Take Down the Confederate Flag? Of Course, but Cure the Disorder That Caused It to Be Raised in the First Place

We have witnessed the removal of the Confederate battle flag from some state houses and may see it removed from more, if not all, of the states in which it continues to fly. The total removal of the flag, whenever it occurs, will be grotesquely belated. And those who warn us that its removal, though vital, is only the first step that the nation must make if it is to realize the values that it claims to hold are completely right.

But we shouldn't race too quickly past what the flag means and what its removal should signify. If the removal is driven by expediency, such as a desire to dial back the growing anger in the run-up to a presidential election, it would be a squandered opportunity to take a searching look at the current status of race in the nation.

In fact, the Confederate flag is one of many symptoms of a festering illness, one that has infected the United States since its founding as a country that recognized and relied heavily on the sale of human beings.

A recent New York Times story quoted a man who opposed the possible removal of the battle flag as the "beginning of communism" and a blow to the South, which he described as "the last bastion of liberty and independence." He concluded by noting, "Our people are dying off," before urging a white reporter to "keep reproducing." The appeal to racial purity in his statement is both abhorrent and refreshing in its honesty. It is clear that his view of liberty and independence is not intended to be inclusive. This stands in stark contrast to the disingenuous invocation of heritage and recognition of bravery which is usually relied upon to justify support for the flag.

The flag, which was resurrected in the middle of the 20th century as a symbol of opposition to the growing civil rights movement, hearkens back to a war fought to perpetuate slavery and as a means of provoking fear and terror into people whose ancestors had been previously enslaved. It is a symbol of oppression and inequality. No attempts to mask it with discussions about heritage can obscure the reality that the Confederate flag is a symptom of the diseases of hatred and discrimination.

It is neither the only indicator of that sickness nor the only one that people seek to hide by using neutral language. Attacks on Black churches are dismissed by apologists as attacks on Christianity, in spite of the fact that the perpetrators of the acts espouse clear racial hatred and often profess to be Christian themselves. In another, though not mutually exclusive, act of deflection, apologists link the attackers' actions to mental illness or anything other than the desire to destroy Black institutions, which have provided sanctuary, sustenance, and meaning to generations of Black people and have served historically as headquarters in the fight for civil rights.

But attacks against the Black community aren't restricted to white supremacist killers, they are only the most sensational manifestation of American society's enduring fear and mistrust of Black Americans.

The use of repressive and violent policing against communities of color is excused by concerns about crime. The mass incarceration of people of color that has exploded over the last several decades is the result in large part of a purportedly neutral war on drugs and tough on crime policies. Efforts to purge voting lists or prevent registration of new voters — which have disproportionately disenfranchised voters of color — are described euphemistically as "voter integrity." All, and countless other examples, are symptoms of the underlying disease that subordinates people of color and blocks their full participation in American society.

Covering symptomatic sores would not qualify as a cure for leprosy. Ignoring repeated temperatures of 105 degrees could not be considered a path to good health. Likewise, ignoring the various symptoms of the underlying discrimination that continues to threaten the body politic is a guarantee that we will continue to suffer from the disease of discrimination.

Take down the confederate flag? Yes, of course. But cure the disorder that caused it to be raised in the first place.

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Anonymous

The writer of this piece is ignorant and obviously uneducated. Blacks murderer on a much higher percentage scale than do whites. They commit a large percentage of crimes so yes they deserve to be in prison.

Blacks are the true racist in this country. Not whites as the liberals would have you believe. More whites are murdered by blacks and more white women are raped by blacks than white on black.

But Shhhhhh. Don't report this or your a racist. So say the real racist. 50% of our prison population is black. That's because they are criminals.

As for the flag well only ignorance and true intolerance would bring it down.

Let's see if the ACLU will print this. They usually sensor anything they disagree with.

Anonymous

Perhaps you should learn to spell.

Anonymous

You are an idiot

Anonymous

Lincoln wanted to send the blacks back to Africa. Its still not too late.

FreeWhiteTexan

The only confederate flag that mattered anyway was the white "We Surrender".
The "south" has risen again but with freedom and democracy as corner stones. White southerners like me have the opportunity to wipe out the last reminders of hatered, bigotry, ignorance, fascism and racism.
Let's not forget the same religion that encourages separation is rampant in black and white churches (Baptist and others) This must change from the inside, starting with the little frail white racist grandma/grandpa that sits in the front and teaches grandkids that humans are different racially.
End Race. I am a Human!

MICHAEL SEAMAN

Removing the flag from public places may well be appropriate but the banning of the flag seems to be against the first amendment. I have a computer game about civil war strategy that is no longer sold because it had a depiction of the confederate flag. Where are we headed, next Gone with the Wind?

Anonymous

https://www.aclu.org/hate-speech-campus

Anonymous

Don't forget the Black Panther Party. Black folks don't get a license to be racist. Oh, and let's not forget how whitee was able to get his filthy paws on black slaves in the first place. Oh yeah, and how if none of that would've happened there would be no black communities here in this great country. I don't agree with slavery, segregation or racism I'm just tired of hearing people cry about the past that none of us were a part of and then blaming whitee as a whole for the ignorant acts of the few racist that exist today. Let's face the truth here. Racism is coming more from the finger pointers. I'm not racist, when I witness black on white crime, I don't stop and think to myself, "that black guy must be racist." Why? Because I don't think like a racist.

Anonymous

"Few racists" what country do you live in? Racism is far spread.

Charles R. Drago

So racism finally vanishes from the land of the free.

And when the Washington, D.C. NFL franchise changes its name, all the savage injustice still being done to surviving tribal peoples of North America also will be no more, right?

White guilt. Radical chic. Symbols replaced. Problems solved.

The American Wet Dream.

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