As John has noted, the Confederate battle flag is under fire in South Carolina. Sen. Lindsey Graham, Sen. Tim Scott, and Gov. Nikki Haley — Republicans all — have called for it to be removed from the state capitol grounds in Columbia, South Carolina.
I agree that it’s time to take the flag down. Not because its presence caused Dylann Roof to kill blacks. It didn’t. Not because removing the flag will prevent future racist slayings. It won’t.
The flag should be removed because it stands for two horrible ideas: (1) fighting to preserve slavery and (2) disunion.
This isn’t to deny that many honorable men fought bravely and died for the Confederacy. It’s understandable, and not inherently racist or unpatriotic, that many white southerners still want to honor their memory.
Removing the flag from the capitol grounds wouldn’t prevent this. It would simply mean that the State of South Carolina, which has honored the Confederacy for a century and a half, will no longer do so — at least not through the public display of a flag that legitimately offends so many of its citizens.
Absent a violation of federal law, I’m not a fan of outsiders telling a state how to behave. The good news from South Carolina is that the state’s three leading politicians (all Republicans) — a white, an Asian American, and an African-American — are in accord that removing the flag from the capitol grounds is an idea whose time has come.
UPDATE: According to the Washington Post, the Confederate flag came back to the South Carolina capitol grounds in 1961 as a response to the burgeoning civil rights movement. That’s another good reason for removing it.
Flag or no flag, South Carolina has, as I say, been honoring the Confederacy for a century and a half.