Rep. Steve King (R-IA) isn’t just defending Rep. Joe Wilson’s (R-SC) “you lie” outburst, he’s also standing behind Wilson’s decision to vote in favor of keeping the Confederate flag waving above South Carolina’s state Capitol. In an interview yesterday morning on Fox News, King praised Wilson’s moral character and brushed off concerns about the racist connotations that many believe the Confederate flag imparts:
“He is an officer and a gentleman and everyone who knows him knows that…being a son of the South puts you in a different position when it comes to the Confederate flag. It means something entirely different to the people who have ancestors who fought in the Civil War on the south side of the Mason-Dixon line. So I think Maureen Dowd is trying to whip this up and I also know she’s trying to put race into it. I didn’t know what race she was talking about when I first read her line on that.”
It seems that King has forgotten that for many Americans, the Confederate flag represents a lot more than the “War of Northern Agression.” In fact, the decision to fly the Confederate flag over South Carolina’s Capitol was also infused with meaning. While other Southern states took down their rebel flags, an all-white South Carolina legislature fought and won to keep theirs waving above their statehouse as the Civil Rights movement picked up steam in 1962. In 2000, Wilson was one of the seven Republicans who voted to keep it there. During the 2000 fight, one of his fellow legislators — state senator Arthur Ravenel — referred to the NAACP as “the National Association of Retarded People” and later apologized to “retarded people” for associating them with the NAACP. The Confederate flag has since been moved to the Capitol lawn.
Wilson has also been a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, identified as a “source of increasingly virulent pro-Confederate, radical right propaganda.” Maureen Dowd cynically described Wilson as being part of a “loco fringe” that “clearly did not like being lectured and even rebuked by the brainy black president.”