Yesterday, the South Carolina state legislature decided to remove the Confederate flag. Debate started on the morning of July 6.
Though Arkansas, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, and Tennessee all have Confederate imagery in their flags, North Carolina has been in focus lately. South Carolina is where much of this flag debate started, because of the tragic mass shooting at a Charleston church. The shooting was clearly racially motivated. Activists pointed out the incongruencies that South Carolina condemned this massacre but still flew the flag that is so often intertwined with slavery.
The battle to remove the Confederate flag was a difficult one. Before the debates, Governor Nikki Haley remarked, “I don’t think this is going to be easy. I don’t think that it’s going to be painless. But, I do think that it will be respectful and that it will move swiftly.”
The flag has many activists on both sides. Bree Newsome and James Tyson were arrested for climbing the flagpole and taking the Confederate flag down. The Ku Klux Klan held a rally in support of keeping the flag.
To many people, the Confederate flag is a symbol of their southern heritage. It’s clearly within one’s constitutional rights to have a flag. But a state, or government, cannot wave a Confederate flag. The Confederate flag was created for a purpose we now find reprehensible: maintaining slavery. Though the American flag is often used by racist organizations (see http://politicsoutdoors.com/2015/03/11/more-flags/ ), the American flag was not created explicitly for racism. On the other hand, the Confederate flag will always have a history deeply intertwined with racism and slavery.
This reasoning is similar to the majority opinion of the Supreme Court, in the case Walker v. Sons of Confederate Veterans. The defendants felt that Texas was limiting their free speech right by rejecting a Confederate flag license plate. In his majority opinion, Justice Stephen G. Breyer wrote that, “just as Texas cannot require SCV to convey the State’s ideological message, SCV cannot force Texas to include a Confederate battle flag on its specialty license plates.”