With a swiftness that no one could have possibly imagined, the Confederate battle flag potentially will be coming down in a number of places in the South following the lead of Gov. Nikki Haley’s actions Monday in South Carolina.
As an African-American male and a son of the South, I can’t help but smile and feel that there may be hope of unity and healing for our country. Yet, there are matters that give me pause in the midst of this olive branch being extended that comes at the price of nine human beings being murdered last week by a home-grown terrorist at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.
While my spirit is buoyed by Haley using her political muscle to lead the charge to have the flag removed from the Statehouse grounds, I am sickened by the number of cowards who are now afforded political cover and feel it is safe to come off like they never liked the thing to begin with. They previously dodged questions about display of that particular flag, mumbling about states’ rights or trying to make ridiculous arguments that minimized the role of slavery and racism in the fabric of Southern heritage. Their spin has been that an otherwise perfectly good symbol of valor and righteousness has been “appropriated” ― fairly recently, no less ― by a handful of White supremacists, so now we must not display it.
Hayley did not mince words, saying the banner is a “deeply offensive symbol of a brutally oppressive past,” and doesn’t belong in such a public space. I applaud her straight talk as well as that of Mitt Romney, who fired the first tweet of conservative political heavyweights last weekend in calling for the flag to come down.
Even though I feel like the evolved views and simultaneous enlightenment occurred as the result of a memo coming down from headquarters, I am pleased by the anticipated, long-overdue outcome. This, however, is a baby step along the road of dealing with reality. We can remove all iterations of the Confederate flag from all government-based spaces, but we cannot legislate what is on the hearts of those who would continue to wrap themselves in the ideology represented by that flag.
G.E. Branch III is the Online Editor of diverseeducation.com
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