Saturday, June 20, 2015

The Confederate flag is racist. Full stop

By Richard Barry

Too often politics is about avoiding, at great cost to a candidate's personal integrity, saying anything that could alienate voters in a perceived universe of support. We have seen evidence of this all week as GOP presidential hopefuls twist themselves in knots to avoid unambiguously calling what happened in Charleston racism.

Sometimes it's funny, in a sad sort of way, to hear candidates say things they clearly don't believe because they know to say what they really think would be unhelpful to their electoral prospects.

I get that sense as I read South Carolina senator and Republican presidential candidate Lindsey Graham's response to a question about whether it might be "time to stop flying the Confederate flag.”
Graham said that it would be “fine” by him if South Carolinians wanted to “revisit that decision,” but insisted that “this is part of who we are. The flag represents — to some people — the Civil War, and that was the symbol of one side.”

He acknowledged, though, that “to others, it’s a racist symbol, and it’s been used by people in a racist way.” But, he added, “the problems we’re having in South Carolina and around the world aren’t because of a symbol, but because of what’s in people’s hearts.”

It should be clear to Senator Graham, and I suspect it is, that those who embrace the Confederate flag primarily as a symbol of their allegiance to the South, or state's rights, or whatever, while denying that it implies support for a racist past, are simply poorly informed. 

That's the kindest thing anyone ought to say about the matter and Graham, in his own politically sensitive way, seems to be halfway to admitting it.

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  • I've written about this a lot because it makes me really angry. It has been 150 years since the Civil War. The people who want to show "southern pride" are the same ones who complain about African Americans, "Aren't we all just Americans?!" they ask. Well sure, right up to the point where you want to fly the flag of your region's treason. In Southern Pride Rotting Our Republic, I wrote:

    "Martin Luther King Jr was born and raised in Georgia. Yet I've never seen anyone wearing a t-shirt with his image as an act of 'southern pride.' No. 'Southern pride' is always expressed with the Confederate flag, Stonewall Jackson, or Robert E Lee."

    I'm a First Amendment absolutist. I think they should wave that flag if that's what they want to do. But we should all be very clear that these people are not just bigots but traitors.

    See also: No More Confederate General Bases!

    By Blogger Frank Moraes, at 10:57 PM  

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