Tag Archives: confederate flag

City Council Passes Gun Ban On S.C. State Capitol Grounds

S.C. Governor Nikki Haley signed a bill to remove the Confederate battle flag off of State Capitol grounds on Thursday. Hours after Gov. Haley signed the bill, the Columbia City Council passed an ordinance temporarily banning weapons within a 250-foot perimeter surrounding the South Carolina State House grounds in an emergency meeting.

As reported previously by Truth In Media, a fight broke out during a protest at the State capitol grounds last week, but no threats have been made since then. So why is there a temporary ban?

According to the Free-Times.com, Columbia Police Chief Skip Holbrook said the emergency ordinance is not in response to any information or intelligence specifically in connection with Friday’s flag removal ceremony.

“No specific intelligence or information, we are just exercising prudence and caution,” Holbrook says. “Our goal is to have peaceful, lawful assembly. This helps us facilitate and make sure everybody is safe.”

“During this period of extraordinary circumstances that have arisen, the City of Columbia believes it is in the best interest of public safety, free speech and freedom of peacable assembly to temporarily extend the existing ban of weapons as enacted by the General Assembly within 250 feet of the borders of the Capitol Complex,” the ordinance reads.

Violators will be charged with a misdemeanor and fined up to $500 or sent to jail for up to thirty days if caught with a weapon.

Truth In Media will be covering the flag removal ceremony on Friday.

At 10am, the Confederate Flag came down from the State capitol memorial.

S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley Signs Bill To Remove Confederate Flag From State Capitol


Today S.C. Governor Nikki Haley signed a bill to remove the Confederate battle flag off of State Capitol grounds. It was a historic move after both the State Senate and House voted to remove it following the tragic mass murder of nine black churchgoers at the Mother Emanuel AME Church in downtown Charleston, S.C. including S.C. Senator Clementa Pinckney.

But the decision to remove the flag was a controversial one. Truth In Media reported on those who were for and against the removal of the Confederate Battle flag.

Gov. Haley has been praised for her decision to remove the Confederate Flag, but many supporters of the Confederate flag, who view it as a symbol of heritage and not a symbol of hate, scolded Gov. Haley on her Facebook page.

haley FB post

County Councilman Stewart Jones (R-Laurens County District 4) commented, “Gov. Haley, My ancestors fought and died for their homes. They fought and died for South Carolina and this is how they’re repaid? They’ve been dead for 150 years. No compromise? The confederate battle flag didn’t kill anyone. It’s a scape goat and they’re coming for the foundations of America and you’ve just helped Obama.”


S.C. State Senator Lee Bright (R-District 12) was one of the Republican leaders in the Senate who opposed the removal of the Confederate Flag. The Bright campaign produced the video below in support of the Confederate Flag.

lee bright video flag

Despite Gov. Haley being a supporter of the Confederate Flag during the campaign trail last year, the tragedy of the Holy City Massacre and political pressure will bring the Confederate Flag down this Friday.

Poll: Majority Of Americans Say Confederate Flag Represents Southern Pride, Not Racism

After the Confederate flag was seen being held by Dylann Roof, the suspect in a shooting massacre in Charleston, South Carolina, in pictures that surfaced on the Internet accompanied with a “racist manifesto,” the debate began over what the flag actually represented.

While Several major retailers responded by pulling all Confederate flag merchandise from their shelves, deeming it “offensive” and a “symbol of racism and slavery” and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley called for the flag to be removed from the state’s capitol grounds, a recent survey claims that the majority of Americans don’t see the flag as a racist symbol.

According to a CNN/ORC Poll, 57 percent of Americans see the Confederate flag as more of a symbol of Southern pride and heritage than as a symbol of racism. 33 percent see it as a symbol of racism, and five percent say it is “both equally” while five percent say it is “neither.”

There was a notable divide between races, with only 17 percent of blacks and 66 percent of whites viewing the flag as a symbol of Southern pride, while 72 percent of blacks and 25 percent of whites view it was a symbol of racism.

While 87 percent of the individuals polled said that the Charleston shooting should be considered a hate crime, only 41 percent said it should be considered an act of terrorism.

The poll also found that there was a divide based on education, and that among the whites polled who said they had a college degree, 51 percent said the Confederate flag was a symbol of Southern pride and 41 percent said it was a symbol of racism, while among whites who said they did not have a college degree, 73 percent said the flag was a symbol of pride and 18 percent said it was a symbol of racism.

