Storm clouds gather as pro-confederate flag demonstrators gather outside the S.C. State House in Columbia, S.C. on June 27, 2015.
Photo by Jim Watson/AFP/Getty

One step forward, one step back on Confederate symbols

In South Carolina, the Republican-led state Senate easily approved a proposal yesterday to remove the Confederate battle flag from its Capitol grounds, sending the bill to the state House for a more contentious debate. Proponents of the South Carolina moving forward are, however, cautiously optimistic.
But while the nation keeps an eye on developments in Columbia, S.C., where a Confederate flag is likely to come down, a county in Florida is moving in the exact opposite direction. Several MaddowBlog readers noted this Orlando Sentinel report overnight.
The Marion County Commission voted Tuesday unanimously to again fly the Confederate flag in front of a government building, weeks after it had been taken down.
The interim county administrator had removed the flag at the McPherson Governmental Complex in Ocala, joining other communities across the South and nationwide that took down or reconsidered Confederate symbols after the June 17 killing of nine black people at a Charleston, South Carolina, church…. The Ocala Star-Banner reports that several citizens spoke in favor of restoring the flag.
For those unfamiliar with Florida geography, the state has a counter-intuitive political landscape. In most of the U.S., the further north you go, the less conservative the politics become. In the Sunshine State, it’s largely the opposite – Democrats tend to compete well in South Florida, but as you head north, the state becomes far more conservative.
Marion County is about 80 miles north of Orlando.
According to a local television report, County Commission Chairman Stan McClain said he “plans to write a letter to Marion County’s Historical Society, asking for their assistance with markers to explain” the historical significance of the flags flying outside the government building.
“It’s a passionate issue on two sides,” McClain said. “What we are trying to do is interpret the historical relevance of this display we have. It’s either take the whole thing down, or try to use it as a historical tool from a historical perspective.”
So, while officials in some states are taking steps to pull down divisive, racially charged symbols, leave it to officials in Florida to buck the trend.