I try awful hard on this blog to stay away from political or religious discussions, mainly because someone is going to be offended by what I write. Quite honestly, I don’t mind that because you can’t please everyone. But I prefer lighter writings laced with humor or questions that make you think about how you might handle or react to a situation.
But Charleston, S.C. has changed that for this post. For the purposes of full disclosure, I’m a 63-year-old white male who lives in New Jersey and has his entire life. I grew up in a pretty diversified town and have seen enough things, including race riots, so that nothing really surprises me.
The murder of nine African-Americans as they sat in their place of worship by a white man whose desire was to start a Civil War was horrific. The fact that the confederate flag ever had a place of honor in any state defies the logic of common decency. The fact that it is still flying today, after all that’s happened, leads me to think of words that I prefer not to use.
My purpose is not to engage in a history lesson here but it should be noted that this symbol was never the official flag of the Civil War. In fact, three different flags were used but the one that was generally considered the official flag of the confederacy was General Robert E. Lee’s army flag of Northern Virginia.
The confederate flag that flies today was used at Veteran’s events following the Civil War but gained prominence in the 1940’s when used by the newly formed Dixiecrat Party as a symbol of segregation and whose motto was “segregation forever.”
Many people argue that this flag is a source of southern pride. I’ve always been curious about that statement because I’m not sure why this flag needs to be a source of pride. I’ve visited Charleston and other cities in South Carolina. The area is beautiful and the people have always been very friendly, even to this northerner. That should be your source of pride South Carolina, not a symbol that is associated with segregation and slavery; and make no mistake, this flag, is a symbol of a darker time in this country. If perception is indeed reality, there should be no discussion here.
The person who committed these murders, whose name I won’t mention here and whose face I prefer never to see again on any news show or paper, wanted to create civil unrest in this country. He believed the murder of these innocent people might create the type of riots he saw in Baltimore. Or worse. But that didn’t happen. Instead the families of those who were murdered forgave him of his crime and the church and community came together in prayer and hope for understanding and healing.
By law, only the government of South Carolina has the power to remove this flag. But the stronger message it will send to this murderer and anyone else who may have similar thoughts is this….
We don’t want this symbol of slavery and oppression to be a part of our lives any longer. We don’t want it associated with the state in which we live or the people we represent. We understand this move will not change the past but we also understand that we can’t move forward to a place of understanding unless we educate our children and own up to our mistakes. Because our only hope is that our children aren’t taught hate and fear. Our only hope is that our children will learn acceptance and understanding. The removal of this flag would be a small step in that direction so that future generations don’t have the false belief that this symbol is a source of pride.
Just take the damn flag down.