Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said it was the forgiving reaction of the people of Emanuel AME Church that turned his opinion on the Confederate flag being flown on his home state’s capitol grounds.
“The families of the victims are the most amazing people I’ve ever met in my life. How they could confront the killer of their loved ones and say,’I love him, I’m praying for you.’ It’s just amazes me,” Graham told CNN.
“The way they conducted themselves made it impossible to keep the flag up. The killer embraced the flag in a fashion that there’s no way to explain this.”
The senator noted the flag compromise that was struck in 2000, and “if it had not been for this horrific killing, the flag would still be flying.”
“This is a circumstance of where the people led the politicians. I came to conclude after going to Charleston, that we had to act and sooner rather than later,” Graham said. “And God help South Carolina if we fail to achieve the goal of removing the flag.”
South Carolina lawmakers agreed yesterday to begin debate on moving the flag from capitol grounds.
“I’m never going to pull my state under the bus. We’ve got our share of problems. But I love my state. It’s not about me, it’s not about me running president. It’s about the people who live in my state. And we’re going to take a vote soon, I hope, to remove the flag in reaction to what happened in Charleston,” Graham continued. “And make no bones about it, no mistake. If it hadn’t been for this horrific killing, that flag would still be flying. But after this, none of us, none of us can look the people in AME church, and say, you know, ‘Let’s keep the flag up.’ At least, I can’t.”
“To anybody thinking about voting now, here’s what it means. It means that we’ll get boycotted. It means that our state will suffer economically. It means that the children — black, white, and everything in between — in South Carolina are going to be haunted by this. There is no way to explain this after nine people were murdered by racist young man, who embraced the flag. So for God’s sakes, understand this is not about your political future, my political future. This is about the future of the state.”