Commentary: Southern Pride Should Find a New Symbol

To some, the Confederate flag is a proud symbol of southern pride. To others, it is a disgraceful symbol of slavery.

It is hard to view it with a patriotic eye. Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia all committed treason in 1861 by seceding from the USA. The primary reason was “state’s rights”. That was a cute code name for the preservation of the right to own human beings as one would own livestock.  Hundreds of thousands of Americans died during that brutal conflict known as the Civil War.

Ugly as it was, the Civil War and slavery (the peculiar institution) are indelible parts of American history. The Civil War has been followed by a century of segregation, laws prohibiting interracial marriages, racially motivated violence (including murder) and until I was college, the inability of the Southeast Conference to find persons of color with adequate athletic ability to play football or basketball at the NCAA level. No such athletes in Alabama?  The Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965, 100 years after the Civil War ended.

Now 150 years after the Civil War ended, it took an atrocity in Charleston to convince the government of South Carolina to consider taking down the Confederate flag. Many in the south will continue as individuals to still fly the stars and bars. That is their individual right of free speech. The right to remain boorish is as American as apple pie.

Free speech isn’t always pretty. Neither was slavery. Neither was government condoned classification of persons as second class citizens because of the color of their skin. Taking down the flag symbolic of treason and slavery won’t end bias. Nor will it take away dangerous weapons from nut jobs. That said, why should America celebrate treason? Where those really the good old days?

Jim Maxson

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