My thoughts are scattered as I read the multiple stories calling to remove the confederate flag from public places and retail stores. I’ve seen more chatter surrounding the confederate flag debate than the shooter or his 9 victims combined in the last 24-hours.
Rather than writing a novel on the topic here are three quick thoughts:
- Governor Nikki Haley did the right thing calling for the flag to be taken down in South Carolina this week. Everyone is entitled to their opinions about the symbolism of the flag but right now what we need is solidarity and to not pour fuel on the raging fire of racial tensions nationally. I ordinarily wouldn’t support this type of bowing to pubic pressure but this time it’s appropriate. Before it gets out of hand though let’s not kid ourselves that’s what’s happening; the argument against the flag is not an argument based on facts or a historical truth it is purely based on feelings but if ever there were a time to give a little this may be it.
- The flag debate and the political posturing that has come from it is a distraction from the real issues: racism and racial bias. These are real the issues that are keeping our nation from moving forward not the flag. The flag just gives people a tangible target. Seeing the flag removed from state capitols and taken off store shelves makes people feel like they’ve won a victory but the fact is we are no closer to preventing another tragic shooting without it there than we were with it flying and we are no closer to understanding what motivated the horrific shooting.
- All of the real issues and questions we need to address aren’t solved by removing flags. Some of those questions are: Was this incident and are future ones preventable? How do we recognize and respond to threats? How do we address the growing racial divide in our country and the economic and social impacts they have?
This issue is evolving and it seems the strength of the movement against not just the flags but all historic references the confederacy is growing. It will be interesting to see how this plays out and more importantly how we get back to a conversation about the issues that matter.