Gov. Haley: The right side of history – Confederate flag must go

Dylann Roof did not kill because of the Confederate flag, but it stands for oppression as surely as the swastika means Nazis, not 'good fortune."

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Good for burning?
Good for burning?

WASHINGTON, June 20, 2015 – Let’s be clear up front on two points: The Confederate Battle Flag didn’t cause Dylann Roof to shoot anyone; the Confederate flag is not the cause of racism.

The Confederate flag is, however, a racist symbol.

Swastikas appear in American Indian art; there are fine examples of Navajo weaving from the 1920s in which the swastika figures prominently. The swastika is a sacred symbol to Hindus, Buddhists and Jains. Indeed, the word “swastika” comes from the Sanskrit word “svastika,” which means lucky or auspicious object.

The swastika is, nevertheless, a racist symbol.


A bully used to be a “good fellow.” “Nice” meant ignorant, silly or foolish, and “gay” meant happy. “Promiscuous” meant confused, and “punk” meant prostitute.


Confronting racism and the media’s avoidance of the subject


 

But word meanings change, and if you insist on using the word as it was used once upon a time, you aren’t standing up for truth, but for having your own way, and if you call a football lineman’s girlfriend “promiscuous,” you deserve the broken nose that you’ll get for it.

The Confederate flag doesn’t start out with good connotations all around. It was the symbol of rebellion, the flag of men who rejected their oaths to their nation in favor of their states. The principle they fought for might have been the right of states to exercise rights ensured by the Constitution, but the right they wanted to exercise was the right to own men, women and children, to treat them like property, to sell them at will, to whip them, rape them and otherwise abuse them with impunity.

It is the flag of treasonous men who fought for an ignoble institution.

We romanticize the past shamelessly.

Southern gallantry is as much a cliché as Simon Legree and Scarlet O’Hara’s dress made out of curtains. There were indeed virtues in Southern life and culture, and the federal government of the victorious North has grown ever more pervasive and oppressive. But still Southern leaders broke their oaths, and they did it to protect their states’ rights, including the right to hold slaves.

We as individuals don’t get to decide what symbols mean. Were I to become a Hindu and revere the swastika and hang one from my house, the meaning wouldn’t adapt to my desires and beliefs. The meaning is determined in a wider society, and in our society, the swastika is evil.

And the Confederate flag is racist.

A popular internet meme says that the Stars and Bars became popular in the 20th century because of the Ku Klux Klan. The historical validity of that claim is as shallow as any internet meme. Klansmen sometimes wave Confederate flags, but they marched in Washington under the Stars and Stripes. Historical pictures of their rallies feature the Union flag and the Klan’s own cross, not the flag of the Confederacy.


The Americanization of apartheid show at Emanuel AME


The Confederate flag isn’t racist because of the Klan; Klansmen sometimes wave it because it is racist. It stands for a nation that didn’t consider black men to be men, and all the romantic nostalgia in the world won’t make that go away.

Like the word “gay,” it means what most people believe it means.

If the Confederate flag ever comes to represent love and justice for all men and women, it might someday be flown with pride. And if “whore” comes to mean a strong woman of accomplishment, women might someday embrace the word and proudly call themselves “whore.”

But not today.

It is common for people to say that America is a racist country, and for others to claim that noting the existence of racism is race-baiting. In fact, this is a country that has made huge strides. In my lifetime, we’ve had our first black chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, our first black secretaries of state (one of them a black woman), our first black U.S. attorneys general, our first elected black senator from a southern state since Reconstruction, and many more firsts. Including president.

Black men and women are increasingly found in the medical professions, the sciences and as leaders of finance and industry.

But for all the progress, there are racial disparities and deeply rooted barriers to black progress, and as long as those exist, the fact that most of us would be happy to invite black friends into our homes doesn’t make the racism go away. It isn’t race-baiting to recognize that fact, nor the fact that police officers—black and white—are more likely to shoot a black man than a white one, and that black men are more likely to end up in the justice system than white men.

The whys are many and complex. They include well-intentioned liberal programs that devastate black families, a history of bad schools, the destruction of values that once instilled in black kids the desire to learn. There are a lot of factors working against black kids and black families, and even if none of us had any personal dislike for black people, the effect would remain racist.

Getting rid of the Confederate flag will fix none of this. It would, however, remove a small and grating irritation, an ugly symbol that demeans some while filling others with pride in their heritage.

Individuals must retain the right to fly the Confederate flag from their homes and businesses as they please; it is a political symbol that we have no business banning. But neither does it deserve the respect granted it by its display on public property. When it comes to the meanings of symbols, the majority rules, often tyrannically. That’s life.

Now get rid of that toxic flag.

 

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  • It is an aggressive battle flag of a treasonous enemy force that killed more Americans than were ever lost to the Nazis or Empire of Japan. It indeed has a place in our history.. In a museum where it can be listed as an artifact of a very dark era, and people can educate themselves about why it is in a museum and not flying freely around ANY Government facility.

