South Carolina lawmakers on Tuesday voted to debate whether or not the Confederate flag outside their statehouse should be taken down. The Civil War ended back in 1865, so they’re only about 150 years late. Considering how bad government gridlock can be, that’s not too shabby!
Prodded by Gov. Nikki Haley’s call the day before to move the flag to a museum, lawmakers approved a measure enabling a flag debate by a vote of 103-10 in the House and a voice vote in the Senate. The House vote brought a standing ovation and rounds of applause after Democratic and Republican leaders jointly sponsored the measure in a show of uncharacteristic unity. Very few lawmakers rose to say the flag should stay; some said they were saving speeches for what promises to be an emotional debate later this summer. All of this, as you well know, comes in the wake of Dylann Roof’s murder of nine black people.
The call to remove Confederate flags is not just limited to South Carolina.
Mississippi House Speaker Philip Gunn called for removing the Confederate emblem from the state flag. Both Democrats and Republicans in Tennessee said a bust of Confederate general and Ku Klux Klan leader Nathan Bedford Forrest must go from the Senate. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe wants vanity license plates depicting the Confederate flag replaced. McConnell joined Kentucky’s Republican nominee for governor, Matt Bevin, in calling for the removal of a statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis from their state Capitol’s rotunda. Big businesses also took action: Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Amazon.com Inc., EBay Inc., Target Corp. and Sears Holding Corp. announced they would no longer sell merchandise featuring the Confederate flag. And the Valley Forge Flag Co., which has sent flags into battle and to the moon, said it won’t make them anymore.
Of course, not everyone is happy about this. There are many people crying about “the loss of Southern heritage” and “disrespecting Confederate soldiers who fought bravely.” To those arguments, I have two responses.
1: “Southern heritage” includes slavery, Jim Crow, segregation, lynchings, and a whole lot of racist crap. Not that there wasn’t any of that up north, but it was really bad down here. Is that a heritage you really want remembered?
2: Nobody is saying that Confederate soldiers didn’t fight bravely. There were many heroes on the Southern side of the war. They fought and died for their country, they should be remembered and honored. It’s the underlying cause that they fought for that was unjust. You know who else fought bravely for an unjust cause? Nazis. Countless German soldiers in WWII fought and died with honor, but the cause they fought for (sometimes unknowingly) was just too horrible! You don’t see any swastikas flying over WWII burial grounds, do you?
Personally, I think that the confederate flag belongs in a museum, or on private property. If someone wants to go and buy a confederate flag to fly over their home, that’s their right to do so. However, I don’t believe the Confederate flag should be flying over state/national property. Why should any flag fly over a government building except for the flag of the country/state? Leave the rebel flag for museums and history buffs (like me!) to collect.
Once gain, I don’t think the flag should be banned and forgotten. Like the Nazi flag, it needs to be remembered for what it is: A symbol of a dark time in our history. It should never be forgotten, so we can make sure it is never repeated. The men who fought should be honored, not the cause they fought for.