When compared to the rest of President Donald Trump's straw men administration, Nikki Haley might seem like a standard run-of-the-mill diplomat - she wasn't really the subject of headlines (or tweets) for the better part of 2019. But in her recent book, With All Due Respect, it turns out that the former United Nations ambassador can dish out drama just as well as anyone else in Trump's cabinet.
After resigning from the Trump administration in late 2018, Haley worked hard to build a profile for herself, penning a book that aimed to convey an independent mindset. So independent, in fact, that Haley reignited a national debate that perhaps we didn't need to bring around again: the dismantling of the Confederate flag.
This week, Haley told conservative commentator Glenn Beck on his podcast that the Confederate flag symbolizes "service and sacrifice and heritage." As a result, the former South Carolina governor unleashed the ire of the internet, prompting her to pen an op-ed in the Washington Post slamming the media for perpetuating "outrage culture."
But Haley's comments were particularly critiqued by black communities, especially considering her history governing over South Carolina. The former governor held office in the wake of the tragic Charleston church shooting in 2015. Shooter Dylann Roof killed nine black parishioners at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church on June 17, 2015, and his actions were widely accepted as a racially motivated attack. Roof was labeled an avowed white supremacist after he posted a racist manifesto and several photos of himself proudly raising the Confederate flag.
In the aftermath of the shooting, as the photos of Roof spread online, pressure mounted for a confederate flag that was hanging above the South Carolina statehouse to be removed, and Haley helped lead the effort to have the flag taken down. Now, her comments completely dismantle an action that helped upheave a symbol that effectively laid historic groundwork for systemic racism.
In her most recent comments, Haley now claims that Roof's racist attack "hijacked" the meaning of the flag, and while she does admit the flag is a symbol of slavery and discrimination, she also says, "for many people in our state, the flag stands for traditions that are noble - traditions of history, of heritage and of ancestry."
One month after the Charleston church shooting, as the black community reeled from its loss, Bree Newsome had finally had enough of the confederate flag and all it symbolizes. The determined woman scaled the flagpole outside the South Carolina capitol building to remove the flag herself. "I just felt very strongly that we needed that moment. The people say enough is enough. We need to end the hate," Newsome told Good Morning America.
- Ava DuVernay (@ava) June 27, 2015
Haley's staunch support of Trump can at times seem incongruous with her racial identity, too - she says she's "the proud daughter of Indian immigrants" yet faithfully supports Trump's anti-immigration policies. She also supported legislation that limited the rights of the LGBTQ community. During her tenure as ambassador to the United Nations, Haley attempted to remove the word "gender" from human rights documents and replace it with "female." This was largely regarded as an attempt to remove legal protections for transgender people since "female" is not used as a gender, but rather an attempt to marginalize gender identity based on body parts.
But, Haley did work her way up from the South Carolina state legislature to the governorship to the ambassadorship, and on the way she's encountered her own fair share of racism and sexism. According to the new author, she says she was falsely accused multiple times by her opponents of having extra-marital affairs and saw these as pointed attacks to the very thing that she seems to spend her career fighting for.
Her tenure, for the most part, was largely controversy-free and she resigned from the post in hopes to spend more time with her family. So, why now, is she fanning the flames of confederacy?
"Really, Nikki?! The Confederate Flag represented 'service, sacrifice and heritage'? To whom? The black people who were terrorized & lynched in its name? You said it should never have been there. Roof didn't hijack the meaning of that flag, he inherited it," read a viral tweet sent by Michael Steele, the former chairman of the Republican National Committee.
Nikki Haley now blames "outrage culture" for the overwhelmingly negative response to her comment, though it's suspicious timing to be making waves in the midst of a (now) high-profile book tour. I can almost hear the mutterings of a multitude of social media users yelling in response that, "Ok, boomer."
do you ever feel proud to be from south carolina but then remember lindsey graham and nikki haley are also from south carolina and then immediately feel embarrassed
- claire thee shetland pony (@clairedaniellem) December 7, 2019
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