Keyes Sees Two Sides to Confederate Flag Issue

By Bruce Sullivan | July 7, 2008 | 8:25 PM EDT

Arlington, VA ( - Saying that he believes it is a decision best left up to the people of South Carolina, GOP Presidential hopeful Alan Keyes told he sees the issue of flying the Confederate flag over the statehouse from two perspectives - an African-American and a supporter of states' rights.

"Some people want to see it [the Confederate flag] as just a symbol of slavery and oppression, I know better," Keyes told in an interview.

Keyes added that he believes many people fought and died for the South during the Civil War who were not supporters of slavery. Keyes said his father gave his middle name, Lee, to him because he admired Confederate General Robert E. Lee.

"My middle name Lee is after Robert E. Lee because my father respected him as a general and as a man who rejected slavery and rejected that whole system, but felt nonetheless honor bound to fight for his state."

Keyes said people should not pretend that the Confederate battle flag did not fly over some "honorable men."

However, Keyes told he believes that two of his Republican opponents for the presidential nomination, Texas Governor George W. Bush and Senator John McCain have been indifferent to the feelings of African-Americans on the issue. He called their responses "a travesty."

"I am a Black American," Keyes told, "I know good and well what it means when you see the Confederate flag given that it was abused by the Ku Klux Klan, lynchers."