Saturday, February 20, 2016

South Carolina’s Legacy, Exploited by Trump

By BRENT STAPLES, NYT
FEB. 19, 2016

The massacre of nine black citizens at a church in Charleston last summer exposed decades of dissembling by South Carolina politicians who had pretended that the Confederate flag was not an emblem of hate or slavery — but a neutral symbol of “Southern pride.”

Still, the decision to banish the flag from the state Capitol grounds brought forth aging Klansmen and sparked a kind of segregationist nostalgia that echoes periods in the late 19th and early 20th centuries when South Carolinians became maniacally obsessed with segregation and racial purity.

This strain of South Carolina politics runs from the end of Reconstruction through the Dixiecrat ’40s, when Gov. Strom Thurmond ran for the presidency as a segregationist, into the civil rights era in the ’60s, when South Carolina reacted to a Supreme Court decision that struck down segregation on public transportation by embracing Jim Crow more tightly and lifting the Confederate flag to a place of pride above the state house.

This week, a survey released by Public Policy Polling suggests that South Carolina’s segregationist nostalgia has accrued to the benefit of Donald Trump, the race-baiting front-runner in Saturday’s primary. First, the poll found that 70 percent of likely Trump voters believe that the flag should still be flying over the state capitol. And a plurality of Mr. Trump’s supporters wish that the South had won the Civil War.

(More here.)

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