Although 57 percent of the Americans polled opposed redesigning the Confederate flag, 71 percent opposed removing tributes to those who fought in the Confederacy and 68 percent opposed renaming the streets and highways that are named after Confederate leaders, 55 percent supported removing Confederate flags from government property that is not part of a museum.

Related: Companies Ban Confederate Flag Sales, But Keep Nazi And Che Guevara Merchandise

According to the poll, 50 percent of Americans supported private companies choosing not to sell or manufacture items featuring the Confederate flag, while 47 percent opposed it. Looking at the demographics, 65 percent of blacks were in support of private companies halting the sale of Confederate flag merchandise, and 49 percent of whites were in support.

The poll was conducted through telephone interviews by ORC International on June 26-28, a little over a week after the Charleston shooting occurred on June 17. A total of 1,017 adult Americans were interviewed, and there was a margin of sampling error plus or minus three percentage points. 611 of the interviews were conducted with landline respondents and 406 of the interviews were conducted with cell phone respondents.

Take the Truth In Media Poll below:

Video: Brawl Gets Bloody At The SC Confederate Flag Memorial

Columbia, S.C.-  On Monday, a fight erupted between a group of flag supporters and protesters at the South Carolina Statehouse.

The blood on my face, the blood in my teeth, the blood on my hands is no comparison to the Southern blood that runs through my veins,” Joe Linder told CBS News.

Linder, who was hit during the fight, supports the Confederate flag and says “racism has no part” in it.

SC confederate flag rally

One Confederate flag supporter told her side of the story to Truth In Media.

We had flags and we were talking to the press and media, defending our heritage, which is under attack, and we made the message very very clear that we are not about racism or any of the sort, we are all for peaceful demonstrations and having logical discussions on this issue,” said the flag supporter.

“Unfortunately a black group showed up and began confronting us, shouting ‘racist’ in our faces, cursing at us. Twice i saw the cops had to intervene. I have over 30 minutes of video that I recorded of the black group circling us, shouting at us, and being very confrontational, despite the fact that we had a sign that read, ‘all lives matter’ and one that had pictures of black confederate veterans with a message that read, ‘these confederate lives matter.'”

According to witnesses, when a Confederate Flag was taken by a protester, a fight broke out into a busy street in front of the Statehouse.

We were having a peaceful demonstration to defend out heritage which is now under viscous attack. The hate and racism came from the other side not us,” said flag supporter.

Racial tensions are increasing on both sides as the debate of the Confederate flag continues in South Carolina.

Did The U.S. Government Order Amazon To Stop Selling Confederate Flag Merchandise?

After the recent shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, in which nine people were killed, pictures surfaced online of the suspect, 21-year-old Dylann Roof, waving the Confederate Flag, and several major retailers reacted by pulling all Confederate flag merchandise from their shelves, deeming it “offensive” and a “symbol of racism and slavery.”

Amazon was one of major retailers that removed all Confederate flag merchandise, and on Thursday, InfoWars reported that the company “was ordered by the federal government not to sell items featuring the Confederate flag in the aftermath of the Charleston shooting.”

Citing a chat message between a customer and one of Amazon’s service reps, InfoWars  claimed that when asked about why there are “no Confederate flags for sale on Amazon,” Daniel V. from Amazon said that “due to national controversy regarding the Confederate flag due to recent issues on national news, by federal law retailers have been instructed to remove the Confederate flag from sale.”


Daniel V. goes on to say that retailers such as Walmart were also “instructed to remove all Confederate flags from sale,” and goes as far as to give a link to a story from CNN about how several major retailers “announced in quick succession that they would stop selling Confederate flag merchandise.”

Truth In Media contacted the office of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos for a statement about whether the company was instructed to remove all Confederate flag merchandise by federal law. A representative from the company told Truth In Media, “We can confirm that Amazon acted independently to remove confederate flag merchandise.”

All Amazon customers have access to an “online chat” with the company’s customer service representatives, such as the one reported by InfoWars. If customers are looking to access this feature, they can sign into their Amazon accounts, select “Help,” click on “Contact Us,” and then select their type of problem and choose Chat as the method of contact.

We went through the channels and were connected with a customer service rep. from Amazon named “Rachel.”


Amazon-Chat-2When asked about why the Confederate flag is no longer available on Amazon.com, Rachel from Amazon said, “Amazon acted independently to remove Confederate flag merchandise on our website and we truly apologize for the inconvenience.”

Rachel from Amazon also said that she does not have “an exact reason why the item was removed from the website.” 

