How unfortunate it is that it takes a horrible, racist act of terror to once again revive the debate about the Confederate flag flying on Statehouse grounds.
While I do not subscribe to the thinking that its flight on a prominently-positioned Confederate monument, along with other external influences, made Roof commit his dastardly deed, this historic symbol of heritage and hate, depending upon one's perspective, does not represent all the people of South Carolina and should not fly in the face of all who inadvertently pass by on a major thoroughfare of our capital city - on tax-supported property whose primary purpose is the making of South Carolina law, law which applies to all of us.
The appropriate place for the Confederate battle flag is in a museum.
It should never be flown as a representation of the people of South Carolina or in a state-sponsored memory of those who fought for its cause. Individuals, of course, have the right to display or fly it on their own personal property.
In the early 20th century, Charles Sheldon asked the question: “What would Jesus do?”
Although Robert E. Lee, the leader of the Confederate army, was certainly not divine, his stature and prominent influence during and after the Civil War begs the question, “What would Lee do?”
Upon surrender, Lee directed that the flag be retired.
He spent the remainder of his days working for unity in our nation and promotion of only one flag, Old Glory.
The Confederate flag will continue to be a symbol of heritage and hate, as a matter of fact. One meaning it had, however, which is beyond debate, is that it represented separation. We cannot be a united nation and a separated nation at the same time. Lee recognized this.
I suggest we wear bracelets with the Confederate flag displayed, over which “WWLD?” would be clearly visible.
I believe Lee would advise us to come together and work to unify a heavily divided nation. Peace should be our ultimate goal. Understanding is a road to that peace. Too many of us have taken the wrong road.
Now is the time for Republicans and Democrats to work together and do the right thing. This should not be a partisan issue. Let us insist that our legislators remove the cloth flag that has no position of sovereignty or jurisdiction over any of us in South Carolina from any position of prominence on tax-supported property.
Of course, we should not forget our history. As Santayana stated, “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
The Confederate battle flag, along with other Confederate flags, should be prominently displayed in our museums and flown in Civil War reenactments. Memorials, with the flag in relief or artistic representation, positioned in appropriate places, even on tax-supported properties such as the Statehouse grounds, are important reminders of our past and those who contributed to it.
Erasing our history, however stained it might be, would be a terrible tragedy. Removing monuments and renaming buildings, streets, and other public objects which are dedicated to those who were once esteemed should generally be avoided.
We must avoid this slippery slope into historical oblivion.
Removing the Confederate flag from Statehouse grounds should not be viewed as a first step down a slippery slope. It is simply the right thing to do.
The United States and South Carolina flags represent all of us. These are the flags of sovereignty and which have jurisdiction over us.
The writer lives in Surfside Beach.