Congressman: Those Using Tragedy to Take Down Confederate Flag Are ‘Beyond Contempt’

Rep. Gary Palmer (R-Ala.)
Rep. Gary Palmer (R-Ala.)

On a day when many Republicans and Democrats in South Carolina found common ground in agreeing that the Confederate flag adjacent to the Statehouse should be removed from its perch and placed in a museum, a congressman from Alabama had a different view. 

Speaking to radio host Matt Murphy on Monday, Rep. Gary Palmer (R-Ala.) said that those calling for the Confederate flag's relocation were using the tragic murder of nine people at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church for political reasons. 

"It's people that have an agenda seeking to exploit a tragedy," Palmer said. "That to me, that’s beyond contempt.”   


In 1962, South Carolina raised the Confederate flag near its Statehouse during a period known as massive resistance, when some politicians chose to defy the civil rights movement and the Supreme Court's 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision ruling that "separate was not equal" in the schools.

Palmer's interview with Murphy was first reported in The Intercept.

In Montgomery, Ala., a Confederate flag flies near a Confederate memorial, not the state Capitol. 

Palmer also seemed to say that the accused killer, Dylann Roof, might be mentally ill.

"Here you have this church that's suffered an unspeakable tragedy by a person that has hate to a degree that he's insane, and then they try to exploit this tragedy for their own agendas," Palmer added.  


Palmer did not refer to the images of Roof posing with guns and Confederate flags or a 2,000-word manifesto (discovered online last weekend) in which he outlined his racist and anti-Semitic views.  

On Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) added his name to the list of Republicans calling for the Confederate flag to be taken from South Carolina's Statehouse grounds. 


"The fact that it continues to be a painful reminder of racial oppression to many suggests to me at least that it's time to move beyond it, and that the time for a state to fly it has long since passed," McConnell said in a statement.  

Lauren Victoria Burke is a Washington, D.C.-based political reporter who writes the Crew of 42 blog. She appears regularly on NewsOne Now with Roland Martin on TV One. Follow her on Twitter

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