Here we go again…the Democrats are trying to erase history at the Citadel. Jim Clyburn is determined to take this fight all the way so the flag will be removed. Don’t we have much bigger fish to fry? I would think so…
In the early hours of Thursday morning, the U.S. House Armed Services Committee voted to keep the Confederate flag flying at The Citadel.
The rejection of a Democratic effort to force the military institution to take down the banner atop Summerall Chapel potentially paves the way for a bitter, extended fight on the issue, which is being championed by U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C.
U.S. Rep. Adam Smith, a Washington State Democrat and ranking member of the committee, offered an amendment to the fiscal 2017 National Defense Authorization Act to bar Reserve Officers’ Training Corps funds to any military university that displays the Confederate flag.
The only university that falls into that category is The Citadel. The Board of Visitors voted to remove the flag last summer, after revelations that the deadly shooting of nine black parishioners at Mother Emanuel AME Church was motivated by race — an incident which, in turn, prompted the removal of the Confederate flag from the Statehouse grounds.
But the Board of Visitors says it can’t actually take the Citadel’s Confederate flag down unless the S.C. state legislature makes changes to the so-called “Heritage Act” that currently stands in the way. Smith acknowledged that his amendment was designed to force state lawmakers to act.
“The flag still flies, South Carolina has no pressure to change it whatsoever and probably won’t,” said Smith, “and that embarrassment continues to fly over The Citadel, where there are presumably African American people at attending, and I think we need something to force South Carolina to do the right thing.”
The Armed Services Committee chairman, U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, registered his opposition to Smith’s amendment by essentially moving to amend the amendment. He opted for adding language to Smith’s original provision to exempt any university which has already voted to take down the flag from having ROTC funds withheld, thereby nullifying the amendment’s entire purpose.
“Bottom line is, I don’t think it’s fair to punish those folks who are trying to do the right thing, but the folks in the state legislature that is preventing them from doing that now,” Thornberry said.
U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson, the only South Carolinian serving on the Armed Services Committee, proceeded to read a letter he had received earlier that day from The Citadel’s president, Lt. Gen. John Rosa, in opposition to Smith’s amendment.
“The Citadel provides itself on the core values of duty, honor and respect, and moving the (flag) to another location is consistent with those values,” Rosa wrote in his letter to Wilson, a Republican. “But the values also require the college to follow the law.”
The committee members ultimately voted on Thornberry’s alternative language cancelling out Smith’s original intent, with all Democrats opposed and all Republican in favor — except for one outlier, U.S. Rep. Martha McSally of Arizona, who sided with the minority party.
This conversation will likely continue once the NDAA bill comes before the full House.
Read more: Post and Courier