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Past and Present

Taking Down The Confederate Flag

eyeliam / Flickr / Creative Commons


The aftermath of the recent church massacre in Charleston, S.C., has featured renewed discussion concerning the appropriateness of publicly displaying the Confederate flag.

From a political standpoint, it is astonishing that this is considered a debatable issue. The Confederate flag is an overt symbol of treason and insurrection. Moreover, from a historical standpoint, the continued visibility of the “Stars and Bars” suggests that, while the military conflict known as the Civil War ended 150 years ago, the Confederate mindset continued.

This mindset subsequently contributed to such things as the formation of the KKK, the institution of American apartheid (also known as Jim Crow racial segregation), and massive resistance to the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision.

It also bears noting that the Confederate States of America’s lingering reverberations have long been condoned by forces outside of Dixie. For instance, at the end of Reconstruction, many Northern white politicians and citizens conveniently looked the other way when ex-slaveholders retook control of Southern state governments and instituted new, modified, forms of black oppression. Later, during the early-to-mid-20th century, Congress’ failure to pass an anti-lynching bill represented a national disgrace.

On a positive note, South Carolina’s well publicized removal of the Confederate flag from its state capitol on July 10 represents an important step to help end the cycle of violence and discord associated with this controversial iconic symbol.