Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate admits burning state flag during demonstration
Georgia Democratic candidate for governor Stacey Abrams admitted that while she was a college student in 1992, she took part in a protest where the state flag of Georgia at the time was burned.
That flag featured the stars and bars of the Confederate battle flag, which was removed the next year by the last Democratic governor in the state, Roy Barnes.
The Abrams campaign defended the candidate's actions in a Monday statement, quoted by the New York Times, that said she had engaged in a "permitted, peaceful protest against the Confederate emblem in the flag." ...
The statement also said Ms. Abrams was on the right side of history.
"During Stacey Abrams' college years, Georgia was at a crossroads, struggling with how to overcome racially divisive issues, including symbols of the Confederacy, the sharpest of which was the inclusion of the Confederate emblem in the Georgia state flag," the statement said. "This conversation was sweeping across Georgia as numerous organizations, prominent leaders, and students engaged in the ultimately successful effort to change the flag."
Ms. Abrams has called for removing a giant monument on Stone Mountain featuring granite carvings of Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson and Jefferson Davis, citing its ties to the 1910s revival of the Ku Klux Klan.
She has accordingly been criticized by Secretary of State Brian Kemp, her Republican rival for the governorship. Mr. Kemp has said the state cannot "attempt to rewrite" the past, and would protect Stone Mountain from "the radical left."
Ms. Abrams and Mr. Kemp will face off in a debate Tuesday.
Burning any flag for any reason is not conducive to dialogue. It is a radical act and while many, like Abrams, believed that the stars and bars are a symbol of racism, it is also, for millions of Americans, a symbol of heritage.
There is nothing wrong with believing that the Confederate battle flag is a symbol of racism. But symbols are often interpreted differently, depending on the eye of the beholder. I personally find that battle flag a hurtful symbol that needs to be retired. But I know that many disagree, and I freely acknowledge that disagreement and respect their beliefs.
By burning the flag, Abrams did not grant those who disagree with her any respect at all. I think all Georgians, white and black, should take that into consideration when casting their vote for governor.