Wednesday, June 24, 2015

It's Simply the Right Time

One hundred and fifty years after South Carolina led the nation into disunity and war, it takes a stand to remove a symbol of the national tragedy.  South Carolina's Governor Nikki Haley is calling for the removal of the Confederate flag from the grounds of the state capitol.  "One hundred and fifty years after the end of the Civil War, the time has come," Haley said, adding the flag "causes pain for so many." The measure to consider removing the flag passed by a wide margin.

The flag, which is seen by many white Southerners as a way to honor their ancestors who fought for the Confederacy, has been perverted by hate groups.  These groups have made the flag a symbol of racial and religious bigotry.  They turned the flag into a banner for the lynchings and perversions of the Jim Crow South.

The time is right for the new South to remove the flag from public buildings and place it in historical museums. The murders in Charleston have tied the flag to hate, lawlessness, and crime. It is, as we have pointed out several times, an insult to all minorities.  I doubt that the great Confederate generals would find any honor in the way that the flag has become misused today.

We applaud Walmart's decision to remove all merchandise bearing the Confederate flag from its stores, saying such items had "improperly" found their way onto shelves. Other retailers including Sears/Kmart, eBay, Amazon, Etsy and Google Shopping have ended their sale of merchandise with Confederate logos.

Mitt Romney said "It's a symbol of racial hatred  - remove it now to honor Charleston's victims." Other politicians should issue similar statements in support or opposition of displaying the flag in public venues. There is no place for "wiggle room" statements in this debate.

Rush Limbaugh entered the fray when he told his listeners that the effort to rid of the flag is aimed at "destroying the South as a political force," and he predicted: "The next flag that will come under assault, and it will not be long, is the American flag."  Wow! Clearly Mr. Limbaugh was not very good at completing the follow the numbered dots puzzles. How does removing the flag of rebellious southerners who wanted to destroy the Union lead to "assaults" on the the flag of the United States?  How does removing the flag which is objectionable to many, perhaps most southerners impact the political power of the south?  It seems to me that actions would tend to build a stronger more cohesive south.

Still, as we have written before, the issue is a state decision.  The federal government is not going to come sweeping down and order the removal the flag.  The question for state legislators is whether they want to offend part of their residents and align with those who use the flag as the banner for hate and racism.  South Carolina legislators who were first to secede are now first to remove the flag.

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