Editorial: It’s time to #TakeItDown

Originally Published in The Johnsonian, Winthrop’s Student Newspaper. 

Two flags are flying at half-staff at the South Carolina Capitol, while one remains flying high. It is the battle flag of the Army of North Virginia and rejected national flag of the Confederate States of America. Commonly referred to as simply “the Confederate Flag”. It flies as a not so subtle indication of race relations in the American South.

The issue of the Confederate battle flag flying on state property is one discussion of many that we as a nation, state, and community will be having after this horrific event.

I wish to echo the sentiments of what many have recently been calling for in the wake of Wednesday’s massacre. The confederate battle flag should be removed fully from the state house grounds.

I am a native South Carolinian, raised in the Holy City who is a direct decedent of a Confederate veteran. I qualify for membership in the Sons of Confederate Veterans. The flag should be removed.

That flag is my heritage. A heritage of hate, terror, greed, stupidity, and ignorance.

The battle flag originally flew over the dome as symbolic protest to the impending civil rights movement.

“That damn Confederate flag” was first flown in 1962 above the dome and later moved to a Confederate memorial on the state house grounds.

A flag is an active symbol of speech a government has control over. It moves and it is replaced when it becomes tattered.

When the flag of a failed slave based nation is displayed on our state grounds it sends the wrong message to our children who tour the grounds as a part of school field trips every year.

How should a black child feel when they see a flag flown in battles in which the soldiers defended the notion that they were only three-fifths of a person?

What is the unconscious effect on a white child when they a symbol of the past in which they were legally the dominant race?

Was the flag a primary motive for the terrorist act at Mother Emanuel?

No.

But how does that excuse the fact that since Thursday the battle flag is the only flag to fly at full staff on the Capitol grounds of South Carolina. That is a disgusting insult to those who lost their lives on Wednesday night.

The nation is divided as to whether the flag represents heritage or hate. For plenty the growing sentiment is that this flag equates to hatred and a belief in antiquated ideas.

For you this flag may represent state’s rights. And that’s true, the Civil War was about the state’s right to own people.

If organizations like the CSA wish to display this symbol of “heritage”, then they can do so on their own property.

Tax payer dollars pay to mow the lawn at the state house. Tax payer voices should be respected when they call for the flag to be removed.

The flag should be removed because it’s simply the right thing to do.

State law dictates that the flag and other historical monuments can only be modified via two-thirds vote in both chambers of legislators. This is a legislative mountain I believe our state has the ability to climb.

The governor has made her cowardice stance on the issue clear, when a C.E.O. raises concerns about the flag then she will jump into action. Haley says that we should use this time to heal. How can we as a community heal ourselves when we don’t admit and attempt to rectify the issue at hand.

Removing monuments, taking down flags, and renaming buildings are not the same as rewriting history. Removing a flag is not the same as advocating for the burning of books, destroying documentaries, or banning access to information about the Civil War and the antebellum period.

In the wake of a murderous rampage nine lives were taken.

If you’re of the conservative mindset it is ok to admit that the flag sends a horrible message to our youth. John McCain regretted not calling for the removal of the flag during the 2000 presidential primary.

Mitt Romney has come forward saying the flag needs to go.

The issue has also divided members of the South Carolina GOP for years.

Though of course there are members of the Republican Party who oppose removing the flag from capitol grounds. One of which is retired state senator Arthur Ravenel Jr. In 2000 Ravenel called the NAACP the “National Association of Retarded People.” It’s ok though, he later apologized to the mentally ill for comparing them to the NAACP.

We are not beholden to the beliefs and legacy of our forefathers. It is our community and nation that we are merely taking care of for our children. The removal of this flag shows a commitment to our descendants that we are not like those before us. We recognize that the ‘stars and bars’ is a symbol rooted in ignorance.

If you’re a South Carolinian and wish to contact your General Assembly representative about this, or any other issue, then you may do so by visiting the state house legislator search engine.

A bill will be introduced in the next legislative session to remove the flag. The bill is sponsored by Republican Norman “Doug” Brannon.

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