In the wake of the tragic events in South Carolina where nine African Americans died as a result of a racially motivated shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC on June 17th - South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has called for the removal of the Confederate flag from the grounds of the state Capitol.
Haley stated that, "Today, we are here in a moment of unity in our state, without ill will, to say it is time to move the flag from the Capitol grounds," she said.
Haley also stated, "This flag, while an integral part of our past, does not represent the future of our great state.”
A lot as been made of the Confederate battle flag being a symbol. There are advocates on both sides of the flag issue - some saying that it's a symbol of racism, hate and oppression and the other saying it's a denotation of Southern pride.
It begs the question what exactly does Southern pride mean and if it exists is it worth using the Confederate battle flag as it's primary insignia when clearly it has become a rallying cry and emblem of slavery and mistreatment of minorities for decades?
Some say that the flag is a symbol of rebellion and of defiance against the federal government. That in and of itself is not necessarily something racist but what the southern states were in defiance of may very well be.
In the 1800's it was the Confederate battle flag at a time when the South was pro-slavery and oppression, it was resurrected again in the southern states as a defiance of Civil Rights, desegregation, pro Jim Crow laws and worse.
Those who claim this flag as a symbol of pride in southern culture are at best mistaken.
There are those that argue that a symbol is just that, that it means nothing but ask a holocaust survivor or relative of a survivor what it means to see a Swastika on a flag or t-shirt.
Symbols like words leave indelible mark on our psyche and while freedom of speech is a hallmark of our society, state sponsored psychological oppression should not be tolerated.
Regardless of history it is beyond irresponsible to fly a Confederate flag in any capacity in or on a government building.
One doesn't have to look too far to find the origins of the national flag of the Confederate States, the designer of the second and third national flags of the Confederacy explains it thusly:
As a people we are fighting to maintain the Heaven-ordained supremacy of the white man over the inferior or colored race; a white flag would thus be emblematical of our cause.
—William T. Thompson (April 23, 1863)
As a national emblem, it is significant of our higher cause, the cause of a superior race, and a higher civilization contending against ignorance, infidelity, and barbarism. Another merit in the new flag is, that it bears no resemblance to the now infamous banner of the Yankee vandals.
—William T. Thompson (May 4, 1863)
William Thompson's statements about what this flag represents leaves very little doubt as to why in this day and age there should be little tolerance for it flying over a government building where equality under the law is guaranteed.
The removal of the flag will never erase it from memory, lexicon or history nor will it guarantee or dissuade someone like Dylann Roof from taking his anger and hatred out on innocent people but it very well may begin a process of dialogue and discourse that is long overdue.