Monday, June 22, 2015

Confederate flag remnants still part of 7 state flags; S.C. editor calls for removal from Capitol grounds

UPDATE: In front of a bipartisan, biracial group of local and state officials, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley called today for removal of the Confederate flag from the state Capitol grounds.

The state flag of Mississippi is the only one
with the saltire of the Confederate battle flag
Last week's murders of nine African Americans at a historic church in Charleston, S.C., and the arrest of a white suspect who had ties to hate groups and who proudly displayed the Confederate battle flag, has re-ignited the argument about the flag and its place in society and government, especially in the South, where remnants of various rebel or Confederate state flags can be seen in seven current state flags — Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina and Tennessee, Christopher Ingraham reports for The Washington Post. (The case for Tennessee is pretty weak, in our view.)

Those seven states consist of about 60 million Americans, 12 million of them African American, "meaning roughly one third of the nation's black population lives under a state flag that evokes, at least in the eyes of many, the Confederacy," Ingraham writes. "Defenders of the flag say it's a symbol of Southern heritage. Detractors maintain that hatred and racism are an inextricable part of that heritage."

In the wake of the shootings, Graham Osteen, editor of The Sumter Item in Sumter, S.C., an hour east of the state capital of Columbia, wrote an editorial on Sunday calling for lawmakers to remove the Confederate flag from the state Capitol grounds, where it has flown over a Confederate memorial since 2000, when it was removed from the Capitol building in a compromise. Osteen wrote:
If the South Carolina General Assembly doesn't get the Confederate battle flag off the Statehouse grounds after what happened in Charleston this week, then we may as well replace the Palmetto Tree on the proper state flag—the beautiful blue one—with a swastika.
I'm sick of the cockeyed excuses from state politicians about why the Confederate flag issue is so complicated. Nine innocent black people are murdered by a 21-year-old white man consumed with racist hatred. He embraces the symbols that divide people, including the Confederate flag, and declares his murderous intentions in racist manifestos and photos posted online. Could it be any clearer what that flag now represents to most people? How complicated is that?
My family has been here in the American South since the 1700s, and my great-great-grandfather was a Confederate soldier. He was a printer. He printed currency. After the South lost the war and the United States emerged intact—thank God—he became a newspaperman.
The family business he started continues today, and now six generations of my American family have been dedicated to supporting the communities we serve and protecting the First Amendment of the United States of America through publishing and communication. We have a track record, so here's some free speech for those who want to keep the Confederate battle flag on the Statehouse grounds as some twisted symbol of Southern heritage: You're misguided and morally blind. Snap out of it.
The Southern pride, heritage and bravery I want to be associated with is that of the families of the victims who on Friday forgave the monster who murdered their loved ones in cold blood. The only grace and love that could have enabled such an action comes from a faith in God and humanity so deep that we should all pray for some small part of it in our own spirit. I'm praying for just a piece of that amazing grace for all South Carolinians this week as the victims are buried. This is South Carolina's time to show the world our true, united colors as a people. Start with the flag. Do the right thing." (Read more)

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