All of the answers we received from Amazon’s service rep. on their “online chat” were very textbook and in addition to not mentioning anything about federal law, they also did not include any links from mainstream media sources such as CNN in their replies.

Amazon has not responded to Truth In Media’s request for comment on the guidelines Amazon customer services representatives are required to follow when responding to questions on their website’s “online chat” feature.

SC Libertarian Steve French Speaks On Confederate Flag Removal

The debate over taking the Confederate Flag down at the State capitol is a red hot issue in South Carolina. Truth In Media reached out to libertarian candidate Steve French for his thoughts and the political ramifications of the issue heading into the 2016 presidential election.

French told Truth In Media that he believes that the Confederate flag should come down but the act should be taken a step further. “I think the Down with Tillman movement needs to go hand-in-hand with this Confederate Flag movement,” French said.

According to the Charleston City Paper, Ben Tillman “was a racist, terrorist, and murderer.”

In 2009, Rep. Todd Rutherford (D-Richland) filed a bill to remove the Tillman statue of the controversial S.C. politician. The bill died in a Republican-controlled subcommittee.

“It’s not about bringing the Confederate Flag down, it’s about moving past this history that we’ve had in this Country and this State. And I say it’s time to move forward, it’s time to put these old things to bed. It’s not just about the flag, its about the whole system,” said French.

Last year in a gubernatorial debate, Gov. Nikki Haley defended the Confederate flag while French called for it to come down.

“Paint your house in the Confederate flag. I could care less. But as far as it being on State grounds for somebody my age, I see nothing that that does except divide us as a generation and a State. All it brings is divisiveness,” said French.

Listen to the full exclusive interview here.

 “I think the #DownWithTillman movement needs to go hand-in-hand with this Confederate Flag movement.”

Jim Webb Stands Up For People Who Memorialize The Confederacy

By Alex Pappas

Former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb, a southern Democrat contemplating a run for president, encouraged people on Wednesday to understand the “complicated history of the Civil War” when calling for the removal of the Confederate flag across the country.

“This is an emotional time and we all need to think through these issues with a care that recognizes the need for change but also respects the complicated history of the Civil War,” Webb wrote in a post on Facebook.

Responding to the shooting in Charleston last week, the governors of South Carolina and Alabama have called for the removal of the flag off the capitol grounds.

Responding to the removal of the Confederate flag in states across the country, Webb said: “The Confederate Battle Flag has wrongly been used for racist and other purposes in recent decades. It should not be used in any way as a political symbol that divides us.”

Webb’s statement — which could appeal to southerners who view the flag not as a symbol of hate, but of history and regional pride — is at odds with the more liberal wing of his party. Hillary Clinton, for example, said Wednesday that she would like to see stores across the country stop selling Confederate flags.

Webb also said: “We should also remember that honorable Americans fought on both sides in the Civil War, including slave holders in the Union Army from states such as Missouri, Kentucky, Maryland and Delaware, and that many non-slave holders fought for the South. It was in recognition of the character of soldiers on both sides that the federal government authorized the construction of the Confederate Memorial 100 years ago, on the grounds of Arlington National Cemetery.”

“This is a time for us to come together, and to recognize once more that our complex multicultural society is founded on the principle of mutual respect,” he said.

Follow Alex on Twitter

Companies Ban Confederate Flag Sales, But Keep Nazi And Che Guevara Merchandise

Several major retailers have banned sales of the Confederate flag, after it was seen in photos being held by Dylann Roof, the suspect in the shooting that left nine people dead at a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina, last week.

The major companies, which include Walmart, Amazon, eBay, Sears, Target and Etsy have cited similar reasons for the removal of Confederate flag merchandise, along the lines that it is “offensive” and is a “symbol of racism and slavery.”

While Walmart carried products that included the Confederate flag’s design up until Monday, it discontinued that merchandise after South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley called for the removal of the flag from the state capitol grounds.

Haley said that although many people in the state view the flag as a “symbol of respect, integrity and duty,” and a way “to honor the ancestors who came to the service of their state during time of conflict,” others see it as a “deeply offensive symbol of a brutally oppressive past.”

Brian Nick, a spokesperson for Walmart, released a statement saying that the retailer intends to avoid carrying items that are offensive.

“We never want to offend anyone with the products that we offer. We have taken steps to remove all items promoting the confederate flag from our assortment — whether in our stores or on our web site,” Nick said. “We have a process in place to help lead us to the right decisions when it comes to the merchandise we sell. Still, at times, items make their way into our assortment improperly — this is one of those instances.”

