Following the horrible tragedy in Charleston, there have been prayers, vigils, questions, and a standing-room-only-and-people-also-outside worship service at Mother Emmanuel Church. All part of coming to grips with the cold reality of the lives lost, not forgotten.
However, this has brought another issue back to the forefront: that of the confederate flag flying now at a confederate veterans' memorial at the State Capitol. I believe in one recent Guardian article it was stated that a bill will be introduced in the legislature to indeed retire this hateful symbol. And I make no apologies, for I feel that is exactly what it is.
You can read about the current controversy and the weaseling responses of presidential candidates in this story. And I don't buy this "it should be decided by the people of the state" argument. Ideally, yes, you would hope that the residents of say, SC, would do the right thing, but sometimes economic pressure seems to be the only way to overcome resistance. I hope that if it becomes clearly necessary, folks would institute and support a boycott.
I'm certainly not a lawyer, but to me it seems as though a recently decided Supreme Court case has a certain parallel. The decision supported Texas (!) in its bid to deny specialty licence plates for Sons of Confederate Veterans. "Texas had rejected the proposed plate, which includes a Confederate
battle flag, arguing that it was offensive to a "significant portion" of
the public." The Supreme Court found that since the plate would be issued by the state, it would constitute government speech and Texas was in its rights to be able to refuse. NPR News has a good recap story. I would hope that SC would realize that this divisive symbol on government grounds is offensive to any person of goodwill (and by reading comments to The Guardian story above, it emerges that opposition to this flag is not limited to solely one racial or geographic group).
And let's be blunt about it. It is indeed a racist symbol, there can be no doubt about that. In the articles and discussions, the racism of the confederacy was chillingly told in some documents that writers and commenters have brought up, including this, from confederate VP Alexander Stephens:
"Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner- stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth."
That was from the so-called 'Corner-Stone Speech' of March 21, 1861. If you have the stomach, the entire speech is here.
Therefore, I question what kind of Southern pride or heritage the defenders of this racist banner find go great.
Folks, it is now 2015.
It is time to retire that flag.
It is time to REJECT the racism and divisiveness it represents.
Take down the flag.
Take it down now.
The SC governor and assorted legislators are calling for the removal of the flag. A bill is to be introduced. Note in the account at The Guardian the turnaround of the Gov. and some of those Presidential candidates. That Gov. is a piece of work. According to the article: "Haley had long defended the flag’s presence on statehouse grounds, declaring that its removal was not an issue because “not a single CEO” had complained about it." Oh gee, guess that makes the rest of us the proverbial chopped liver. Folks, if this is how our leaders see us, get a clue.