After Confederate flag battle, South Carolina senator questions Mass. banner

“You got an Indian with a – what’s that all about?’’

The Massachusetts state seal and flag.
The Massachusetts state seal and flag.

South Carolina officials voted this summer to remove their state’s Confederate flag after a devastating, racially-charged mass murder in a Charleston church.

While explaining his support of that decision on Thursday, Sen. Lindsey Graham also asked pointed questions about Massachusetts’s own dated flag.

“What are y’all arguing about with your flag? You got an Indian with a – what’s that all about?’’ he asked in an interview with The Boston Globe and Boston.com on Thursday. “What is that – is the guy holding a severed arm?’’

The Republican presidential candidate brought up the Massachusetts flag on his own, and it was not immediately visible during the interview.

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“Isn’t there something about your state flag?’’ Graham asked. “I never understood what that was all about.’’

In late June, Graham gave support to the push to remove the Confederate flag from South Carolina state house grounds. He said on Thursday that he made up his mind after meeting with the families of victims.

“The victims’ families, by embracing the shooter, showed a level of decency and humanity that is just almost mindboggling,’’ he said. “Most of us in politics understood this was the moment to get this issue behind us.’’

The Massachusetts state flag and state seal feature an image of a Native American holding a bow and arrow pointed down in a gesture of peace. Above, a disembodied arm wields a sword. The Latin motto surrounding the image means, “By the sword we seek peace, but peace only under liberty.’’

The Boston Globe’s Yvonne Abraham criticized the Massachusetts flag this summer and detailed the failed efforts to change it.

“It is hard to read it all together as anything but a flag designed by and for the colonial conquerors who made the Bay State, the ones who won the land — with a short time out for Thanksgiving dinner — by all but eradicating the people who got here first,’’ Abraham wrote.

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Gallery: The Charleston church shooting

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