Former South Carolina Governor and Trump United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley on Friday stirred controversy when she claimed that the Confederate flag was once a noble symbol that only lost legitimacy once it was "hijacked" by a mass murderer.
During an interview with talk show host Glenn Beck, Haley described how she reacted after white supremacist Dylann Roof murdered nine people at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.
"Here is this guy who comes out with this manifesto, holding the Confederate flag," she said, referring to Roof. "And [he] had just hijacked everything that people thought of. We don't have hateful people in South Carolina -- there's always the small minority, that's always 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."
Civil War historian Kevin Levin, however, called Haley's claim about the flag "nonsense" and pointed out that it has always been used by racists to intimidate black Americans.
"Tell that to the white men who in 1920 forced a young African American man to kiss a Confederate flag before they lynched him," Levin said.
He then posted photos of demonstrators waving the American flag during a protest aimed at maintaining school segregation, as well as white people taunting civil rights marchers by similarly brandishing the flag.
"Is Nikki Haley really prepared to suggest that all of these sightings have nothing to do with white supremacy?" he asked. "There is a reason why Dylann Roof embraced the flag. He understood its history."
Levin then begged Haley to not buy into this revisionist history, while reminding her that she did the right thing by ordering the removal of the Confederate flag from the South Carolina capitol in 2015.
The Confederate flag at Ole Miss as part of the protests to keep the school white. https://t.co/skwnwpCoPg— Kevin M. Levin (@Kevin M. Levin) 1575654921.0
@NikkiHaley @NikkiHaley don't do this. Don't push this painful history under the rug for political purposes. In the… https://t.co/nvQgagPbq7— Kevin M. Levin (@Kevin M. Levin) 1575655343.0