It took nine innocent lives and 154 years to do so, but the Confederate flag that once flown proudly over South Carolina is at the center of debate. The irony of the fracas is that it’s been started by the man who murdered to defend what the flag represents.
After a widespread public outcry, the South Carolina House of Representatives voted on Tuesday to debate whether or not Confederate flag that hangs on the State Capitol’s campus should come down. Meanwhile, retailers like Walmart, Sears, eBay and Amazon decided to cease sales of the confederate flag after they rose over 2,000 percent.
“It’s time for South Carolina to get past its history,” said J. Elliott Summey, president of the Charleston County Council. “History belongs in a place. It belongs in a museum, not on sovereign ground.”
Conservatives predictability deflected the debate about the fate of the flag by saying it’s ultimately the state’s decision. Defenders of the flag argue that it’s a symbol of southern pride and they’re entitled to do so in a free country. The counterargument sees that latter point as a contradiction. The southern slave states’ secession in 1860 not only led to the Civil War, but also split apart that free nation. The leaders of the Confederacy didn’t believe in freedom for all either; they were determine to go on with slavery being the center of its economy.
In 2015, critics believe that the confederate flag isn’t separated from that severe racism — it’s part of the symbol’s legacy. It’s the same ideals that led to the mass murder at Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church and continue to influence millions living in America. It’s what Barack Obama was referring to in Marc Maron’s WTF podcast.
“Racism, we are not cured of it. And it’s not just a matter of it not being polite to say nigger in public,” Obama said. “That’s not the measure of whether racism still exists or not. It’s not just a matter of overt discrimination. Societies don’t, overnight, completely erase everything that happened 200 to 300 years prior.”