Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said it may be time to consider even more changes to Georgia’s state flag.
The ex-Georgia congressman told NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday that he joined with Democrats in 2001 calling for the Confederate battle emblem to be shrunk, and that it “may well be changed now that people are into a new cycle.” But he also questioned the decision of major retailers to ban the sales of Confederate memorabilia, saying it’s akin to erasing history.
Georgia’s flag, adopted in 2003, is modeled after the first flag of the Confederate States of America, adding the state seal in the upper-left quadrant. But it removed all remnants of the battle emblem that had been featured on the flag since the 1950s.
Gingrich is the latest prominent voice to question symbols of Georgia’s Confederate heritage in the wake of the murders of nine black worshippers at a Charleston church by a white man who told police he wanted to start a race war. Democrats are urging the state to quit celebrating Confederate Memorial Day and Confederate Heritage Month, and the state has stopped selling license plates with the battle emblem after Gov. Nathan Deal announced a “redesign” of the tags.
The New York Times has an engaging piece on the changing tides in the South, including this killer quote from Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley: “A flag is not worth a job.” It is worth your time.
Here’s the transcript :
Speaker Gingrich, you represented Georgia. You represented, you know, this divide on what the Confederacy was about. And when you hear his comments, how do you respond?
Well look, I joined Democrat Zell Miller 13 years ago in saying the Georgia flag had to be changed. I mean, it’s very clear.
[Gingrich mispoke. It was Democratic Gov. Roy Barnes who engineered that flag change. But he also supported Miller’s bid to change the flag in ’93.]
Are you comfortable with the flag the way it is now? You know, it is modeled, it is the original Confederate flag, just with the Georgia seal on it, the way it’s modeled.
I think that may well be changed now that people are into a new cycle. But let me tell you what I think is crazy. It’s crazy for Amazon to come along and say, “Here is an educational game about Gettysburg, which is used widely in schools to teach people to think.” And by the way, it has a Confederate versus an American flag, and therefore they’ve taken the game out of Amazon. Now there’s a point here however we begin to get towards Orwell’s memory hole, in which we try to hide from the past. I think it’s one thing to say you should not have a symbol which is very offensive to a large part of your population, it’s another thing to say, “Let’s erase our history and pretend it never occurred.”