There has been a lot of discussion surrounding the battle flag of the Confederacy in light of the tragedy in Charleston. It’s caused a lot of people, both Republican and Democrat, to call for the removal of the Confederate battle flag from main line view. South Carolina’s governor is supportive of removing the battle flag from its state capitol grounds, and now there is focus on Mississippi’s state flag which bears the symbol. I think it’s a fair discussion as, for some, it brings up negative imagery and connotations to racism and bigotry.
I have heritage in the Civil War, and I’m not ashamed of that. My maternal great great grandfather fought in the army of Georgia. Plus, it’s hard to not have a strong interest in the “War of Northern Aggression”, as a lot of folks around my neck of the woods like to call it, living so close to Chattanooga and Chickamauga…which was one of the bloodiest battles that was fought in the Civil War. However, it’s time to let the ghosts of that awful conflict rest in peace.
Republican officials are having an honest and frank discussion about the impact of keeping such a controversial symbol in a place of prominence. It’s a genuine discussion that needs to happen regardless of party, but it seems like some Democrats (and even some Republicans) are unsatisfied. Removal of the Confederate battle flag isn’t enough. There’s a push to scrub any semblance of the Confederacy from history. The rhetoric coming from Democrats sounds more like they’re trying to figure out where to move the goal posts so they don’t lose their talking point of “Republicans are a bunch of racists” for the next few election cycles.
The Civil War was a dark time in our nation’s history. Our history is just like us…it’s human history. It’s full of blemishes and scars just like we are. There are other dark times in our nation’s history like the forced removal of the Cherokee nation during President Andrew Jackson’s administration, the destruction left in the wake of General Sherman in his march through the South to the sea, the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.
Our history, both the good times and the bad times, are threads in our cultural tapestry. Those threads makes us who we are, and, hopefully, we can learn from the errors of our forefathers. How much scrubbing of history do we need to do? Do we rename the counties in Georgia that are named after people with Confederate ties, blast off the images on Stone Mountain, and remove every reference to the Confederate States of America? What will be “enough”? No matter how much we try, we can’t scrub away our history.
We shouldn’t ignore our history, but we shouldn’t ignore the feelings of our fellow citizens. I believe Republican leaders are trying to do the right thing. There will be resistance by some calling it capitulation and cries by others on how Republicans still “aren’t doing enough”, but at least it’s a step in the right direction.
It’s time for us to move past this controversial object.