With the shooting of the nine Emanuel AME Church members in South Carolina, the Confederate flag has become, yet again, the staple of national controversy. With protestors and petitions asking for the flag to come down from the state house flag pole in South Carolina, the Confederate flag burns controversy with shocking details. None of which makes sense to the masses who still want the flag gone for good.
Americans Do Not Care Enough
According to a poll done by the Pew Research Center in 2011, over 50 percent of people did not care, one way or the other, about the flag’s existence and use. However, 30 percent of people reacted negatively at its sight. Protestors say that although Americans differ in opinion, the flag is offensive to enough Americans that the state house should have it removed. If for no other reason, as a sovereign act of solidarity for the nine lives taken by Dylann Roof earlier this year.
The Flag Honors Veterans
Many veterans and non-veterans alike say that the flag, though offensive to some, was never meant to offend. Instead, it represents a sense of honor for those who served during the war. Though this mindset falls on deaf ears as petition signers say that the flag is nothing more than a symbol of hatred and the past, the flag has long been used in funeral ceremonies to honor Confederate veterans and their families. The fact that the Confederate flag can be seen as honorable is among the top reasons, of the four listed here, as to why citizens say it continues to burn controversy across the nation.
The Flags Physical Fixture
Unlike other flagpoles that adorn the nation’s stars and stripes banner along with state flags across the country’s government buildings and monuments, the South Carolina State House technically can not lower the Confederate flag. The flag is literally fixed to the top of the pole with no pulley system to lower or bring down the flag. Those opposing the protestors efforts to have the flag removed say that lowering it will not make a difference anyway as the flag itself is not a symbol of Roof’s action against his nine victims. Neither are Roof’s actions in any way possible a reflection on the state of South Carolina.
Other States Approve the Flag
Other than South Carolina, four other states approve the flags existence and exposure. The four southern states are Florida, Louisiana, Georgia, and Mississippi. All five states have laws on the books that prohibit any desecration of the Confederate flag. These laws, however, go unenforced due to the fact the desecration of any American flag directly opposes the First Amendment right, according to a Supreme Court ruling. Despite these southern states, other states have not followed suit. California passed a bill in 2014 that actually prohibits any state government from displaying the Confederate flag. The bill also prohibits the sale of merchandise that carries the flags symbol anywhere on it.
The National Association of the Advancement of Colored People’s CEO, Cornell William Brooks, has been recorded as saying, “That symbol must come down! That symbol must be removed from our state capital!” The petition from the NAACP to have the flag removed from the South Carolina State House is one of many that the organization has led in past years. Many say that the flag represents a time in the south where African-Americans (as well as other minorities) were greatly persecuted. Violent deaths caused by bigotry, prejudice, and racism are among the leading recollections for people upon seeing the flag waved in their state’s face.
Personal preference aside, the nine recent deaths by the hands of young Dylann Roof (who apparently had a Confederate license plate cover) have activists, protestors, and citizens all in agreement that the waving of such a flag reads as statewide disrespect. If for no other reason, many South Carolina citizens are disgusted to see the flag still standing. Although the Confederate flag is sure to burn controversy past the four shocking details listed here, it does not seem to be the end of the fight to rid the flag altogether.
By Danyol Jaye
NY Times- Republicans Tread Carefully in Criticism of Confederate Flag
USA Today- Obama on Confederate flag: ‘Good point, Mitt’
PBS- 8 things you didn’t know about the Confederate flag
Feature Flag Courtesy of Travis’ Flickr Page- Creative Commons License