Republican House Speaker Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin said he supports taking down the Confederate flag from inside the U.S. Capitol building because it is insulting to many and divides the American people.
Speaking during a town hall meeting at Washington, D.C.'s, Georgetown University, Ryan was asked about a recent decision from Republican House Administration Committee Chairwoman Candice Miller of Michigan to replace the state flags that hang in a Capitol hallway with images of state coins. Several state flags have visual references to the Confederate flag and Miller has said that was a reason for her decision.
“Mississippi is still going to be represented because we’re putting the commemorative coins up for each of the states,” Ryan said, according to The Huffington Post. “Here’s the issue -- and I think [Republican Gov.] Nikki Haley [of South Carolina] did the right thing -- and we may not agree, but this symbol does insult. This symbol I think does more to divide this country that to unify this country.”
Ryan referred Haley's decision to take down the Confederate flag from the South Carolina Capitol. Haley did so in July 2015 in response to a national conversation that erupted about the flag's symbolic connection to racism. That happened shortly after Dylann Roof, an admitted white supremacist, allegedly walked into a black church in Charleston, South Carolina and murdered nine black parishioners.
"I think the more important part is it should have never been there," Haley said at the time, according to CNN.
Ryan repeated that line of reasoning during the Georgetown University meeting.
“This symbol does insult,” he said. “This symbol, I think, does more to divide this country than to unify this country.”
Because the Capitol building is in the nation's capital and, as such, represents all Americans, Ryan concluded it was important to remove the controversial flag.
“As a states rights person, it is up to the states to decide these things,” Ryan said. “But I gotta tell you, if in the Capitol we’re going to have symbols, we’re gonna have symbols that unify people, that don’t divide people.”