Screenshot via Blaze TV
- In an interview with Blaze TV's Glenn Beck, former US Ambassador to the UN and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said white supremacist gunman Dylann Roof "hijacked" the meaning of the Confederate flag.
- On June 17, 2015 Roof opened fire in a Wednesday night Bible study at the Emanuel African Methodist Church in Charleston, South Carolina, killing nine people and injuring three others.
- Haley said that Roof, who published a racist manifesto invoking the Confederate flag, "hijacked everything that people thought of" about the flag's meaning, saying, "people saw it as service, and sacrifice, and heritage."
- Since the 19th century, the confederate flag has represented the confederacy's fight in the United States' Civil War to preserve the institution of slavery of African-Americans.
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In an interview with Blaze TV's Glenn Beck, former US Ambassador to the UN and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said white supremacist gunman Dylann Roof "hijacked" the meaning of the Confederate flag and made it about hate rather than heritage and sacrifice.
On June 17, 2015 Roof opened fire during a Wednesday night Bible study at the Emanuel African Methodist Church in Charleston, South Carolina, killing nine people and injuring three others. Authorities found that Roof also wrote a white supremacist manifesto heavily invoking the Confederate flag and other Confederate symbols.
Roof was convicted and sentenced to death over the shooting, which was prosecuted as a hate crime, in January of 2017.
In the days after the shooting, Haley was applauded across the country and around the world for her decision to lead a push to officially remove the Confederate flag from the grounds of South Carolina's state capitol.
But in the interview, a clip of which was first posted to Twitter by Media Matters for America's Jason Campbell, Haley offered a different interpretation of how she believes South Carolinians perceived the confederate flag before the shooting.
—Jason Campbell (@JasonSCampbell) December 6, 2019
"South Carolina fell her to her knees when this happened, this is one of the oldest African-American churches. And these twelve people were amazing people, they loved their church, loved their families, loved their communities," Haley said of the victims and survivors of the shooting.
"And here is this guy who comes out with his manifesto and his confederate flag who had just hijacked everything that people thought of," Haley added. "And we don't have hateful people in South Carolina. There's a small minority that's going to be there, but people saw it as service, and sacrifice, and heritage. But once he did that there was no way to overcome it."
While Haley seemed to be characterizing what she saw as the views of South Carolinians and not necessarily her own personal beliefs, her description of what the flag stood in the eyes of her constituents for sparked anger and disbelief across the Internet. The notion that the Confederate flag represents "service" and "sacrifice" stands starkly at odds with what the Confederate Army fought for in the first place, which was the ability for Southern states to continue owning African-Americans as slaves.
Some reporters also expressed confusion over Haley's comments. CNN Correspondent Abby Phillip tweeted, "When I talked to Haley in 2015, she was fully aware that many people in SC associated the flag with hate long before Dylann Roof. She even told me that her son had raised the issue to her before. So I don't understand why she wouldn't even bother to mention that in this interview."
In the interview, Haley also chastised the media for wanting to, in her words, make the shooting "about racism."
"The national media came in droves, they wanted to define what happened, they wanted to make it about racism, they wanted to make it about gun control, they wanted to make it about the death penalty, and I pushed off the national media and and said, there will be a time in place to talk about this but it is not now," she said.
Soon after the clip of Haley's remarks began circulating around Twitter on Friday afternoon, Haley took to the site to defend her comments, retweeting other accounts who defended her and said her remarks were taken out of context.
—Nikki Haley (@NikkiHaley) December 6, 2019
Haley, who served as US Ambassador to the United Nations until last fall, is currently promoting her recently-published memoir detailing her time in the Trump administration.
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