Mitt Romney’s tweet was unequivocal: “Take down the #ConfederateFlag at the SC Capitol. To many, it is a symbol of racial hatred. Remove it now to honor #Charleston victims.” Meanwhile, over the state capitol the American and South Carolina flags were at half-staff, while the Confederate battle flag flew nearby fully raised, forbidden by state law to be lowered for any reason. Romney isn't running for president, and most of those who are took a spineless pass, insisting that this was an issue for South Carolina to decide. “I’m not a South Carolinian,” said Rick Santorum. We don’t need “people from outside of the state coming in and dictating how they should resolve it,” said Ted Cruz.
Of course. It’s a states rights issue – that same hypocritical lament used to defend the “peculiar institution” of human bondage, to launch the deadliest war in American history, to justify 100 years of brutal apartheid – Ted Cruz eerily echoing Bull Connor.
And the flag, of course, is the symbol that honors those who fought and died defending states rights. So argued the defendants in Walker vs. Sons of Confederate Veterans. But the Supreme Court disagreed last week, upholding the Texas decision to ban the flag from its license plates, with Clarence Thomas abandoning both his customary allies and traditional principles to cast the deciding vote. Thomas hasn’t said why, but perhaps it's because the flag is not for him, as it is for Lindsey Graham, “part of who we are.”