Across the Universe: Confederate flag a symbol of hatred, not one of legacy
June 24, 2015
TAHOE-TRUCKEE, Calif. — It's unfortunate that a needed change sometimes can only occur — or, even be discussed — when tragedy strikes.
Like everyone (I hope), I was disgusted to read about the shooting deaths last Wednesday, June 17, of nine black men and women inside the 199-year-old Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C.
Considering the massacre was apparently carried out by a white man, it makes the incident that much more notable and discussion-worthy as this country continues to struggle with its dark history of owning slaves and deplorable promotion of Jim Crow laws, among other race-fueled actions.
While the alleged culprit, 21-year-old Dylann Roof, is innocent until proven guilty — per our country's laws — I've been able to develop a solid opinion based on credible news articles and investigation details that he committed the crimes in a premeditated manner, and with racial motivations.
As the legal proceedings into his hopefully successful prosecution begin to heat up, so too have urges from politicians and public figures for South Carolina to finally, for once, get rid of the Confederate battle flag at the State House, and for it and other southern states to rid the symbol from flags and everywhere else it may be displayed.
While I'm glad the push against such a decades-old "tradition" is intensifying (even Tuesday, it was announced major retailers such as Walmart, Amazon, Sears and eBay would stop selling merchandise that featured the Confederate symbol), I find it frustrating that it had to come after such a heartbreaking tragedy.
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I also find it frustrating and very hard to side with those who argue the Confederate symbol is a cherished piece of this nation's history that should be preserved forever.
Much like my disdain at the still-head-shaking use of "Redskins" to label Washington, D.C.'s pro football team, I see the Confederate symbol as one of hatred and fear, one that reminds us of how people still may side with slavery.
The only thing that symbol is preserving is a severely tainted legacy, one that continues to spread anger and encourage violence.
As a colleague of mine and I discussed the other day, continuing to take pride in that symbol is, in my opinion, in line with those who still believe displaying the Nazi symbol is a needed way to bask in Germany's historic glory.
Germany's history can't change, but I feel its legacy should begin with the fall of the Berlin Wall.
In America, however unfortunate the context, we should now write our next chapter, too.
Kevin MacMillan is managing editor of the Sierra Sun. He may be reached for comment at firstname.lastname@example.org.