South Carolina has come under fire for continuing to fly the Confederate battle flag over its statehouse, making it the last Southern state to fly the Stars and Bars. Defenders of the flag say it represents the state’s heritage, while opponents argue that it is South Carolina’s very heritage they are fighting.
South Carolina’s heritage includes secession from the Union in 1861, the first southern state to do so, which began the single greatest threat to the welfare and stability of the U.S. in its history. The Confederacy entered into America’s bloodiest war largely in defense of the institution of slavery while under the auspices of equal representation in Congress.
After its defeat, the South rose again and continued to oppress newly freed blacks – denying them voting rights and other Constitutional rights, including the right to serve on juries. By carrying out gruesome lynchings, the Ku Klux Klan spread terror among Southern blacks who dared to voice their rights. Jim Crow laws had effectively subjugated blacks in the South.
In 1962, the Confederate battle flag was first flown over the South Carolina statehouse as a symbolic gesture representing the state’s fight against federally ordered desegregation and civil rights. Then, the southern battle cry was state’s rights.
Undoubtedly, individuals hold the right to display the Confederate battle flag on their private property. And even publicly financed museums should rightfully display the flag as an article of historical value.
But no federal or state government should have the right to fly a flag that is offensive as a symbol of racial oppression. South Carolina should show respect for both its black population and the United States – lower the Confederate battle flag once and for all.