The Gateway Pundit noted that while Walmart has committed to halting the sales of Confederate flags, it still sells posters glorifying Che Guevara, the “notorious anti-Black racist from Argentina who murdered hungry children and became an icon for leftists around the world for his role in the 1959 communist takeover of Cuba.”


In all, Walmart.com carries seventeen different posters and prints commemorating Guevara, ranging from $12.50 for a 24 x 36 Guevara print to $339.99 for a Guevara canvas.

The Blaze noted that Guevara “murdered Cubans because of their supposed affiliation with the U.S.” and said things such as “the Negro is indolent and spends his money on frivolities and drink,” “the Negro has maintained his racial purity by his well known habit of avoiding baths,” and “The U.S. is the great enemy of mankind!”

Johnna Hoff, a spokesperson for eBay, released a statement saying that the online retailer is banning merchandise containing the Confederate flag because it has “become a contemporary symbol of divisiveness and racism.”

However, eBay also allows sales of merchandise commemorating Che Guevara, from T-Shirts to posters.


CNN reported that on Amazon, sales of three versions of the Confederate flag were “up 1,670% to 2,305% over a period of 24 hours,” and that one of the flags, which was priced at $1.80 plus shipping, is both “the ninth best-selling item in the Patio, Lawn & Garden department,” and “the top-selling item among all outdoor flags and banners sold on Amazon.”

Despite the sudden rise in sales, Amazon joined the group of retailers banning Confederate flag merchandise on Tuesday.

However, while it banned the material for being “offensive,” it still carries several products commemorating Nazi Germany, including a Swatika-themed iPhone 5 case for $5.99, a “#hitler” mug for $20.99, Playstation 4 Swastika-themed Console and Remote Controller skins for $21.99 and Hitler’s Nazi SS Flag for $7.35.


SC Lawmaker Defends Flying Of Confederate Battle Flag

If you watch the national media, you would think that the debate over the Confederate flag in South Carolina is over. The truth is the debate is just beginning.

Rep. Jonathon Hill (R-S.C.) told Truth In Media’s Joshua Cook about his thoughts on the Confederate battle flag on the State capitol grounds as well as his thoughts on the tragic event at Mother Emanuel AME Church in downtown Charleston, S.C.

Hill said, “First, there has been so much love and forgiveness expressed by the family members, by the church members, and how the community of Charleston has come together and the city over this incident. And that’s what the focus should be on because you’re going to defeat racism with love and respect and quite honestly–Christianity.”

“The flag didn’t kill anyone,” said Hill.

“It [Confederate flag] is currently not flying over the State house, it is flying next to the Confederate monument here on the State house grounds. I can’t think of a more appropriate place to fly it. It would be like having a Confederate flag flying next to a grave stone next to a fallen Confederate soldier,” said Hill.

Hill asked, “What are we going to do if we take down this flag? Are we also going to chisel out the words on the monument? Are we going to bulldoze down the monument, take down the monument altogether? If we start going down that road, then we’re going to begin to forget what happened during that dark period of our history.”

Sources tell Truth In Media that it would probably be weeks or months, maybe August, before Confederate flag legislation gets to a vote. In other words, it won’t be as fast as what is currently being reported.

In 2014, during a gubernatorial debate, S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley debated libertarian candidate Steve French on the issue of the Confederate flag. French said the flag hindered economic growth while Gov. Haley defended the flag.

Cook stated that Gov. Haley did a complete 180 on the issue of the flag due to political pressure. Hill agreed.

The recent flag controversy has sparked many different reactions from the political right. As reported by Truth In Media, Senator and Presidential candidate Rand Paul (R-Ky) stated that the Confederate flag was a “symbol of slavery and murder.”

[RELATED: Rand Paul Speaks Out Against Confederate Flag as a Symbol of Slavery and Murder]

State Senator Lee Bright (R-S.C.) characterized the movement to remove the Confederate flag and other Confederate monuments as a “Stalinist Purge.”

While a national movement is calling for the flag to come down, some local residents say it should stay.

A recent poll sponsored by the Greenville News indicates that many in South Carolina agree with Senator Bright. The unscientific poll asks: Should the Confederate flag be removed from South Carolina’s State house? As of this publication, 32% voted ‘yes’ and 68% voted ‘no.’

flag poll

150 Years After the Civil War, How That Flag Comes Down

Another racist tragedy reminds us that 150 years after the end of the civil war, America still has a minority that it has failed to integrate, with fatal consequences.

