Republican presidential candidate and dormer Florida Gov. Jeb Bush defended the Confederate flag and the Confederate army, which fought for slavery, during a campaign event in Berlin, New Hampshire, on Dec. 23 (video below).
Bush was asked by a voter if Confederate symbols should be removed from pubic lands, notes Talking Points Memo.
"I think that's a state-by-state decision," Bush replied.
Bush then recalled moving seven Confederate flags off state property when he was the governor of Florida:
"I moved all of the flags off the state premises into the Florida Museum, where they would be honored, because it was part of our heritage, but it would not be a visible sign of what Florida is about.
"All of the flags, not just the Confederate flag, and it avoided opening up wounds. It was done without a big fight. The political fight that was associated in other states didn't exist because I unilaterally did it. It didn't change history.
"And it's in the Florida History Museum where is should be. I think there's a way to find the right balance, as you're bringing up. The Confederacy is part of our heritage, and it should be respected like other parts.
"It doesn't have to define who we are either because that symbol, the problem with the Confederate flag isn't the Confederacy, the problem with the Confederate flag is what it began to represent later. And that's what we have to avoid to heal those wounds."
The voter said he didn't see any racism in the Confederate flag, to which Bush responded: "I'm not sure if you were a civil rights worker in the 1960s trying to fight for equal rights for African-Americans that they would necessary agree with you and that's the point. It isn't the 19th century issue, it's the 20th century issue."
Bruce Levine, a history professor at the University of Illinois, wrote in Politico in June about the 19th century and the Confederate flag: "The Confederate States of America came into existence to preserve African-American slavery and white supremacy. After slavery's legal abolition, the defenders of white supremacy quite logically looked back upon the slaveholders' republic as their true forebears."
Ken Burns, who produced "The Civil War" PBS series, told MSNBC in June: "This was an army defending the institution of slavery, that's at the end of the day what you have to deal with."
"They were defending something which I think most of us feel is a reprehensible thing," Burns added.
Bush called the Confederate flag "racist" in June, noted CNN.