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Monday, April 6, 2020

OPINION: The Confederacy is dying, and it’s about time

In the wake of the racially motivated mass shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston, South Carolina, there has been a mass call-to-action to remove the Confederate battle flag from the capitol buildings in southern states.

For those of you living under a rock, here’s a brief history of the Confederate flag. The Confederate flag that is most commonly seen and referred to when discussing the confederacy isn’t the original Confederate flag. The original flag, titled “Stars and Bars,” was approved in 1861 and very closely resembled the Union flag. Like the Union flag, the original Confederate flag had a dark blue area in the upper left corner, but only three red, white and blue stripes. The flag had seven stars that represented the states that wanted to succeed: South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Georgia, Texas, Louisiana and Alabama.

The commonly seen Confederate battle flag, also known as the Rebel Flag, Dixie Flag or Southern Cross, is a variation of this flag that was later adopted and used in battle as the flag of the army of Northern Virginia in 1861 led by Gen. Robert E. Lee.

Now for those of us who live outside of the American South, the primary argument against the use of this flag is fairly one-sided: Its use is wrong because it represents the racist ideology of the seven southern states that wanted to secede from the Union during the civil war.

However, many Confederate flag supporters will make the argument that the flag represents their southern pride and heritage, while also attempting to make the argument that the flag has nothing to do with racism. The idea that the flag represents some sort of southern pride likely stems from when South Carolina lawmakers raised the battle flag over the statehouse in 1961 to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the civil war, as well as its use in popular culture such as the Beverly Hillbillies and The Dukes of Hazzard.

In the same way as the swastika or gammadion cross is seen in culture today as a Nazi symbol instead of a sacred Indian religious symbol, the Confederate battle flag also carries a stigma that has been threatening its relevance in society for years.

Whichever argument you choose to agree with, this much is certain: It’s about time the Confederate battle flag is being removed from popular culture. It no longer carries any relevance in society due to the racial stigma and ideologies that it represents.

While some southern states have removed the flag in response to the shooting in Charleston, South Carolina itself has yet to do so. If the government of this state really wants to separate itself from the racist ideology that led to nine African-Americans being gunned down in their place of worship, it should follow the lead of neighboring states and take down this symbol of racial oppression for good.

The editorial board is composed of Miles Barnes, Stephanie Villiers and Alex Bartick.

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