Although some of the members of this minority are unusually educated and privileged outliers, we rarely see them with their hands on the levers of power; we rarely see them in control of large companies or wherever else there is great wealth; their neighborhoods tend to be poorer than those of the rest of the nation; when its men walk down the street wearing fashions and symbols that reflect their sub-culture, others look down upon them; it is a minority that is even viewed as less intelligent than the rest of America, more prone to violence and simplistic politics.

I am referring, of course, to white Southerners.

That’s not what you were expecting, was it?…

… Which is a shame – because ending America’s deep racial wound that reopens and (literally) bleeds all too frequently even hundreds of years after it was inflicted, depends on our understanding the lack of integration of not only those who have been historically victimized – black Americans – but also of those who are accused of providing the cultural context for the ongoing victimization – white Southerners.

I was not born American, but I shall become one very soon, and when I do America’s history will become mine. Like the hearts of all other Americans, my heart is breaking at the recent event in Charleston – a deranged but utterly calculated attack on the values and the people of my nation.

In a recent episode of the Daily Show, Jon Stewart wryly expounded on the tragedy.

“We have to peer once again into the abyss of the depraved violence that we do to each other in the nexus of a just gaping racial wound that will not heal but we pretend doesn’t exist… I’m confident, though, that by acknowledging it, by staring into that and seeing it for what it is, we still won’t do jack sh*t.”

Jon rightly pointed out that if any attack could ever properly be called a racist attack, it was the murder on Thursday of nine church-goers in Charleston. As he explained, the church where the murders were committed is a symbol to the black community not least because of the attacks that have been perpetrated there before. And the murderer wears a coat on which are sewn flags of two of the worst white supremacist apartheid regimes that the world has ever seen.

But then Jon said something that jarred with me: “We are steeped in that culture in this country and we refuse to recognize it, and I cannot believe how hard people are working to discount it. In South Carolina, the roads that black people drive on are named for confederate generals, who fought to keep black people from being able to drive freely on that road.” Jon called this state of affairs “insanity” and “racial wallpaper”, and he said of it, “you cannot allow that”.

He is right to draw attention to that wallpaper: if I were black, and my surname was the name of the man who enslaved one of my ancestors, I’d have a negative reaction to such cultural fabric and the insensitivity it implies. I’d be justified in feeling insulted by being told I do not understand what it really means. I’d be right in thinking that a little humility and grace should be enough to stop people insisting on flying it higher over the state I and my enslaved ancestors called home.

But “disallowing it” is very different from understanding why it is there – and unless we do that, nothing will ultimately change. Indeed, telling people they can’t have or mustn’t do something usually makes them want to have it or do it even more. The fundamental question is not how will the flag be removed from Southern flagpoles – but how it will be removed from Southern hearts.

I don’t believe that most Southerners who vote for the confederate flag to fly above their buildings or the roads to carry the names of Southern generals want to see the deaths of African Americans. Yet, it is surely easy enough to see how those things exacerbate a very troubled situation. Why, then, do so many basically-decent people insist that they remain?

In my native land of England, roads are named for people good and bad, and history is checkered – as is every nation’s history. England chopped off the head of a king, Charles I, for his utter tyranny, but now nevertheless recognizes that same king’s importance with a statue in the capital city. We revere, by popular poll, Winston Churchill, who saved our nation, as the greatest Briton, while admitting that he didn’t get everything right, was an imperialist and, especially early in his career, made catastrophic decisions that resulted in the unnecessary deaths of tens of thousands of people. We recognize the evil done by Brits who enslaved and the good done by Brits who ended slavery, but we don’t think that members of either group are defined just by their view on that issue. We acknowledge that in many places the British empire was about dominating other cultures and people – something we entirely reject today – and yet we appreciate the greatness of many of the achievements of the men who were involved in building it – a greatness which, if the names of places and monuments in India, for example, are anything to go by, even the “victims” of that dominance can still appreciate.

In short, a mature society realizes that the present identity of all of its members depends on every single bit of its history – the bits of which today we are ashamed as well as the bits of which we are proud. Publicly recognizing the importance of all of those actions, events and decisions, and even celebrating them as part of who we are, does not mean that we today agree with the values that justified them at the time. But if we ignore them or, worse, bury them, we can neither unite as one people nor truly learn from our mistakes.

It is human nature to seek an identity that connects us to our peers (tribe, nation) and our place. And such identity is always found in shared history. You can’t throw out history without atomizing and ultimately demeaning the individual.

