State Sen. Ernie Chambers (I) of Nebraska found himself in hot water last week after referring to the American flag as a "rag."
On Wednesday, Chambers challenged LB399, a bill meant to overhaul Nebraska's social studies requirements. Yahoo reports Chambers attempted to block it with a filibuster, arguing the legislation would erase Black history and remove mentions of the contributions of communities of color in classrooms around the state.
"Senator Groene wants to talk about the meaning of respect," Chambers said during his time on the legislature floor. "What do white people mean by it and what do Black people mean by it?"
The senator then used the American flag to explain what he meant.
"White people mean we've got to bow down to what they tell us as Black people to bow down to; I don't come here for this rag every day, and it's a rag," Chambers said, referencing the flag. "That's all it is to me."
Chambers, who has often called himself the "defender of the downtrodden," also compared the American flag to the Nazi swastika.
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"When you show a way to persuade Jews to sanctify and worship the swastika, when you show me that I'll come up here and stand while you all hypocritically pretend that rag is something that it definitely is not," the senator said.
The senator who introduced the bill, Julie Slama (R), criticized her colleague's comments, according to the Washington Examiner.
“Senator Chambers’ comments not only degrade a symbol of ultimate sacrifice for our nation, but they also minimize the horrors and millions of lives lost in the Holocaust," Slama stated.
KJRH reports Sen. Tom Brewer (R), a veteran who spent more than 30 years in the military, broke down in tears in his rebuttal to Chambers.
“It rips our heart out to hear someone say that they refer to the flag as a rag because for those of us that have brought home those that we’ve lost, it’s hard to refer to the flag as a rag," Brewer said. "[B]ecause you have to fold it and you have to give it to the parents — that’s awful hard to do.”
Chambers is the longest-serving state senator in the history of Nebraska, representing District 11, which includes parts of Omaha and Nebraska. The senator is known for courting controversy. In 2007, he was criticized for attempting to sue God for the "destruction and terrorization of millions," and, in 2015, he faced pushback for referring to the police as Black people's "ISIS."
The bill has yet to pass. It was debated for three hours on Wednesday and will return to the floor if there are enough votes to end Chambers' filibuster.
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