A little over a week ago, University of South Carolina football coach Steve Spurrier said he believed the Palmetto State would be a better place to live if the Confederate battle flag were removed from the S.C. Statehouse grounds.
Spurrier had initially brought up the flag after receiving an award from City Year at the Ripples of Hope banquet in Columbia on April 13.
He expanded on his initial remarks in an interview with The State, saying, "It would make us a more progressive, better state, I think, if the flag was removed. But I'm not going to go on any big campaign to have it removed. That's not my position ... But if anyone were to ask me, that would certainly be my position."
Spurrier said it was "embarrassing" that a USC supporter waved a "Stars and Bars" behind the hosts of ESPN's College Game Day during the live broadcast prior to the Gamecocks home game against the University of Tennessee last fall. "Some clown or some dude was waving that big ol' Confederate flag right behind them the whole time they were on."
I watched said telecast myself and was also struck by the inane behavior of the standard-bearer because it just seems that every time South Carolina is in the national spotlight, some nitwit is doing something stupid.
Spurrier continued, "I'm not trying to be a politician. I just gave my opinion. I did mention that if our team wins the conference championship, then I'll have an even bigger voice. That's just the way life is. If we stumble-bumble around, no one gives a dang what I say."
He's most definitely correct on a number of fronts.
A legislative compromise in 2000 removed the Confederate battle flag from atop the Statehouse dome, where it had flown since 1962, partly as a centennial anniversary commemoration of the War Between the States and partly as a "screw you" to the feds in response to desegregation.
Since then, there hasn't been much talk about the matter, except by folks noting the banner is more visible in its new location at the Confederate soldiers monument and that S.C. Sen. Glenn McConnell (R-Chas) had the fabric of the flag changed from the original wool so it would fly more noticeably.
So much for heritage...
A year after the flag's repositioning, the NCAA banned South Carolina colleges and universities from hosting regional championships or bowl games. Currently, an NCAA committee is considering extending the ban to championship events achieved on merit rather than maintaining the existing disciplinary action. Ouch!
Although a bill (H. 3588) that would take the flag off the Statehouse grounds has been filed, the chairs of both the S.C. House and Senate Judiciary Committees consider the matter settled and won't bring the bill up for consideration.
It's funny how some issues such as the Confederate flag can be considered "settled" and others, like, say, school vouchers, keep coming back like a bad case of athlete's foot.
What I did find disturbing was how some lawmakers simply dismissed Spurrier's comments out of hand, intimating that the coach should perhaps worry more about winning a champeeeeeenship than having an opinion about anything, let alone the Confederate flag.
The powers that be in this state have long been propelled by self-interest. Unfortunately, not enough South Carolinians have figured out that it's in their interest to put the flag in a museum as a testament to heritage, history, or whatever reason helps one sleep at night.
The question I ask is, why do we put up with it otherwise?