American Southerners, like all people everywhere, have a deep yearning to own their history, in which their identity lies, and find ways to take pride in it. The South has a rich history that is so much more than slavery. But the rest of the United States, of which the South is politically a part, seems not to be able to integrate and celebrate that history. Rather, the history of the South is, to America as a whole, a kind of anti-history – a “foil” to the great and good path that America chose. In other words, America’s identity not only fails to include the South, but almost depends on historical rejection of it. One might say that Yankee America – the winners of the Civil War – has engaged the need to end the segregation of the historic racial “other” – African Americans – but not the need to end the segregation of a cultural and moral “other” – the formerly guilty South.

As someone who’s been welcomed to the United States as an immigrant (for now more than a decade), I’ve learned much more by osmosis about its civil rights history and black leaders than ever I’ve learned about the South. Indeed, almost all I’ve been exposed to about the South is what was wrong with it – all the bad it ever did. Where in the larger American story is the celebration of the South as more than slavery – as an American sub-culture that has its own beautiful stories of complexity, love, heroism and ambition, which all societies everywhere are built on?

I notice that in modern America, it’s not generally acceptable for well-meaning, educated (mostly white) Americans to generalize negatively about African Americans, but it is acceptable to jokingly put down Southerners as in some way morally, politically or culturally backward – often with the implication that their moral, political or cultural backwardness is a kind of watered-down version of whatever allowed slavery to happen in the first place.

Put another way, we appreciate that African Americans as a group were historically “otherized” by our nation, and we admit our national and moral responsibility to address the consequences of that fact; but when it comes to the white South, “otherization” is still acceptable. We can’t call it racism because the North and South are not racially different, but it is still chauvinism. And it is as old as the Civil War and therefore very, very deep. Moreover, it’s harder to shift because it is sustained by a moral judgment against the people who are “otherized”. Whereas an African American may suffer “otherization” today because of an injustice against his people in the past, the Southerner suffers it today but because of something supposedly still blameworthy about his culture.

We may not have fully accepted and integrated our African American communities, but most of us at least realize the need for it, and the essential justice of doing so. But in a way, 150 years after the civil war, the nation is even less able to integrate the white South – because its people are still seen as heirs to ancestors with blood on their hands, and so America-at-large demands the impossible of America-in-part: that today’s Southerners repudiate or bury a past that a) they had no part in making and b) will always be their past, and therefore part of their identity, whether they deny it or not.

If our nation ignores (at best) or simplistically rejects (at worst) the rich history of a part of itself, then how can those who identify with that part of the nation find an identity within that nation? Simply, they cannot. Rather, they will do what all conquered cultures do the world over: they will grab on to the symbols of what was taken from them when they became subjugated.

In 1861, the otherization of the South by the North was literal and obvious, coming in the form of bayonets and artillery. Most Americans regard that as timely and justified. But to the extent that Southerners are today held as backward, they are still being otherized. And like all minorities that are otherized for extended periods, they have come to own that otherization (just as many African Americans have come to own the derogatory labels that whites used to use against them but today may not), celebrating the symbols of their otherness as the only thing they have.

It is simply human nature.

So perhaps the flying of confederate flags does not cause racism or do harm per se. The naming of streets after men who fought for slavery is not racist or harmful per se. These things do not ultimately cause division. Rather, it is the prevailing, divided, cultural context that causes people to experience those symbols and names as still threatening. Jon Stewart is right that we will be better off when the racial wallpaper is taken down, but to tear it down and keep it down, we must recognize that it is more effect than cause.

The deep wound of racism in America will not be gone when the confederate flag can only be found in history books and roads are all named after post-Civil War figures, but when all Americans, black and white alike, northerners and southerners too, can appreciate all the old flags and dead generals as symbols and makers of a present identity, in the safe knowledge that we are united as Americans, beyond racism, against violence, and against condescension justified by skin color, the acts of our ancestors or the degree to which we hold those ancestors and their actions as formative of our identity.

Since I arrived in the United States 11 years ago, it’s been very obvious to me that Americans are acutely aware of the evils of racial segregation. Martin Luther King is one important historical figure that, fortunately, American kids do know about. And I don’t know any American who seriously thinks that King didn’t have a point, or that the civil rights movement was a lot of hot air about nothing. And while many of us disagree about the best way to respond to the historical inequities that play out economically and socially today in our minority communities, most Americans admit they are there.

