June 20, 2015

If anyone wasn't already certain that Steve Kornacki has just completely destroyed what was left of Chris Hayes' weekend show on MSNBC since he took over, look no further than regular segments like this one. Following the news as reported by Chris Hayes the night before that South Carolina State Representative Norman "Doug" Brannon has decided to sponsor a bill to take down the Confederate flag flying at their state capitol, Kornacki did some follow up former Dukes of Hazzard star and Georgia Congressman Ben Jones.

I know there's no one else I'd rather hear from on this subject than "Cooter." How about you? This is the same clown that was telling Thomas Roberts earlier this year that Confederate flag license plates are part of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s vision for America. So Kornacki and his producers knew exactly what they were getting when they invited him on. Slate's Jamelle Bouie, who appeared with Jones has got the patience of a saint to have sat there and suffered through this nonsense and to have kept his responses as polite as he did here.

Kornacki started things off by asking Jones to respond to Brannon's proposal:

JONES: Not really. It's such a far more nuanced and complex than that to me Steve. I don't think... I'm glad that the representative is bringing this thing. That discussion is needed and it needs to be a sober and thoughtful and compassionate bridge building conversation, among Southerners, black and white of good hearts and caring and sensitivity to each other. And I'm glad it's coming up in December.

We shouldn't be having this fight right now. I don't think we should be making any of these hot political issued in the aftermath of this terrible, unspeakable tragedy. This was a disturbed young man who wanted to make a name for himself. I think he'd been drugging a lot. He got on line with all these white supremacists web sites and things.

Their flag is the American flag, the Klan and all those people. That's their official flag and when they use the symbol of the Confederate battle flag, they desecrate it in my opinion. I've spent my life in the South fighting for civil rights for everybody, and understanding between the races and I won't stop doing that, but there's seventy million Americans who are also descended from the Confederacy and may of us see it in a much different context. We don't like it being used in those ways.

The flag was taken down and I've seen reporting this week that says the Stars and Bars flies atop the capitol in South Carolina. It doesn't. It's not the Stars and Bars by the way, which was the first official flag of the Confederacy states, the government flag.

The battle flag is the Confederate battle flag, the St. Andrew's cross is what we're talking about and it's a symbol that means different things to different people in different context and we must be sensitive to everybody's feelings about it and understand that. […]

That will be taken up soberly and thoughtfully in December by the South Carolina legislature, but it is not the flag that caused this act. We must make that clear. And as a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, everybody in my family fought for the South.

Got that everyone? Please don't do anything to offend the poor racists' sensibilities or hurt their feelings. Now is not the time to talk about this racist symbol flying at the state capitol. And it's complicated people.

Bouie's response was perfect.

BOUIE: You know, films and books and movies can have multiple interpretations, but I think historical symbols and I think particularly, standards for armies tended, their meaning is rooted in the histories behind them. The Confederacy was founded on the basis of the preservation of the expansion of slavery. The Confederate Army fought to defend those ideals and while I have no problem and I in some ways respect people who want to honor their ancestors and their valor, we can't actually just erase history.

The history of the Confederate battle flag is part of the history of the Confederacy and the history of the Confederacy is a movement, a political movement to preserve slavery. That flag, the battle flag and the Confederate flag, the flag of the CSA itself, went into hibernation for quite a while.

The two times when they came back out of hibernation and back in the public view were during Reconstruction, when and anti-Reconstruction ex-Confederates used terrorism to disenfranchise newly enfranchised blacks, and during the Civil Rights movement when opponents of integration and supporters of Jim Crow brought the flag back out to show their opposition to civil rights.

In the flag's position in the South Carolina capitol for example, only shows up in 1962. Now, it's possible that it showed up because in 1962 a group of white South Carolinians just wanted to show their heritage, but my sense is that it's there as a symbol of defiance.

Now, on Wednesday, nine people were killed by a young man who was steeped in white supremacist imagery, who had the flags of Apartheid states on his clothing, who had a Confederate symbols on his vehicles, who expressed his desire to start a race war, who talked about black people in the same exact terms as Confederate leaders did.

Regardless of whether or not something is your heritage, you're free to honor your heritage however you like in your private space, but the South Carolina capitol is a public space and it is insulting frankly to have that flag fly when nine people were killed by a person expressing the ideals that that flag flew for a hundred and fifty years ago, a hundred years ago and fifty years ago.

Which of course was met by deflection from Jones. The American flag was the one flown by racists. Blame slavery on Wall Street and the North, not the South where they actually owned the slaves. Why the networks feel the need to keep propping up these apologists for white supremacy is beyond me, but every time there's an incident involving racial tensions, you can count on them to do just that again and again.

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