for unintentionally uttering MSNBC’s catch phrase.