The shooting on June 17th at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston, South Carolina was horrific and despicable. It has been labeled a hate crime, and accurately so I think. 21-year-old Dylann Roof, if found guilty, should probably fry (a figure of speech – I know the chair isn’t a death penalty option).
Going beyond the crime and the racial hatred it represents, I’m not so sure that having the confederate flag get dragged into the heated anger and debate, to become the center of a controversy of its own, is fair, accurate, and nothing but political correctness on steroids. I don’t really voice much preference either way on this, mainly because I don’t feel strongly enough about either side. I’m from neither the north nor south, so my opinion is much like an unrelated spectator’s opinion. I don’t have roots that run deep with the issue. But then again, not having that kind of close and emotional connection to the debate is what makes for an objective view.
The confederate flag represents the South, as originally defined as the Confederate states of the Civil War. Those states clearly identify with that to this day. I don’t interpret it as a symbol of slavery or racial hatred. It represents the states, the people, the region, that historically have. Flying the confederate flag is NOT a confirmation or oath of any sort to being a racist, bigot, or anything. It means the person displaying it is from the South and shows pride for its history, similar to a flag that represents someone’s ethnic pride. That is taking the good and the bad part of its history. That pride equates to a statement and should be protected by the same Constitutional laws as that which protects our freedom of speech.
I do agree with the Confederate flag being banned from flying at the South Carolina state capitol because it isn’t the state flag. There should be a clear separation between state official representation in that sense, and to display it as a symbol of such official representation isn’t appropriate (though I never thought twice about it until this debate arose). But again, branding it as racist is going too far. Stop broadcasting the Dukes of Hazzard TV shows? Remove all business ties with it? Overreaction and an impulse to be politically correct so as not to offend those who inaccurately make those dumb associations is all that is.
Again, that’s just me. I have no vested interest in the debate.