President Donald Trump said some people view the Confederate flag with pride after he was asked if the banner is an offensive symbol in an interview broadcast on Sunday.
Trump said it depends on “who youre talking about” when considering whether the flag is offensive.
“When people proudly have their Confederate flags, theyre not talking about racism. They love their flag, it represents the South, they like the South. People right now like the South. Id say its freedom of many things, but its freedom of speech,” Trump said.
Asked if he was offended by the Confederate flag, the president added: “Well, Im not offended either by Black Lives Matter. Thats freedom of speech.”
“You know, the whole thing with cancel culture, we cant cancel our whole history. We cant forget that the north and the south fought. We have to remember that, otherwise well end up fighting again,” he asserted.
Eleven southern states banded together in a Confederacy in the 1800s, seceding from the United States. A civil war that consumed the young country for four years began in 1861.
The Union, or the northern states, won in the end and the southern states later rejoined the United States.
Some people have continued to fly the Confederate flag at their homes or other places.
A number of organizations and agencies in recent weeks announced their banning of the flag. NASCAR banned it last month while the U.S. military prohibited it being flown on its bases last week.
Trump criticized NASCAR for the move and has opposed the taking down of Confederate statues. He won many southern states in the 2016 election.
In 2017, after clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia, over a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, Trump correctly predicted that the push to take down monuments wouldnt stop with Confederates.
“This week its Robert E. Lee. I noticed that Stonewall Jackson is coming down. I wonder, is it George Washington next week? And is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You know, you really do have to ask yourself, where does it stop?” Trump told reporters at the time.
Statues of Washington and other Founding Fathers have been toppled by vandals in the wake of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Trump, in the interview broadcast Sunday, also said he might veto the defense spending bill Congress is currently working on if it ultimately includes a provision requiring the renaming of bases named after Confederates.
“I might,” the president said, adding: “Yeah, I might.”