Washington column for July 16

The Confederate flag in our times

Usually this column reports on all the comings and goings, doings and happenings in and around the town of Washington. Well, much of the talk this past week in the town and the county has been about the sudden controversy over the Confederate flag, prompting these very personal thoughts of mine.

A question I ask everyone: What is our world coming too?

The Bible, in Isaiah 46:5, says: “To whom will ye liken me, and make me equal, and compare me, that we may be alike?”

Since the massacre of nine worshipers at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, by a man who was seen espousing the Confederate flag, many local and state governments have made efforts to remove Confederate symbolism from public areas. The most notable was the removal of the flag from the South Carolina capitol last week, where it had been flying for 54 years, initially put up as a symbol of the state’s objection to the Civil Rights Movement. I’m sorry, but this whole ideal of the Confederate flag has got my knickers in a twist.

Let me start out with, I am deeply sorry about what happened in that church. My heart goes out to the family and friends of the victims who lost their lives in this tragic massacre.

The Confederate flag today finds itself in the center of much controversy. Racism is being projected onto the Confederate flag, which is in return continuing the division among us. Just because one racist person supported the Confederate flag, doesn’t mean every person who supports it is a racist.

First and foremost, the Confederate flag was never a national flag representing the South, it was a battle flag flown by several armies, in Virginia and elsewhere, by men who fought and died. To me that makes a big difference. Even if it had been a national flag for the South, understand that the Civil War wasn’t just over slavery; while it was the reason slavery ended, slavery was just an excuse for the war. The North fought the war over money, the same reason we fight half our wars today.

Many say the flag is a symbol of hate because it was flown over slave ships. In my eyes, that is a false conclusion. The U.S. flag flew over a slave nation for over 85 years. I’m not saying this to put down the American flag because I love it and I fly Old Glory every day with pride and honor for those who gave their lives for us. I’m simply saying that, if the Confederate flag should be removed, why not the American flag?

The North tolerated slavery and supported it as a source of labor. Many in the North made vast fortunes on slavery and its commodities, especially cotton. It wasn’t until the South decided to leave the Union that the North objected — because the United States could not survive without the Southern money. And even before the Civil War, many Southerners were working to free the slaves.

I for one don’t fly this flag but for someone to resort to name-calling because they disagree with someone is pretty low. If anyone choose to fly this flag, it is their right to do so as is your right to call others ignorant for doing it. Does either of those make anyone any better? I think not.

South Carolina’s governor used nine pens last week to sign a law that will remove the Confederate battle flag from the State House grounds. Each pen, Gov. Nikki Haley said, will go to the families of the nine victims. By showing forgiveness after the shooting, she said, they caused the change of heart that led to passage of the history-making bill. The flag was taken down within 24 hours of her signing the bill and moved to the state’s Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum for display.

My question is what about the men and women who lost their lives and fought in the war in the past and present. Would the congress sign a law that would remove the American flag?

The Confederate flag to me means home, hard work, family heritage and good old Southern pride in where they are from. The same goes for the American flag.

Fly it proudly!

As a nation, it would be wise to put this issue behind us, work together as a community and move forward to better days.

Mohandas K. Gandhi once said: “Anger and intolerance are the enemies of correct understanding.”