The largest newspaper in South Carolina's capital city pointed out this week the "chilling" similarities between lawmakers who defended the Confederate flag and members of the Ku Klux Klan.
An editorial published in Wednesday's edition of Columbia's The State newspaper noted that a North Carolina Ku Klux Klan group was planning to rally at the South Carolina statehouse on Saturday in support of the Confederate flag, but many lawmakers in the state had already been using rhetoric that was disturbingly similar.
"Saturday, of course, is the day that the cowards who like to dress up in white sheets and pointy hats will rally at our State House, to protest our decision to remove the Confederate flag from the grounds," the paper's editorial staff wrote.
"As The State’s Andrew Shain reported, members of a North Carolina Ku Klux Klan group say they are 'standing up for our Confederate history and all the Southerners who fought and died against federal tyranny,'" the editorial continued. "A recording on the group’s phone line proclaims that 'Our government is trying to erase white culture and our heritage right out to the pages of the history books.'"
The paper added: "It’s chilling, isn’t it, to note how much that rhetoric resembles the arguments made by a few members of our Legislature during last week’s flag debate."
Republican state Rep. J. Gary Simrill had had warned during the debate over the flag that activists were seeking to “remove vestiges of what the South was, to remove history, almost a cultural genocide.”
And state Rep. Michael Pitts (R) also accused opponents of the flag of “scrubbing history.”
In fact, the idea that "history" was being purged was a theme that was repeated by both lawmakers and Klan members alike.
“To remove the flag… and thinking it would change history would be like removing a tattoo from the corpse of a loved one and thinking it would change a loved one’s obituary," Senate Majority Leader Harvey Peeler (R) lamented during the debate.
Writing for Salon, former White House counselor Bill Curry argued that "the right has waged a war on history every bit as relentless as and even more effective than its war on science."
"As evidenced by Dylann Roof and millions who share his views if not his soul sickness, the right has been most effective and destructive in reweaving the history of the Confederacy," Curry wrote, noting that so-called Southern "historians" had turned the "Civil War from an insurrection mounted to defend human slavery into a ‘war between the states’ sparked in large part by an imperious federal government bent on robbing the South of its liberty."