The Republican governor of the State of South Carolina, Nikki Haley, said that she wants the Confederate flag removed from the grounds of the Capitol yesterday. Haley declared, ″That flag, while an integral part of the past, does not represent the future of our great state.″ Flanked by politicians from both major parties, as well as other community leaders, Gov. Haley acknowledged that many see the Confederate flag as a symbol of hate. She defended its use in historic sites and memorials, but wants the state legislature to vote on removing it altogether from the Capitol grounds. Some 15 years ago, a similar move and vote resulted in ending the flag being flown from the top of the Statehouse building to its current location on a separate pole in front of the building.
This action on Monday follows the Charleston church shooting where nine African-Americans were killed by Dylann Roof, who has confessed to the murders. Roof also confessed that his motivation for committing this act of terror was due to racism. What has touched off this latest controversy over the Confederate flag was pictures of Roof with one.
The Confederate flag often becomes a political issue during election cycles. So given the shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church last week, and that we have entered the presidential election season, focus on the flag issue was bound to come up. Much of the debate boils down to the fundamental question of whether you view the Confederate flag as a symbol of slavery or that of State′s rights? Which is pretty much the classic debate as to why the American Civil War, or the War between the States, was fought?
If you′re a Yankee, then you′re inclined to say slavery was the primary issue. If your heart lies in Dixie, then State′s rights was the reason.
There is no doubt that slavery was a major issue. However, most of those who fought for the South were not slave owners. In fact, one item usually left out of ′Yankee′ history books is that there were Black military units who fought for the Confederacy, and some were formed well before the Union created any. Louisiana had a mixed-race unit early in 1861. The first monuments erected to Black soldiers in the United States were those of such Confederate fighters in the South.
State′s rights and economic issues were a major factor in why the war began. But much of it comes down to a very simple reason of reaction to intrusion. Most of those who fought for the Confederacy were simply angry about Northerners invading them and trying to tell them how to live their lives. As hostilities began, even Lincoln was ready to negotiate and allow slavery to continue, so long as the Southern states kept paying their taxes and tariffs to Washington. The fight against slavery did not become an ′official′ cause for the Union Army until well into 1863.
South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley will not face much opposition to removing the Confederate flag from the Capitol grounds. There will be some from various groups whom work to keep history alive. But as we see, there are different flavors of history. Most Americans are aware of only the vanilla version of ′Yankee′ history as the Union won the war. If we are to believe Dylann Root from his rants of his website, what sparked his racism was learning how manipulated the news media, education system, etc, are in giving only one version. A Liberal-Progressive version. So maybe if we do not want such acts repeated, instead on focusing on guns or flags, we should be looking at how information is being played with.