Tension runs high in South Carolina as local residents and state officials engage in fiery debate about the confederate flag that currently sits atop the Statehouse. But no statements enraged the public like Sen. Arthur Ravenel’s (R) inflammatory comment at a pro-flag rally; Ravenel argued that lawmakers should not bow to the “National Association for Retarded People” (his name for the NAACP) by removing the flag from the Statehouse’s dome. His comment follows the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s (NAACP) recent imposition of a tourism boycott on South Carolina, in answer to the state’s celebration of the Confederate symbol. When confronted about his comment, Ravenel promptly “apologized to the retarded folks of the world for equating them with the NAACP,” but offered no other apology.
Sen. Darrell Jackson (D) recently promoted ads featuring the Statehouse and its flag juxtaposed with the image of a hooded Ku Klux Klan member. 57% of South Carolinians support Jackson’s and the NAACP’s opposition to the flag’s prominent placement, a weekend poll suggests. However, Southern heritage groups still argue that “men died for the banner,” and believe that merits its position at the Statehouse.