America must come to terms with symbols of racism that threaten social progress and people’s lives.
SOUTH Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley made the right decision by calling for taking down the Confederate battle flag that flies near its state Capitol building. The South Carolina Legislature should follow her lead to remove it.
Haley’s decision, a reversal for a governor who was disappointingly indifferent to the flag’s presence earlier in her term, followed the brutal shooting of nine parishioners at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C.
Visibly shaken on the day of last week’s shooting, Haley gathered other South Carolina leaders — state and federal, white and black, Republican and Democrat — on Monday to make her plea to the Legislature. Their demands joined many others that erupted after the shooting to “take down the flag.”
“That flag, while an integral part of our past, does not represent the future of our great state,” Haley said Monday.
The Confederate flag’s symbolism could no longer be dismissed as a benign vestige of history after photos on social media of the shooter came to light — they depicted him brandishing the flag as a symbol of white supremacy.
In the past, Haley defended the flag, stating, “I can honestly say I have not had not one conversation with a single CEO about the Confederate flag.”
The CEOs are speaking, finally. Retailers such as eBay, Amazon.com and Wal-Mart announced bans of Confederate flag merchandise.
Our nation should be able to honor the past without letting history propel hate and violence. This can only happen after acknowledging racism and mustering the courage to confront it.
America needs to heal from the massacre of nine people, but its leaders must also stop dismissing the symbols of racism and hate that persist today.