Undoubtedly this is a trying time for the people of South Carolina, given the circumstances concerning the Emanuel A.M.E. Church tragedy, and inflamed by the recent movement to eradicate the Confederate Battle Flag.
The burden of removing the flag has been placed upon the shoulders of our legislators, who will by all probability convene in special session in the coming weeks to discuss the fate of that tarnished emblem.
The bandwagon which supports the irrational blotting out of history for the sake of quelling offensiveness is one manned in part by our Honorable Governor, numerous state and local leaders, the media, and even Republican presidential hopefuls. It is understandable that any opposition to such a force would be met with disdain.
This debate was reignited prematurely and inappropriately. Immediately following the tragedy in Charleston, the people of that city and of South Carolina instated, without any outside interference, a sense of solidarity for the victims and their families. This is quite refreshing and well-needed in an age of seemingly frequent racial violence and retaliation. However, the unity and compassion we saw in Charleston were quickly overwritten by the media for the timeless stories of division and unrest.
The compromise the legislature made in 2000 which moved the battle flag to its current location resulted in a fair and equal commemoration of South Carolina heritage and history…or so we thought. Given the recent politicizing of instances of racial violence across the nation, a tragedy directly charged by race in a southern state was all the left needed to finish the business of removing the banner. The Confederate Battle Flag, the scapegoat, the inspiration of it all, would be finished. States would indict it along with the alleged murderer, and its image would be banished from production and commerce.
That is not to suggest that this horrific tragedy was planned by the media, but to insinuate that the Battle Flag inspired and contributed to the deaths of the Emanuel nine is ridiculous. Using these tragedies for the advancement of a political agenda is despicable, and minimizes the lives of the victims to tools for the act.
The Confederacy is an intricate part of the history of our State and all her people, whether the people choose to accept it or not. It has contributed in many ways to where our State is today, and it should not be silenced and overwritten for modern sentiments. The flag is not the enemy. The enemy is anyone who uses that flag to divide our people, and that should not make the flag guilty by association.
I believe this movement does nothing more than take advantage of a tragedy for political gain, and it is premature and powerfully fueled. I simply ask you to consider the courageous defense of an American emblem, for the Battle Flag is nothing less than that. If this line of defense finds finds no avail, seek a compromise that would allow our heritage to be preserved. The people of South Carolina deserve much more than this.
James Salter lives in Prosperity.