Folks disagree about the morality of racially-based affirmative action, for example, but at least we all know why we’re discussing it. In fact we are so sensitive to our history of racial victimization, there are even certain words that may not be said by people of one color but may be said by people of another: in other words, we are so aware of the racial issue that we’ve almost changed the tacit rules of our language on its account. I can turn on CNN, MSNBC or even (yes, it’s true) Fox News, any day and hear about the disadvantages suffered by various African American communities. Our nation has even designated a month for official celebration of this ethnic and cultural thread of American history.

No; the discrimination that is responsible for the flying of confederate flags and the dangerous cultural context that can produce deluded people like Dylann Roof is a more subtle discrimination – a discrimination that dare not speak its name – a moral and cultural discrimination against a guilty white South.

As victors of the Civil War, perhaps the North has still not decided whether they want a peace like the one after World War I, when Germany was held (at Versailles) as entirely blameworthy and morally bankrupt, or like the one after World War II, when Germany was quickly invited into the community of nations, from which the whole world has benefited.

Likewise, America’s racial problem hinges on whether America insists on holding its Southern self as still blameworthy and “other” or whether it invites it in, without qualification, just as the world today recognizes Germany as so much more than the Kaiser and Nazism, and treats it as a member of the community of nations with equal moral and cultural standing as the rest.

Does the rest of America really see the South as its moral and cultural equal, and does it really admit that the history of the South is American history, to be celebrated as part of the American story? There is nothing to celebrate in slavery, but the South is more than its racial history. It is up to the rest of the nation to integrate the South by recognizing it as more than being on the wrong side of a historic issue – by talking about the South positively in relation to anything else at all.

All communities need a historical identity. If the rest of America can’t assimilate the South into the American identity by integrating Southern history into its own as completely and honestly as it integrates the Civil Rights movement, the Founders, the heroes of the North, the Patriots against the British, and so on, then it will share some responsibility for the confederate flags that fly over South Carolina.

While the flying of confederate flags may rightly be regarded as insensitive and indecent until such time as we sort out this mess, the ultimate goal is not that the flags come down and the roads in South Carolina are renamed in favor of the northern generals that defeated them: it’s the development of a shared cultural context in which the flags and names have lost their power to divide, and Southerners are not made to feel guilty for celebrating everything in their history that is not slavery. But of course, when we finally get there, this point will be moot – because the flags will come down anyway, since Southerners will feel, at last, that the Stars and Stripes really is their flag too.

And that’s the only ultimate, stable solution.

The integration of one minority depends on the integration of another.

Admit the South to a truly American identity and the need for confederate identity will disappear. And those who would object that Southerners can choose today whether to be Americans or confederates (who is stopping them, after all?) should respect the moral burden that comes from the historic choice to use force to subjugate the South – for whether that subjugation was justified does not change the fact that the method used to eliminate slavery was nevertheless one of violent imposition. And it is always the experience of violence – rather than the good intentions of those that used it – that determines the reaction of a defeated people through subsequent generations.

As the old saw goes, “the winners write the history”. The supposedly United States of America has already decided to write African Americans positively into its history, thank God. Now, healing our deep racial wounds depends on whether, with equal moral urgency, it writes the South positively into its history, too.

All the while we fail to do the latter, the South is being denied its American identity and will cling to the symbols of the only other identity it has.

And if, when they do so cling, the rest of us otherize them by calling them racists and burning their flag, we will make the problem worse: we will make them fly that confederate flag higher and so alienate our African American countrymen in those states even more. Or perhaps, if we’re too self-righteous, we will cause them to pin their flag up in dark rooms at home? Either way, we will have played our part in the continuation of the vicious cycle.

So yes, American desperately needs healing through integration.

But there’s more than one minority in this country that is made to feel that it is “in America but not of it”. Our nation, our shared nation, our beautiful nation, must come to terms not only with the burden on the innocent ancestors of our history’s victims, but also with the burden on the innocent ancestors of our history’s victimizers.

In short, we must try to understand those who are discriminated against culturally as deeply as we do those who have been discriminated against racially. Accordingly, it would do us well to remember that practically all of us – black and white, Northerners and Southerners – are related to both slavers and enslaved if only we trace our genealogy back far enough – and no one alive today gets to take the credit or the blame for any of it.

Given how far we still have to go as a nation, the moral and cultural acceptance of the white South, the taking down of the racial wallpaper, and the equal treatment of African Americans everywhere, might seem to require an impossible degree of acceptance and humility from the descendants of history’s victors, vanquished, and victims.

