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Bentley Defends His Decision to Take Down Confederate Flags

 

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

The Confederate flag issue continues to resonate across Alabama like no issue has in years. Thousands of Alabamians have expressed their anger to the Governor in letters, emails, phone calls, and signing online petitions to have the flags restored to their place honoring those who served the state in the short lived Confederate States of America (C.S.A). Others however have expressed support for the Governor’s unexpected Executive Action.

Despite the growing furor, embattled Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R) told the Alabama Media Group’s veteran correspondent Chuck Dean, “I said it was the right thing to do when I did it and I believe that now even more. The flags probably should have come down long ago but they didn’t. But they are down now. Now I know that removing some flags can’t stop someone who is emotionally or mentally ill from doing sometimes terrible things. But I think it is a symbol we are moving forward as a State and trying to right some of the old hurts.”

Bentley even hinted that he may take more Confederate monuments down from State property.

State Auditor Jim Zeigler (R) has denounced Bentley’s Alabama Cultural Revolution and has reported where now the State Capitol gift shop has removed Confederate books and memorabilia from its shelves.

Auditor Zeigler said in a statement that, “Gov. Bentley’s high-level staff has contacted me denying that he was the person who directed Confederate items removed from the Goathill Museum Store in the capitol.  He and staff knew it was to be done and that the items are indeed removed.”

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Zeigler said, “This presents an unusual opportunity. I quickly sent a request to Gov. Bentley asking that he request the museum store and those with authority over them to return the Confederate items to the store. The Governor can likely get the items returned and can put himself squarely on record against the purging of our Confederate heritage.”

Auditor Zeigler wrote in a letter to the governor: “Dear Gov. Bentley, My office received information today that you had had The Goathill Museum Store in the capitol remove all Confederate items. We double checked this. My assistant has just walked down from our office to the store, and the items are indeed gone. Personnel are saying this was done on request of the governor’s office. Your office has just contacted me saying you did not actually do this. The Confederate history items are definitely missing from the museum store. I now request that you contact the Goathill Museum Store and whoever has authority over them.  Please put in a request from the governor that the Confederate items be returned to the store.”

Zeigler concluded, “Right now, everybody is trying to blame someone else and no one is taking responsibility.  You can clear this up with your request to return the Confederate history items to the museum store. Please let me know if you will take this simple step to clear this up, or else let this part of our history remain removed from the museum store.”

Zeigler wrote: “P.S.  I tried to buy some miniature diecast Confederate soldiers. They are gone.”

Governor Bentley would not commit that he would not remove the large Confederate Memorial that stands adjacent to the Capital building or the star that marks the place where Confederate President Jefferson Davis took the oath of office to lead the fledgling Confederacy. Birmingham has begun the process of researching how to remove the Confederate Memorial from Linn Park and Jasper officials have called for the removal of their Confederate memorial.

Constitutional Conservatives Coordinator Deanna Frankowski told the Alabama Political Reporter, “I am vehemently opposed to removing any monuments.”

Frankowski said that Southern heritage groups are organizing for a protest day in the park sometime around July 18. “Racism is in the heart not in the eyes. People who look at a memorial to Confederate veterans and see racism are the ones who have a problem.”

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Frankowski said that opponent to the monuments, “Are sending the message that if we don’t like your history then we will write your history out of the historical record.  Who gets to decide that?  Who is making the decisions on that?”

Zeigler said, ““The Governor is trying to revise history. He is trying to erase a part of our heritage. The governor and his advisors are purging our Confederate history.”

The Governor’s spoke woman has denied that the Governor has given any orders to remove Confederate merchandise from the store’s shelves.

To this point, the online petition at change.org asking Gov. Bentley to Reinstate all Confederate flags to the State buildings of Alabama, has 23,155 signatures.

In a recent poll, 57 percent of Americans said that the Confederate Battle Flag is a symbol of Southern heritage. Only 33 percent said that they though the flag represents racism.

 

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Written By

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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