After the Confederate flag was seen being held by Dylann Roof, the suspect in a shooting massacre in Charleston, South Carolina, in pictures that surfaced on the Internet accompanied with a “racist manifesto,” the debate began over what the flag actually represented.
While Several major retailers responded by pulling all Confederate flag merchandise from their shelves, deeming it “offensive” and a “symbol of racism and slavery” and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley called for the flag to be removed from the state’s capitol grounds, a recent survey claims that the majority of Americans don’t see the flag as a racist symbol.
According to a CNN/ORC Poll, 57 percent of Americans see the Confederate flag as more of a symbol of Southern pride and heritage than as a symbol of racism. 33 percent see it as a symbol of racism, and five percent say it is “both equally” while five percent say it is “neither.”
There was a notable divide between races, with only 17 percent of blacks and 66 percent of whites viewing the flag as a symbol of Southern pride, while 72 percent of blacks and 25 percent of whites view it was a symbol of racism.
While 87 percent of the individuals polled said that the Charleston shooting should be considered a hate crime, only 41 percent said it should be considered an act of terrorism.
The poll also found that there was a divide based on education, and that among the whites polled who said they had a college degree, 51 percent said the Confederate flag was a symbol of Southern pride and 41 percent said it was a symbol of racism, while among whites who said they did not have a college degree, 73 percent said the flag was a symbol of pride and 18 percent said it was a symbol of racism.
Although 57 percent of the Americans polled opposed redesigning the Confederate flag, 71 percent opposed removing tributes to those who fought in the Confederacy and 68 percent opposed renaming the streets and highways that are named after Confederate leaders, 55 percent supported removing Confederate flags from government property that is not part of a museum.
Related: Companies Ban Confederate Flag Sales, But Keep Nazi And Che Guevara Merchandise
According to the poll, 50 percent of Americans supported private companies choosing not to sell or manufacture items featuring the Confederate flag, while 47 percent opposed it. Looking at the demographics, 65 percent of blacks were in support of private companies halting the sale of Confederate flag merchandise, and 49 percent of whites were in support.
The poll was conducted through telephone interviews by ORC International on June 26-28, a little over a week after the Charleston shooting occurred on June 17. A total of 1,017 adult Americans were interviewed, and there was a margin of sampling error plus or minus three percentage points. 611 of the interviews were conducted with landline respondents and 406 of the interviews were conducted with cell phone respondents.
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