(I’m hijacking my law blog today to publish this letter I’m sending to Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina, and others as listed below.)
Dear Governor Haley:
I’ve come down to South Carolina the past 13 years with a group of old college friends for vacation. Hilton Head is nice.
But so long and farewell. We are taking our vacation dollars elsewhere.
The sight of the Confederate battle flag flying full staff at your State House in the wake of a racially based church massacre is just too much. That a symbol of slavery should still be flying at a state capitol, 150 years after the Civil War ended, is not just bizarre, but contemptible and vile.
I know that there are some who try to rationalize the use of the flag as some type of cultural antebellum throw-back to a simpler time. But that simpler time was abhorrent for those enslaved.
The empty rhetoric of cultural symbolism from flag supporters is highlighted by the fact that South Carolina had the highest percentage of it’s population in slavery, at a stunning 57%. I would think you might actually care about what their descendants see their government glorifying. There is no justification for waving the flag of slavery in their faces.
Your state will get our money no longer. There are plenty of other nice places we can go to the beach and play a little golf. We need not do it under the fluttering colors of racism.
I know that you think it’s perfectly OK to keep that flag flying, as long as CEOs don’t complain. I know this because you said so in a debate last year:
“What I can tell you is over the last three and a half years, I spent a lot of my days on the phones with CEOs and recruiting jobs to this state,” Haley said. “I can honestly say I have not had one conversation with a single CEO about the Confederate flag.”
So it isn’t about principle for you, it’s about money.
I saw that the victims’ families made a number of very forgiving comments about the killer:
“You took something very precious away from me,” a family representative for Ethel Lance, the 70-year-old grandmother who died in Wednesday’s massacre, told Roof on behalf of Lance’s loved ones. “I will never talk to her ever again. I will never be able to hold her again. But I forgive you and have mercy on your soul. You hurt me. You hurt a lot of people, but I forgive you.”
I can not even imagine that I would be so charitable. You are very lucky to have such people in your state. It’s a shame you don’t appreciate them.
Since it’s about money for you and not principle, I will send a copy of this letter to the Marriott, where we stay. I want them to know that they have lost our business because of you.
I will likewise send copies to the owners of many of the restaurants that we have enjoyed over our 13 years, letting them know why we will not return. And I will make it available on the web, for the few people that might find it on my blog.
All is not lost for you, of course, as there are likely a number of skinhead, neo-Nazi and white power hate groups that revel in what you are doing. Perhaps they will bring their business to Hilton Head instead, and stay in your fine hotels, eat in your nice restaurants and tee off on your many golf courses. I’m sure the owners will welcome them with open arms.
–Eric Turkewitz and friends
Update, 6/23/15 — My post went up around 7 am, and at 4 pm Gov. Haley asked the Legislature to take down the flag. But it still flies, as ⅔ of each legislative house must approve its removal.
So the burden is clearly now at the feet of South Carolina’s legislative branch. Will the state continue to fly the flag of slavery, segregation and subjugation or not?
I have no intention of bringing my tourist dollars back to South Carolina while it flies.