- The Washington Times - Friday, June 19, 2015

Republican presidential candidate and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham on Friday defended the Confederate flag that’s still flying high outside of the State Capitol, despite arguments that the flag is stoking racial hatred in the community rocked by the killing of nine people by a white man at a black Charleston church.

Mr. Graham said “it would be fine” if the people of South Carolina chose to revisit the Confederate flag, but argued that the symbol represents a “part of who we are.”

“The flag represents to some people, a Civil War, and that was the symbol of one side. To others it is a racist symbol, and it has been used in a racist way. But the problems we have today in South Carolina and across the world are not because of a movie or because of symbols, it is because of what is in peoples’ hearts,” he told CNN reporter Alisyn Camerota.

“We’re not going to give this a guy an excuse about a book he might have read or a movie he watched or a song he listened to or a symbol out anywhere. It’s him … not the flag,” Mr. Graham said of 21-year-old Dylann Roof, a white South Carolina man who admitted to police that he killed nine black people Wednesday at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in an effort to start a race war.

One of the common photos of Mr. Roof circulating in the media shows him posing by a car that has plates featuring the Confederate flag.

Two flags atop the statehouse in Columbia were lowered to half-staff on Thursday and will remain that way for nine days — one day for each victim. The Confederate flag, however, was still flying high on Friday. While Gov. Nikki Haley has jurisdiction over how and when state flags fly, the Confederate flag is under the authority of the state’s General Assembly NBC News reported.

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