  • Daniel Pose

    Dylann Roof did not kill because of the U.S. flag, but it stands for oppression as surely as the swastika means Nazis. The Pledge of Allegiance to the U.S. flag was the origin of the Nazi salute and Nazi behavior under German National Socialism (that is one of the amazing discoveries by the historian Dr. Rex Curry). Only the gesture has changed to hide the pledge’s putrid past (and present). The pledge was written by a socialist and was used to impose government schools (socialist schools). Those schools imposed segregation by law and taught racism as official policy to genereations. Even after some school segregation ended the government continued its racism and used forced busing to destroy black neighborhoods. The old media will never print a historic photograph or film footage of the early gesture. One photograph shows a segregated class forced to perfrom the early stiff-armed salute. The pledge continues to be the source of Nazi-style behavior. It is why bad people loudly tout the Pledge of Allegiance: in a effort to perpetuate and revive that mentality. Some of them do it with the earlier gesture, to promote “American heritage.” The U.S. flag is an aggressive battle flag of a treasonous enemy force that killed more Americans than were ever lost to the Nazis. It indeed has a place in our history… In a museum where it can be listed as an artifact of a very dark era, and people can educate themselves about why it is in a museum and not flying freely. Remove the pledge from the flag; remove the flag from schools; remove schools from government.

  • t

    Jim…

    They say “opinions” are like something or other… I’m sure you know that one… Not everyone agrees, as you point out, that across the board this flag is a “racist symbol”. That isn’t to say it isn’t used by racists but it is by no means exclusively or even predominantly used by them, unless of course you are a recluse with preconceived opinions suffering from a rotten education and have made no effort to go beyond it. Then again, admittedly, misinformation and poor education certainly do have an impact on public points of view.

    The idea which you present, that there were a bunch of men who rejected their oath to their country who took up this flag and by doing so were treasonous is willful ignorance or a purposeful lie… They fully believed that their oaths were to the States they resided in first and there is good reason that they believed that. You are pushing a falsehood to support your thesis.

    You write as though you believe that there were no legitimate arguments about interpretations of the Constitution and its application at the time. Is that simply selective history on your part?

    Somehow you have gotten the idea that when it comes to the use of symbols it should be a simple “majority” decision about what is acceptable out in the open and what is not. Nothing like throwing out the basic precepts upon which you think your country was founded in order to support your assertion. You even say it is unfair but “that’s life”.

    By your arguments why is it acceptable to fly any flags including State flags on public buildings except the US flag? (By the way, that symbolizes rape pillage plunder domination and subjugation to many around the world these days and is recognized as so by more than a few right here.)

    The old Confederate Flag that was never official isn’t a strictly religious symbol that would violate separation of church and state. The flag isn’t universally seen as “toxic”.

    Language and the meanings of other symbols change with usage. The key there is usage. You would stiffle the usage and freeze the meaning to what you and some, but not all, claim it is now. Your argument using the swastika leaves out a critical element: the context. On a military uniform where the people wearing it are espousing racial supremacy is one thing, By someone of different heritage using it as an expression of an ancient spirtual concept quite another. Your assertion that were there to come a time when “the Confederate flag ever comes to represent love and justice for all men and women, it might someday be flown with pride.” is fatuous when you would disallow that to happen through any continued useage.

    You are striding confidently into the field of political correctness which pushes the idea that we can safely ignore our core precepts, like individual freedoms, and instead use concepts of “democracy” and “majority rule” in all aspects of our lives, even in areas where they have no applicability, if, of course, we hold those precepts to have any value.

    We all have our fantasies… I don’t live in yours.

    Your assertions of beliefs and points of view of those who flew and do fly the flag are more than simply taken out of historical context and conveniently fitted into the current day political correctness of our times. The meme you promote that the county fought a war to free slaves is a crock. You may believe it but it still a crock. The northern states were the traders and suppliers of Slaves and they profited handsomely. Your moral presentation doesn’t hold water and if it did there would have been accommodations to assure that those freed slaves were provided more than the lives of wild animals loose on the land which is essentially what the situation amounted to after the unconscionable cruelty and war crimes that were committed in order to “subdue” the south.

    Waring on civilian populations, which is what our beloved Federal Government did, gets you a ticket to a war crimes court today.

    A war fairly fought and good triumphing over evil? Not by a long shot!

    Myopia? Propaganda? Both? More?

    I always did think that scholarly credentials were often more about attendance than an indication of having become educated.

    And for Daniel…

    To use the word “socialism” as an epithet to describe any collective action which a community undertakes in order to establish the commonly and jointly used infrastructure which promotes the community, facilitates its advancement and provides for a greater degree of enhanced human understanding through things like a basic publicly provided education is simply a willful distortion, not even just a misinterpretation of data.

    Society itself, the very aggregation of people into groups, by your implied application of the word renders all of society nothing but “socialism”. Quite simply, you have attempted to take an economic/political theory and apply it to things outside of its intended sphere of applicability. Not an uncommon tactic but it distorts and misrepresents a situation.

    When is a salute a particular kind of salute? A salute is a gesture of acknowledgement. A salute becomes a particular kind of salute when it is to something or someone. I can’t say if it is Dr. Rex Curry or the ones who tout his “findings”, but there is willful misapplication of information to spin an agenda there.

    Information, data, facts, good well documented ones, can and often are all used to reach incorrect conclusions… it is the core of propaganda in the word’s least benign meaning. Critical thought among the population is sorely lacking…

  • USDefender

    This is black racism at its worst! Removing our American Confederate flags from their flights in southern states will not make one iota difference in the tragic deaths of the church people who died at the hand of an insane person! Worse, removing and denigrating our CSA flags is stupid, disrespecful and in a sense a bit insane. The only people who will benefit from this atrocious business on the flags is the politicians, and big business. The rest of us will lose an important freedom, and gasp at the intensity of black racism being thrust at us!