But we’d be wrong to be so pessimistic.

Not only should we expect to find such qualities in our nation: they are working their healing power right now through the almost incomprehensible grace and forgiveness of the kith and kin of nine Americans who lost their lives in a church in Charleston.


VIDEO: Nikki Haley Calls For Confederate Flag Removal From Capitol Grounds

Amidst a wave of opposition against the Confederate flag and what it represents, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley announced today a call for the removal of the flag from the state capitol grounds.

During a press conference held this afternoon, Governor Haley acknowledged the heartbreak over the tragic murder of nine individuals at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston. The man accused of the attack, 21-year-old Dylann Storm Roof, had reportedly written a “racist manifestothat he published on a website registered in February under his name. The website, which is no longer accessible, bore images of the Confederate flag, sparking national debate on the Confederate flag as a symbol of hatred.

Our state is grieving,” Governor Haley said during the press conference. “But we are also coming together. The outpouring of love and support from all corners of people across this state and country has been amazing.” It was in that spirit of coming together, she said, that she will have the Confederate flag at the capitol taken down.

Just yesterday, tens of thousands of people joined together to march to the top of the Ravenel Bridge, called the Bridge to Peace. The demonstration honored the nine people killed inside the church last week—Rev. Clementa Pinckney, Ethel Lance, Cynthia Hurd, Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Myra Thompson, Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr., Tywanza Sanders, Susie Jackson and Depayne Middleton Doctor.

Some members of the public have expressed outrage at the government for its response to the murders in Charleston, including one woman who called President Barack Obama an “Uncle Tom” during a live broadcast on CNN.

Several politicians and members of the media have made public statements directing the leadership in South Carolina to remove the Confederate flag, popularizing the hashtag #ConfederateFlag and #Charleston. Even Apple CEO Tim Cook and Salesforce chief executive Marc Benioff also called on South Carolina to remove the Confederate flag.

More from the press conference:

We were recently named the friendliest state in the country, and the most patriotic too,” Governor Haley remarked. “American flags fly proudly from home to home in South Carolina. In just the last few months, the nation watched our state go through another time of crisis, when we dealt with the betrayal of one of our own in the tragic shooting of Walter Scott. South Carolina did not respond with rioting and violence, like other places have. We responded by talking to each other, by putting ourselves in other people’s shoes, and by finding common ground in the name of moving our state forward.

“The result? Both Republicans and Democrats, black and white, came together and passed the first body camera bill in the country. And I stand in front of you, a minority female governor, twice elected by the people of South Carolina. Behind me stands my friend, Sen. Tim Scott, elected by those same people as one of just two African-American members of the United States Senate.

“Five years ago, it was said that in the last 50 years, South Carolina is the state that has changed the most for the better. That was true when I quoted it at my first inauguration in 2011. It’s even more true today. We have changed through the times, and we will continue to do so. But that does not mean we forget our history.

“History is often filled with emotion. And that is more true in South Carolina than a lot of other places. On matters of race, South Carolina has a tough history. We all know that. Many of us have seen it in our own lives, and in the lives of our parents and grandparents. We don’t need reminders.

“In spite of last week’s tragedy, we have come a long way since those days and have much to be proud of. But there is more we can do. That brings me to the subject of the Confederate flag that flies on the state house grounds. For many people in our state, the flag stands for traditions that are noble—traditions of history, of heritage and of ancestry. The hate-filled murderer who massacred our brothers and sisters in Charleston has a sick and twisted view of the flag. In no way does he reflect the people in our state who respect and, in many ways, revere it.

“Those South Carolinians view the flag as a symbol of respect, integrity and duty. They also see it as a memorial—a way to honor the ancestors who came to the service of their state during time of conflict. That is not hate, nor is it racism.

“At the same time, for many others in South Carolina the flag is a deeply offensive symbol of a brutally oppressive past. As a state, we can survive and indeed we can thrive, as we have done, while still being home to both those viewpoints. We do not need to declare a winner and a loser here. We respect freedom of expression, and for those who wish to show their respect for the flag on your private property, no one will stand in your way.

“But the state house is different, and the events of this past week call upon us to look at this in a different way. Fifteen years ago, after much contentious debate, South Carolina came together in a bipartisan way, to move the flag from atop the capitol dome. Today, we are here in a moment of unity in our state, without ill will, to say that it’s time to move the flag from capitol grounds.”

Watch the full speech above and share your thoughts on the decision in the comments below.