Originally created 05/15/00

Flag backers plan campaign



AIKEN - The League of the South and other groups that wanted South Carolina to keep a Confederate flag on its Statehouse dome are expected to campaign "tooth and nail" against lawmakers who voted to take it down this session.

The League had urged legislators not to buckle under pressure from an NAACP boycott of South Carolina as long as the flag was flying. Now it is pledging there will be "no compromise, no surrender and no votes for turncoats" in June primaries and November elections.

Its leaders will meet this week with representatives of other pro-flag organizations to identify which politicians to target, said Jay Mowery of Aiken, state chairman of the League, which advocates a free Southern nation and equates assaults on the Confederate flag and other Southern symbols as a plot to eradicate the South's culture.

The campaign against key political targets, if successful, could return Democrats to power in the House of Representatives, where Republicans led the floor fight to take the flag off the Capitol dome and out of both legislative chambers, Mr. Mowery said.

Although the House and Senate still have to reconcile differences between their bills on the issue, both have enacted a plan that would put an authentic battle flag on Statehouse grounds near a monument to Confederate soldiers.

"The flag that is coming down in Columbia is more than a mere piece of cloth," Mr. Mowery said in a League of the South statement. "Not only does it represent the blood sacrifice of our Christian Confederate ancestors but our future as well. Wherever that flag waves, there exists a commitment to the principle of states' rights and local self-government."

He urged South Carolinians to make the flag "more visible than ever" and fly it "as a reminder to our turncoat politicians that there will be a price to be paid in the next election. We intend to show that the ouster of former Gov. David Beasley was no fluke."

Mr. Beasley, a Republican who lost to Democrat Jim Hodges two years ago , has credited his call to take down the Confederate flag with a major role in that loss. Now pro-flag forces say they will target Mr. Hodges for defeat in 2002.

The Southern Legal Resource Center also lambasted Thursday's House vote, as did the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, which has said moving the flag won't end its boycott.

Chief trial counsel Kirk Lyons said, "The NAACP is showing itself to be the pack of liars and hypocrites that we have known them to be. They said they opposed the flag on the dome because it was wrong to fly it in a `position of sovereignty.' Now they say they oppose the flag at the monument because it will be `too prominent.'ƒ"

But, he said, "As long as that flag flew, it signaled the government of South Carolina supported freedom of expression and resistance to tyranny."

Reach Margaret O'Shea at (706) 823-3340 or newsroom@augustachronicle.com.