The recent murderous rampage in Charleston, South Carolina by yet another misguided and foolish person saddens and sickens me. How many more of these monstrous acts of violence must we endure before our leaders show the courage necessary to end this scourge? Promises were made after the Newtown massacre almost three years ago and they still remain only promises. People who should never have a gun can still get them. And now, in the wake of this latest slaughter, people seem to be more interested in symbols than the weapon that killed nine innocent people in a historic black church in Charleston. Many seem to believe that this madness will stop if we finally ban the display of the Confederate battle flag. I feel they are somehow missing the point.
I agree with those who think the flag should be taken down . . . from where it flies on the grounds of the South Carolina capitol in Columbia and elsewhere. Those who tell you that it is a symbol of “heritage and not hate” are kidding themselves. Just take a look at the above photograph. Who wants to claim that as their heritage? Lindsey Graham, who represents South Carolina in the United States Senate, and who almost three weeks ago announced his candidacy for President of the United States, would have us believe that the Confederate battle flag (different from the national flag of the Confederacy) is a "part of who we are." Really? It is certainly not a part of who I am. And I would go so far as to suggest that it has nothing to do with anyone alive today regardless of where they were born or live. A part of who we are as Americans? Does this mean that modern Germans should fly the Nazi banner from their homes and government buildings because it is a part of who they are? I don’t think so. Today one often sees the Confederate flag flying alongside the Nazi banner at Klan rallies and other white supremacist gatherings. The Confederate battle flag, regardless of what it represented a century and a half ago, has become inflammatory while representing an unfortunate chapter in this nation's history, one that could possibly have been avoided if our Founding Fathers had done the right thing when they had the chance.
Taking this symbol down will not end the racism it has long represented nor will it stop the endless and senseless gun violence that plagues this nation. These problems are far too complex, and our leaders appear hesitant to address them in any sensible way. Let's keep our eye on the ball, folks! It is high time we start considering the very real problems we will continue to face as long as nobody has the courage to act. We need to start somewhere. Taking down that flag is only the first small step on the long road to doing what is necessary and right.
Symbolism only goes so far, but yes, it is time to take that flag down. A first step, a small step, a symbolic step. But we can’t stop there! We need to roll up our sleeves and get to work doing what needs to be done. And soon. No more talking about it. It’s time to act. And if our leaders are not willing to do what we elected them to do, for whatever reason, then they need to step aside and get out of the way of those who can and will.
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