National Rifle Association (NRA) board member Ted Nugent said opponents of the Confederate flag should value “substance over symbolism,” and asked, “If we burned every Confederate flag today, would they stop shooting each other in Chicago?”
Nugent defended the Confederate flag on July 8 during an appearance on the Blog Talk Radio show, World Positive Thinkers, just hours before the South Carolina House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to remove the Confederate flag from the South Carolina Statehouse grounds. The flag, which FoxNews.com noted was raised on the Statehouse grounds “more than 50 years ago to protest the civil rights movement,” will be removed on July 10.
Although it's been a contentious issue in South Carolina for years, momentum to remove the flag increased following the apparently racially-motivated June 17 mass shooting at the African-American Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston that left nine people dead.
During his World Positive Thinkers appearance, Nugent was asked to address calls by activists that his fellow Detroit musician Kid Rock should stop displaying the Confederate flag at concerts. Nugent said, “I believe that we always have to look at substance over symbolism and I think we have to be honest,” before asking, “If we burned every Confederate flag today, would they stop shooting each other in Chicago? If we burned every Confederate flag today, would we stop sanctuary cities from accommodating murderers and rapists and savage people?”
Nugent, who said that he flies a Confederate flag at his residence, defended displaying the flag by saying, “I believe that if you believe the Confederate flag is one of honor for the Southern tradition, I believe you should have every right in the world to display that flag and wave it proudly.”
On July 8, Nugent also wrote on Facebook that it was “bullshit” to remove the flag from the South Carolina Statehouse grounds.
Nugent has long defended the Confederate flag, and in 2012 caused controversy with a column that said, “I'm beginning to wonder if it would have been best had the South won the Civil War.”
In 2000, Nugent commented on a debate that resulted in the Confederate flag being moved from atop the South Carolina Statehouse to a nearby Civil War memorial on the Statehouse grounds. In response to a campaign by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) that urged people not to spend money on tourism in South Carolina, several entertainers cancelled planned appearances. Nugent, however, reportedly wore Confederate flag clothing during a Greenville concert and told the crowd, “Those politically correct (profanity) can take the flag down, but I am going to wear it forever.”
The Houston Chronicle reported in 2007 that during then-Republican Texas Gov. Rick Perry's inauguration party, “Nugent appeared onstage wearing a cut-off T-shirt emblazoned with the sure-to-draw-headlines Confederate flag and shouting some unflattering remarks about non-English speakers, according to people who were in attendance.”