McConnell’s change of heart

Protesters hold a sign during a rally to take down the Confederate flag at the South Carolina Statehouse, Tuesday, June 23, 2015, in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)

Glenn McConnell’s decision to support the removal of the Confederate battle flag from the Statehouse grounds should help expedite that important action in the wake of the murder of nine people at Emanuel AME Church on June 17.

As a leader of the state Senate in 2000, Mr. McConnell was instrumental in forging the compromise that brought the flag off the Statehouse dome to a Confederate monument.

Mr. McConnell’s announcement should encourage legislators who served with him to recognize the wisdom of removing the divisive symbol altogether from the seat of state government.

And it should encourage those who see the flag as representing an important element in the state’s heritage to acknowledge that the flag is also viewed as a symbol of secession, slavery, and legal segregation by other South Carolinians, black and white.

As Mr. McConnell, now president of the College of Charleston, explained in a written statement Thursday morning, it is important “to respect the views of all citizens as best we reasonably can.”

And clearly, opposition to the flag’s location at the Statehouse has grown since the shootings at Emanuel.

A 21-year-old Lexington man allegedly committed the murders to foment “race war.” Photos on the Internet show him posing with a Confederate flag and a handgun.

Mr. McConnell’s comments conveyed some reluctance to abandon the hard-fought compromise of 2000. But the tragedy that Charleston and the state have suffered convinced him of its necessity.

“Therefore, I support Governor Haley’s call to remove the Confederate soldier’s flag from Statehouse grounds as a visible statement of courtesy and good will to all those who may be offended by it,” he wrote.

“Courtesy and good will ... respect the views of all citizens.” Those sentiments should guide the Legislature when it considers the flag’s removal.

If it does, this long contentious issue soon can be put to rest.