- The Washington Times - Monday, June 22, 2015

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The vultures are circling.

As soon as it became clear that Dylann Storm Roof was going to be charged with killing people inside a house of worship, the cries went out.

Take down that dang Confederate flag that flies on the grounds of the South Carolina state capitol.

Some say it represents racist and bigoted attitudes that prevailed in our nation for hundreds of years. Others argue it represents not only American heritage, but their family ancestry.

I ask, what happens after the flag comes down?

Are racism and bigotry supposed to go poof?

Blacks and others were urged to boycott Super Bowl XXXIV in Atlanta in 2000 because the Georgia state flag at the time rendered its Confederate heritage, as the South battled itself on the gridiron. As would happen, Missouri defeated Tennessee — that is to say, the St. Louis Rams beat the Tennessee Titans.

The vultures, meanwhile, eventually forced a redesign of the Georgia flag, and attention then turned to Charleston, South Carolina.

Charleston is among the most gorgeous of American cities, exquisitely Southern and home to antebellum and postbellum charm. For lovers of Low Country history and cultural inquisitiveness, it’s practically unmatched among novices.

The history of slavery of blacks — particularly regarding the Geechee/Gullah people, who have inhabited lands from the waters of Wilmington, North Carolina, to the shores of Jacksonville, Florida — is an open book. Period.

Rep. Jim Clyburn, a member of the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Commission, said Sunday that the original compromise for the Confederate flag in South Carolina “was to put it on the back side of the statehouse, out of public view so it would not have any appearance of sovereignty.”

That’s what Mr. Clyburn, a Democrat and South Carolina’s senior member of Congress, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

It’s undeniable that the history and the heritage of South Carolina, rebel U.S. state of the first order, are intertwined. Period.

You cannot give true due to South Carolina and its history and heritage without marking the roles that blacks have played, as well as their history and heritage.

Mr. Roof, reportedly, doesn’t see things that way. He’s a hater — of blacks, Asians, Jews, and other folks who are not the same as he is.

Now, because of that, President Obama is slated to give the eulogy on Friday in Charleston for the pastor of Emanuel AME Church who was shot in cold blood with eight other blacks. The church itself was founded in 1816, when blacks and whites simply did not mingle culturally. Period.

The Rev. Clementa C. Pinckney would have been 42 years old in July, twice the age of his alleged killer. What a loss of the minister’s life.

Let’s hope the president doesn’t rehash the Civil War, or rehash the evil that men do. Let him call hatred by his real name — hate. Let him not try to turn racism and bigotry into hatred.

There are great expectations about Americans in general and humans in particular once the flag comes down.

That is why speaking truth to power, as the vultures circle, is critical.

Deborah Simmons can be reached at [email protected]


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