Rick Clark, the sheriff of Pickens County, South Carolina, is refusing to lower the flag to half-staff to honor the life of Nelson Mandela, publicly defying the orders of President Barack Obama.
After Mandela died on December 5 at the age of 95-years-old, Obama issued a declaration ordering all U.S. flags—from the White House to government buildings and military outposts—to be flown at half-staff through sunset on Monday, December 9. A rare honor for a foreign dignitary that Clark doesn’t feel Madiba deserves.
Despite all that Mandela did for global peace and democracy, because he wasn’t American, Clark feels that only South Africa should honor him and posted the following on his Facebook page:
After one commenter repeatedly posted that President Obama had the right to order the flags lowered, Clark responded with the following:
If you will read Title 4 of the US Flag code it is not an “enforceable law” with penalties. “The Code is designed “for the use of such civilian groups or
organizations as may not be required to conform with regulations promulgated by one
or more executive departments” of the federal government.3 Thus, the Flag Code
does not prescribe any penalties for non-compliance nor does it include enforcement
provisions; rather the Code functions simply as a guide to be voluntarily followed by
civilians and civilian groups.” Further more, “The Federal Flag Code does not purport to cover all possible situations.
Although the Code empowers the President of the United States to alter, modify,
repeal, or prescribe additional rules regarding the flag,4 no federal agency has the
authority to issue “official” rulings legally binding on civilians or civilian groups.” Before you try to portray me as a “law breaker” understand the law, codes, and civil law. There is a big difference between “RULES” and the Law and you should know that before you accuse me of behavior that I took an oath to uphold the Constitution!
And supporters cheered him on and voiced pride in his patriotism. At least two said that Obama and Mandela were both from Africa, so that’s why he ordered the flags lowered.
But the real kicker? One commenter said that Mandela would support Clark’s decision because he was doing what he felt was right.
Only in America.
As previously reported by NewsOne, the United States didn’t remove Mandela from its terrorist list until 2008.
Clark’s actions and those of his supporters prove that White supremacy and privilege—and illusions of American exceptionalism—are alive and well in South Carolina.
UPDATE: 12/7/13, 1:11 PM ET
Pickens deleted his disrespectful comment about Mandela, and replaced it with the following:
In an interview with the GreenvilleOnline.com, Pickens doubled-downed on his refusal to lower the flag to half-staff, saying it “weakens what the honor means for Americans who have died for their country.”
Responding to a question about the support that he had received for his original Facebook announcement, Pickens praised the citizens of Pickens County: “I think Pickens County is God-loving and military-loving people, and they’ve just been real supportive.”
While Pickens seems to believe that the “cycle” is over, the local chapter of the NAACP might have something to say about that:
“I expect for him to follow proper protocol and fly the flag at half-staff because that’s the respect I would like to give Nelson Mandela as a citizen of Pickens County,” said Sheila Crawford, President of the Pickens County Chapter of the NAACP.
As we previously reported, Pickens plans to ignore President Obama’s orders and raise the flag tomorrow after observing the bombing of Pearl Harbor.