In the face of tragedy, Americans are always quick to react… Most of the time
It’s amazing how one single tragedy can get the ball rolling on ending 150 years of shameful confederate nostalgia. Flying the confederate flag is fast becoming politically incorrect and all it took was another massacre of black people.
The Confederate Flag has come to represent America’s racist, hateful and treasonous past for many Americans. It may be just a symbol, but it’s a flag that has stood in the way of progress and reconciliation for a century and a half.
It is impossible to move forward as a country when we cling to an unjust past. How is an African American supposed to feel equal when a symbol of their oppression is dotted throughout the towns in which they commute? Imagine a Jewish man being forced to drive by a swastika every day on the way to work.
Despite the immense tragedy in South Carolina, it’s great to see that the hateful actions of someone who intend to start a race war is actually having the opposite effect. Since white supremacist, Dylann Roof, shot and killed nine people in a historic black church last week, public outcry with the help of social media have been the driving force behind much needed change in the south.
It started with South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley on Monday who called for the Confederate flag to be removed from the Captiol grounds. She fell short of condemning the private use of the flag but it was still a giant leap forward.
Since Haley’s speech:
- Major retail companies have banned the sale of confederate flags and products including Wal-Mart, eBay, Sears, Target, Etsy and Amazon.
- Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe has ordered the Confederate flag removed from Virginia state license plates.
- More than 2,500 Texas students at UT Austin have called on the school’s president, Greg Fenves, to remove the statue of Confederate president Jefferson Davis from the campus.
- In Tennessee, state Democrats are calling for officials to remove a bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest from the Statehouse grounds. Forrest was a Confederate general and an early leader of the Ku Klux Klan.
- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called on his home state of Kentucky to consider moving its statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis from the state legislature to a Kentucky history museum.
- Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley ordered the four Confederate flags on the state Capitol grounds in Montgomery to be taken down Yesterday morning
The list goes on and gets longer every day. It’s astonishing, something I never thought I’d see in my lifetime. American’s are finally shedding the symbols of their violent past. So why can’t they shed the instruments which carried it out?
I understand that doing away with a racist symbol is not the same as ridding ourselves of the devices we believe to be for our own protection (even though they aren’t.) But guns are part of the problem in America’s culture of racism and fear. I wonder what the backlash will be from white supremacists for taking down the flags. Things might get ugly.
Regardless, following the lack of action after Sandy Hook, I’m not surprised the conversation isn’t centered on guns, but on race, which isn’t altogether a bad thing. Still, when South Carolina State Rep. Bill Chumley tells CNN that he thinks the nine victims of the church shooting in Charleston, “waited their turn to be shot” because of the lack of access to guns, my blood boils.
I don’t mean to lessen the role racism played in the Charleston massacre, but as important as purging ourselves of 150 year old symbols of hate and violence is, it’s still second fiddle to the instruments of violence that leave us dead. It may have been better to have those 9 souls alive, even if they had to continue to see that awful flag.