Being a native southerner I have seen this symbol around most all of my life. My home state changed its flag several times in an effort to remove the confederate battle emblem, and each time followed a firestorm of controversy. There are organized groups aiming to keep this symbolism at the forefront of southern culture. They also pressured the SC governor to keep the flag flying - if not on the capitol dome, then on the grounds as "compromise."
Those who have not experienced Jim Crow or widespread discrimination, marginalization and violence have difficulty identifying with what blacks have continually had to endure. They try to minimize it or keep it from the forefront. In light of recent events, the flag issue comes up yet again. I am glad that it has created dialog about the big picture - institutional and militant racism.
Though I agree that even if the flag is removed, it alone won't do much to change deeply ingrained racist sentiment and institutional racism.
Nazi symbols have been outlawed in Germany, but there are still organizations of (Neo-?) Nazis and like-minded individuals who operate under a different name. The ideas persist despite ridding their society of their symbols.
The fact these attitudes persist despite years of progress shows that dislodging these ideas and teaching better ones that inculcate respect, dignity and equality for all peoples will be an arduous task.
I have to be careful my words here, as there are many White Americans who feel, that while seeing the 'battle flag' of the confederacy as innocuous, it's harmless as well when brandished as a symbol of murderous, bloody hate. A 'hatred' that is as old as our nation (remembering that S.C. was the last state to sign on to the Declaration, holding out until anti-slavery mandates & language were removed - moving back the date of declared independence from July 2nd to July 4th). This legacy is as childish & irrational then as now, as the time between the shameful act last month, til now, but also is as dangerous to ALL Americans - regardless of color, race, culture or gender, we must remember. Excuses will be made of course, of how the flag doesn't do the harm, but the people 'brandishing' it, but the damage was done 149 years ago, just as occurred 49 years ago, when in both instances, Americans of conscience & good will, rejected using both moments as unifying (the end of the Civil War & the nations' advances during the Human Rights movement of the 1960's) events to end the stain & shame of racism once & for all. So here we are again, listening to those trying to AGAIN delay progress into modernity, w/apologies for racist acts, when we know full well it's more than 'simple' racism, touching on the marginalization of a woman-governors authority, rejection of an entire community/nations' desire to unify & heal & even embrace the 'common good,' in doing what is best in honoring the virtues of which the foundation of our Democracy are built. On-line activism is a precarious hi-wire act, allowing those meaing harm to shout 'FIRE' in the midst of our 'public square' of debate, in order to end dialogue completely! However, we must remind ourselves that this Republic wasn't founded on cowardice & this moment shouldn't be remembered as another retreat, just b/c of those American's too short-sighted, immature or just afraid of what the panorama of a unified, diverse & cooperative America looks like. They too should have their say, but should be reminded that 'theirs' is not the only opinion - or even a majority (in or outside of S.C.) opinion in this debate & accept it as inevitably what our nations principles & virtues meant US to become... inevitably...
That is a very well composed and presented comment on the whole, big picture issue. So is rusticus21's comment below.
We have to remove the symbol of racism, plantationism, elitism, arrogance, empty righteousness, reactionary nonsense, etc., to see the ugly cancer, with all its warts, bleeding ulcers, stupidities, arrogant know-nothingism, etc., below/behind that symbol.
Until we remove the symbol, we cannot collectively see all that ugly, malignant crap behind it.
Thank you for your brilliant, measured, and compelling thoughts.
We must ignore the distractors who keep insisting upon changing the subject.
The state decision to take the flag down wasn't made, there were just some politicians posturing that they supported taking it down, but claiming they were powerless to do so without a 2/3 majority vote of the state legislature. They put the flag back up an hour after Bree Newsome took it down. Democracy Now! reports today that the state senate voted 37 to 3 to take it down, which advances it, but it still requires another vote.