There has been a LOT of attention given to the Confederate Flag these past weeks, following the tragic murders of nine congregants in a Charleston, SC, Bible study. I was as horrified as anyone to hear about the killings in the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, especially considering it was so close to home. I was outraged when I saw how easy it was for this obviously disturbed young man to obtain the weapons and commit this heinous act, and to know how truly close to home he got as he fled the scene of his crime. (Dylann Roof was captured in Shelby, NC, less than 50 miles from my hometown of Charlotte, where he had, in fact, stopped earlier in the night.) And I am baffled at how quickly this horrible event became about an archaic symbol, whose presence or removal has very little to do with the actual problem.
I am glad that South Carolina’s governing bodies have finally realized that this symbol has no place on government grounds, unless in a government-funded museum. I vaguely remember when I was in high school, or possibly earlier, there was some discussion about removing it, which came to nothing. Then, as now, it made no sense to me why this flag was still flying. I am Southern, and very proud of that fact, but we lost the Civil War, y’all. Time to move on.
Because, just speaking historically, the Confederacy does not exist, and does not need a flag. It is akin to Loyalists continuing to fly the British flag after England was defeated in the Revolution. It makes no sense.
Here’s the ironic thing: The Confederate Flag as we know it today was not developed until the 20th century. It bears little to no resemblance to flags used by the actual Confederate States of America. So, to those who claim it as a symbol of history, I ask, what history?
The truth is that it doesn’t matter if the flag is a historical symbol or what it’s original intent was. It has been co-opted by so many hate groups and fear-mongers that whatever that original intent was has been completely obliterated. It now means one thing and one thing only – racial hatred.
Now that I have (hopefully) made clear my distaste for the Confederate Flag, let me say this: Don’t mess with the Dukes of Hazzard! My God, people, it’s a cheesy TV show from the 70s and 80s, not a political statement. Although it has been quite some time since I’ve watched (Bo Duke was my first love at the tender age of 4), I don’t ever recall there being any sort of racial undertone to the show. The use of the flag was set dressing, nothing more.
On to the real problem: Dylann Roof brutally murdered 9 people, and instead of having an actual conversation about what allowed him to get these weapons, what prompted him to walk into this church and kill these people, or who had that influence over him, the focus quickly turned to pictures of him posing with the Confederate Flag. I don’t think “The Flag made me do it” is a viable defense.
Regardless of what the Confederate Flag has come to mean, the flag in and of itself has never made one person kill another. Whatever it represents, the flag cannot incite someone to murder. There have to be people involved, and ideas imposed upon the flag and other symbols in order for it to have any true meaning. Symbols only have that meaning which we – supposedly thinking people – give them.
So, yay for South Carolina, finally realizing that the Confederate Flag is not an appropriate representation of a Southern state. Now, what are you going to do about the real problems?