GOP 2016er Jeb Bush defended his decision as Florida governor to take down the Confederate battle flag from the state capitol by arguing the controversy around Confederate monuments “isn’t the 19th century issue, it’s the 20th century issue.”
“The problem with the Confederate flag isn’t the Confederacy, the problem with the Confederate flag is what it began to represent later,” Bush said while on a campaign stop. “And that’s what we have to avoid to heal those wounds.”
Bush was asked by an event attendee whether “anybody killing any other entity because of one basis or not” requires the removal of Confederate symbols.
Bush called such a move a “a state-by-state decision,” but explained his 2001 order, which received renewed attention after the mass shooting at an African American church in Charleston this year, allegedly by a white supremacist, prompted a national debate over Confederate symbols.
“I moved all of the flags off the state premises, into the Florida museum, where they would be honored, because it was part of our heritage, but it would not be a visible sign of what Florida is about,” he said, adding that he avoided a big “political fight” because he did so “unilaterally.”
“There’s a way to find the right balance, as you’re bringing up, because, look, the Confederacy is a part of our heritage, and it should be respected like other parts,” he said. “It doesn’t have to define who we are either. Because that symbol — the problem with the Confederate flag isn’t the Confederacy, the problem with the Confederate flag is what it began to represent later. And that’s what we have to avoid to heal those wounds.”
According to the Huffington Post, the flag at the Florida capitol was erected in 1978.
The attendee followed up by saying he didn’t see any signs of racism in the flag, to which, Bush responded:
“I’m not sure if you were a civil rights worker in the 1960s trying to fight for equal rights for African Americans that they would necessary agree with you and that’s the point. It isn’t the 19th century issue, it’s the 20th century issue.”