Why South Carolina must remove the Confederate Battle Flag from Capitol Grounds

Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC. Photo credit: Post and Courier.
Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC. Photo credit: Post and Courier.

The terror and murder of innocents in Charleston’s Emanuel AME church a few days ago has rightfully sparked a discussion of our country’s problem with race–especially the fact that on a daily basis, black people are targets of white hatred.  And, in the case of 21 year-old Dylann Roof, a white racist from Eastover, South Carolina, his hatred led him to plot and murder nine individuals gathered for prayer in their own church.  They were:

Cynthia Hurd, 54
Susie Johnson, 87
Ethel Lance, 70
Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor, 49
The Honorable Rev. Clementa Pinckney, 41
Tywanza Sanders, 26
Rev. Daniel Simmons, Sr., 74
Rev. Sharonda Singleton, 49
Myra Thompson, 49

Say their names.  This is a constant refrain, because this story isn’t just about the murderer, it’s as much about those who were killed and the devastation that their families and community are left to deal with.

Enough of this.
Enough of this.

It is also time that South Carolina, in particular, remove one of the most divisive symbols on its Capitol grounds–the Confederate battle flag.  It’s the same flag that Dylann Roof sported on the front plate of his car and one, among other white supremacist flags, that he swore allegiance to.

Governor Nikki Haley feigns surprise at how someone could enter a place of worship to kill people, while also suggesting that this flag is a-okay with business CEOs.

First, Gov. Haley needs to get her head out of the sand. This wasn’t simply an attack on people of faith.  It was an act of racial terror on a specific church.  Anyone with a bare bones understanding of the state’s history, which should include Haley, knows exactly why Roof targeted Emanuel AME.

Second, whether or not CEOs have a problem with the Confederate battle flag on capitol grounds is beside the point. The South Carolina State House is the people’s house.  It doesn’t belong to the CEO of Volvo or any other business considering locating a factory in South Carolina. It belongs to all of South Carolina’s citizens, not just the ones who are clinging to a relic of white supremacy.

The Honorable Rev. Clementa Pinckney
The Honorable Rev. Clementa Pinckney

So that flag, the one that inspires racial hatred and murder and hopes of a race war, has no place on the grounds of state government. Shamefully, it flew even as The Honorable Senator Clementa Pinckney, murdered in the church he pastored, was being eulogized inside the senate chamber where he once served.

It insults his service to South Carolina. It insults all those who were murdered as they worshipped. It insults black and white citizens of the state alike, and it must come down.

It’s a small gesture and not a salve for all that is wrong, but it might begin a process of racial healing that is much needed right now.


7 thoughts on “Why South Carolina must remove the Confederate Battle Flag from Capitol Grounds

  1. I do not agree. This flag is a part of American history. It shares a part of The United States of America. Like the flag for the USA it contains the colors red, white, and blue. The flag also shares the stars and stripes. These objects have a common foundation of symbolism which do not include hatred.
    I do not condone hatred or violence. I do not believe this flag had anything to do with his actions. As you know with time we will learn more about this young man and his past and in hopes may shed light on what caused him to act out the way he did.
    I am from the state of Texas. We have about 6 flages that has flown over the state in the last 300 years. All represent a part of Texas history at different times with different ways of life. Should I or anyone else choose to display the Confederate Battle Flag I would hope that you understand the historical value. Not everyone that has the Confederate Battle Flag is a racist or a murderer. I take offence to the claim that The Confederate Battle Flag represents something other than the South during a time of Civil War. I would suggest that you or anyone else look into the mind of this young man to try and find the reason for his actions, and not look at a flag for a reason or motivation.

    • Actually, I do know something about its history. It was used in a war to defend slavery, it was used by the Ku Klux Klan to strike terror in the hearts of black southerners, it was used by segregationists who did not want blacks to receive the full benefits of citizenship, it has been used by neo-Nazis, and it continues to be used by individuals who, like Dylann Roof, are white supremacists. You may “take offence to the claim that the Confederate Battle Flag represents something other than the South during a time of Civil War,” but you should take that issue up with your fellow man who, for the past 150 years, have employed this flag to the detriment of an entire race of people. There is no mystery about what is in the mind of this young man. He has stated it clearly. He wanted a “race war,” and the Confederate flag represents his beliefs and those of others who show blatant disregard for the lives of African Americans in their midst.

  2. I live in SC and absolutely agree that the Confederate Battle Flag belongs in a museum and should not fly on state grounds. Whatever it means to various individuals, it is in reality a symbol of defiance and always has been. As a symbol of pride and heritage, it works only for those who are proud of having waged a war on their own country at great cost of lives and treasure and not having accepted their defeat. Governor Nikki Haley has said that South Carolinians love each other. Maybe so, but evidently we don’t love each other enough to stop causing the pain that we know is caused by flying the battle flag on grounds that all South Carolinians share and pay for. #TakeItDown

  3. So supporters are saying that it’s simply a historical piece. An artifact which they use for a ‘! where we came from’ item. I wonder if those same people would be understanding if the nation of Germany would post the Nazi flag and Swastika prominently, alongside the German national flag. It is merely a symbol of their past.

  4. I totally agree! It’s no different than the Nazi flag! Germany doesn’t allow it to be flown and it shouldn’t be legal to fly this flag in the US! It only belongs in a museum – in a deep, dark, ugly, cobweb-filled corner.

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