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Former S.C. GOP Chair Tries To Separate States' Rights From Confederate Flag Debate

Former South Carolina Republican Chair Katlin Dawson wants us to believe we can separate the issues of the Confederate flag and the racism it symbolizes from the people continually calling for "states' rights" in the South.
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Former South Carolina Republican Chair Katlin Dawson wants us to believe we can separate the issues of the Confederate flag and the racism it symbolizes from the people continually calling for "states' rights" in the South.

While discussing the protesters who showed up in Columbia, South Carolina this weekend at a pro-Confederate flag rally, here's now Dawson responded when MSNBC's Melissa Harris-Perry asked him to respond to the comments made by those protesters:

HARRIS-PERRY: So I want to ask you about the language that we heard from one person there which is about our sovereignty. I have long made the claim as a Southerner that the issue here is not about race, as important and painful as race is, but the issue is about the Civil War, in which the Confederacy was defeated and that we simply do not fly the flag of traitors over tax payers' government ground.

And so I'm concerned in part that the sovereignty, the states' rights thing will never get challenged if it becomes only about a question of kind of open acts of race... Katon?

DAWSON: Melissa, I think that it was easy to take a picture of those people, a handful of folks out there in front of the monument. I don't think that's reflective of the movement or reflective of the hearts and minds of people in South Carolina.

HARRIS-PERRY: You don't think states' rights is reflective of the people of South Carolina, that the belief that the state is sovereign over and above the federal government, or at least next to it, is not a fundamental question generating conflict in our country? And I'm not talking about the race piece per se, or separate and apart, but the sense that states can make their own decisions, that nullification language? Because that feels to me like what we've been talking about for six years.

DAWSON: Well, I think if you want to, you know, lets separate the two issues, and maybe that's hard for people to do, but certainly, South Carolina's never been affectionate to the federal government in any way that I ever remember. I mean, I think you'll agree with North Carolina, Louisiana, come on down the pipe, but not affectionate with the federal government telling us to do anything. So then you involve states' rights into it and the whole dichotomy of what comes from that... again, I'm still trying to focus on that flag coming down and then there's other work to do.


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States' rights is an issue and maybe you can fold that into this, but I have it separate in my mind, today focused on this one issue of removing that flag, the pain that it caused and remembering the senator and the eight other families that will be impacted forever from this event.

HARRIS-PERRY: Katon Dawson, I always appreciate when you join us. You know you and I have long term respectful disagreements and on this one I've gotta' say, I want to see it come down too, but I want to see it come down with a recognition that the South lost the Civil War, that they are in fact not sovereign and that federal government is in fact, that was established as what the United States of America is back in the 1860's, because I worry if we don't manage that, that some of what Beth talked about here in terms of federal voting rights and other things doesn't get addressed around that shiny object.

That might be easier to do if we quit letting the likes of Dawson and his ilk dictate the terms of the discussion, or to do their best to try to gloss over the racist history of his state as he did here.

Harris-Perry did a good job of shooting down Dawson's talking points this time around, but that's not always the case when he's brought on as a guest on her show. I'd prefer they retire him from the guest list, but we all know that won't happen any time soon. Liberals aren't allowed in the air without some GOP liars on there to counter them for "balance."

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