South Carolina: Nikki Haley, the former South Carolina governor, was criticized after she told a conservative radio host that the Confederate flag symbolised “service, sacrifice and heritage” for some people in her state until a white supremacist, Dylann S Roof “hijacked” it. Roof, the avowed white supremacist who killed nine black parishioners when he opened fire on a church in June 2015, posed with the flag in several photos before the long-planned attack. Haley, a Republican and former US ambassador to the UN, made her comments on the podcast The Glenn Beck Program. During the interview, she paid tribute to the victims before turning her attention to Roof.
“Here is this guy... holding the Confederate flag and had just hijacked everything that people thought of,” she said. “We don’t have hateful people in South Carolina. There’s always the small minority who are always going to be there, but people saw it as service, sacrifice and heritage. But once he did that, there was no way to overcome it.” In the aftermath of the attack, Haley called for the flag’s removal from the Statehouse. She accused the “national media” of wanting “to make this about racism. They wanted to make it about gun control.”
Her remarks touched off a debate on social media. “Really, Nikki?!” Michael Steele, the former chairman of the Republican National Committee, posted on Twitter, adding that Roof “inherited” the meaning of the Confederate flag”. Others accused Haley of political posturing.