The Minimal Symbolic Gesture of Confederate Flag Removal

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The Associated Press has counted a 93-27 South Carolina House vote to adopt the Senate version of a bill to remove the Confederate flag from the statehouse grounds. After a 12-hour debate, the bill passed Thursday, post-midnight. The State Senate had voted overwhelmingly Monday to ban the banner that has, since it’s inception, stood for racial hatred and oppression and in spite of what you may have heard, nothing else.

Hatred of another race is not States’ Rights, nor is it a First Amendment issue. Hatred has consequences. Removal of the Confederate flag from a flag pole on state government grounds is the least of them. House opponents introduced 68 time-wasting amendments, all rejected. CNN reported death threats leveled at legislators and a massive pro-flag, statewide robocall effort according to The State newspaper, all for naught. One more perfunctory bill remains that will not change the outcome. The flag is coming down.

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The senate vote was 37-3, with ever-reliable State Senator Lee Bright from Upstate South Carolina, predictably occupying the minority position. This should come as no surprise considering his comment that such a flag removal action was tantamount to a Stalinist purge. Bright’s brand of hate can be a political enterprise of great promise. This clever pol has offered Confederate flag stickers to all those who contribute to his upcoming senatorial campaign. What an odd country is America.

The bill’s passage in the extremely right-wing house comes as no surprise. Politicians in the state capital of Columbia can hate blacks with every fiber of their being and still vote to remove the flag. That’s because they rely on the racist vote for their re-election. Contradictory? Not really.

It works this way. The measure passes the General Assembly. The right-wing Tea Party that controls the state with the help of wealthy sympathizer contributors, uses the vote and the inevitable white Republican backlash, to mount a campaign for a ballot issue to return the flag to its RIGHTful place. The nonbinding referendum has already been bandied about. That gets the racist Republican voters to the polls. Those voters elect nothing but radicals to occupy both senate and house seats.

There are people working on the wording of the referendum at this very moment. Incumbents who voted for removal are in no danger of subsequent defeat because, wink, wink, nudge, nudge, in-the-know right-wingers were aware of the referendum plan all along.

A knee-jerk right-wing buzzword has already been created: “Heritage.” That’s right, bucko. The Confederate flag has nothing whatsoever to do with holding a group of innocent men, women and children in the brutal yoke of slavery that still exists in subtle and not so subtle variations. For true believers, heritage apparently has nothing to do with secession and a subsequent war to perpetuate the extraordinarily inhuman practice of slavery forever.

Let’s examine this “Heritage.” As tracked by website, U.S. History, after Abe Lincoln was elected with his foolhardy (for the South) ideas of freeing the slaves, within a few days, the two United States Senators from South Carolina submitted their resignations. The South Carolina General Assembly called for a “Secession Convention.” Delegates were elected and on December 20, 1860, by a vote of 169-0, an “ordinance” was enacted that “the union now subsisting between South Carolina and other States, under the name of ‘The United States of America,’ is hereby dissolved.” Historians mark this action as the beginning of the Civil War, though the first shots weren’t fired until January 9th of the following year.

Southern Belles and Dogwoods notwithstanding, repression and a sneering indifference to the quality of black life is how any thoughtful person with even a smattering of eighth grade history, translates the PR term of “heritage” in South Carolina. Any kid who has read the historical profiles of the likes of John Calhoun and Jefferson Davis, would dismiss the term altogether. Then there was nasty Preston Brooks, a South Carolina politician infamous for caning Massachusetts abolitionist Senator, Charles Sumner in U.S. Senate chambers. And how about all the other pot-boiling racist politicians and Generals who relished the idea of forcing human-flesh into obeying every command of the Slavemaster? Most were willing to let others fight and die for that right.

Those who would suggest that not all Confederate soldiers were racists are absolutely correct. That they were pawns of a power elite determined to have somebody else do all the work in the fields of commerce and battle, while the Slavemaster hoarded all the benefits, is unquestioned. I brook no resentment toward those souls who gave their lives for an evil cause. Countless wars are fought under similar pretenses.

Great media hype was concentrated on the so-called forgiving nature of African-American pastors, who stood side-by-side with “conservative” Republican office holders during assorted high-profile events of remembrance for the victims of a Confederate flag- obsessed, right-wing, young fool. These were the same politicians who have spent their careers systematically blocking every entry to the great American Dream for blacks, while voting repeatedly against any and all benefits to those at the bottom of the economic strata.

Affirmative action? Nay! Expanding Medicaid? Nay! Raise the minimum wage? Nay! Support unions? Nay! Housing and employment discrimination? Bring it on! Totally unbalanced sentencing between black offenders and white offenders? Oh yeah! Deny blacks the right to vote? You darn betcha! Shoot ’em in the back while fleeing? Sounds good to me! Brutally slay nine wonderful, innocent, spiritual citizens for no reason other than color? That’s today’s right-wing mantra, little of substance has changed over the last 150 years.

And black preachers are rubbing elbows with the least Christian among us? I get it. I get the heroic and Christian stance of forgiveness. But it’s wasted on most of the Republicans who shared stages and church pews in the after-sorrow of the acts of a clueless, monster, punk, his social media festooned with the Confederate flag.

For those still needing your flag fix, after removal from the statehouse grounds, the State Newspaper reports the flag will find a permanent home at the Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum along with other Confederate memorabilia including a wall naming and honoring the 21,500 South Carolina soldiers who gave their lives for the cause. Business will boom if the flag is removed as locals and tourists will flock to the place.

Black voters should flock to the polls in 2016. Elections are the weapons of the white Republican societal war that has treated the black population with cynicism and disdain. And that includes the specific targeting of our black president who has been disrespected like an 18th and 19th century field hand by virtually every Republican Congressman and woman in Washington.

Remove the flag? Better late than never, but it’s Like prescribing an aspirin to cure cancer.

Remove racism!!!