The recent shooting at the Emanuel AME church in Charleston, South Carolina has renewed the focus on the fact that the Confederate flag flies in a place of honor on the grounds of the capitol there.
In a slight improvement over the days up through the year 2000 when it flew directly above the capitol building, it has been moved to the side and flies over a monument to the Confederate soldiers in the Civil War, which, as we all know, was begun by South Carolina's secession from the United States over their fears that President Lincoln and the Republican controlled Congress were about to do away with slavery. The Confederate flag, thus positioned, commemorates and honors the soldiers who fought in the bloodiest, costliest and most destructive war this country has ever seen on its home territory. And they fought against Americans. And they fought to preserve slavery. And 700,000 Americans died. The flag may not be lowered (it isn't even on a pulley system) altered or taken down unless the General Assembly of South Carolina votes a 2/3rds majority on the third time the initiative is introduced. (see a recent Washington Post article for more about this.) So the state government clearly doesn't want it taken down. And recent comments by the white members of the political elite in South Carolina (and beyond: see Charlie Baker's recent comments in Massachusetts, which he subsequently apologized for after realizing that his actual opinions weren't palatable to other human beings...) make it clear that they are in no rush to do anything about this.
When pressed, many respond with the statement that the Confederate flag represents "Southern Heritage," and that's why it should be flown, worn as tattoos, integrated into state flags, placed on bumper stickers, mugs, and who knows what all else.
So Southern Heritage represents:
1) open rebellion against the United States of America and the subsequent death of almost one million people;
2) a repressive system of violence and exploitation against nearly four million human beings kidnapped from their homes and sold as chattel because of their skin color;
3) a secondary system of oppression that forced human beings of African descent into social, political and economic poverty, subject to lynchings, rape, terror and outright murder;
4) a tertiary system that allows whites in this country to continue to discriminate against other human beings of African descent to such an extent that they are shot arbitrarily by police, prevented from attaining mortgages, denied jobs, denied access to education and denied the right to vote by Republican controlled state legislatures and the US Supreme Court.
It appears that those nine human beings, those nine people with lives, dreams, hopes, families, and fears, who went to church to pray weren't killed by the Confederate flag; they were killed by what it represents.
Be proud, people of South Carolina. Be really, really proud.
Take that flag down!