Lindsey Graham Tells CNN: Confederate Flag is ‘Part of Who We Are’

"The problems we have in South Carolina and throughout the world are not because of a movie or a symbol, but because of what's in people's heart."

Screen Shot 2015-06-19 at 11.10.15 AMIn the wake of the racially motivated shooting on a historically black church in Charleston, S.C. this week, a national debate has remerged about the insensitivity of flying the Confederate flag above the Statehouse in South Carolina.

CNN’s Alisyn Camerota confronted Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on the issue Friday morning, asking whether it was time to take down the flag that has been the symbol of so much hate and violence.

“Well, at the end of the day, it’s time for the people in South Carolina to revisit that decision” said the GOP presidential candidate, “But this is part of who we are.”

Graham admitted that the flag represents different things to different people, including racism and sedition, but stopped short of conceding that it incites violence: “The problems we have in South Carolina and throughout the world are not because of a movie or a symbol, but because of what’s in people’s heart.”

“What do we do in terms of our history?” Graham rhetorically asked Camerota, to which the New Day co-anchor responded, “What is the answer?”

“I think the answer is that we move forward in a balanced way, that we make sure that the compromise in South Carolina works here,” Graham replied.

“Meaning the compromise of being able to still fly the Confederate flag, because it’s part of the ‘proud’ tradition of some Carolinians?”

Graham responded by pointing out that there is a Federal war memorial and an African-American memorial in front of South Carolina’s Statehouse — as if these were somehow concessions.

“It works here,” he ended. “That’s what the Statehouse agreed to do, but you could probably visit other places in the country and there’s some symbol that doesn’t strike you as quite right.”

Graham’s defense of the flag comes at an awkward time, as recent revelations have surfaced that the Senator’s parents owned and ran a segregated bar even after the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Watch interview, courtesy of CNN.