- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 27, 2015

Charlie Daniels, a southern rock and country musician, said Friday that the Confederate flag was “a sign of defiance, a sign of pride,” and “opportunists” were trying to create a symbol of hate.

In his column for CNSNews, he wrote: “Far be it from me to advise the people of South Carolina or any other state as to what they should fly over their capitol buildings, or anywhere else in the state for that matter, but I truly hate to see the opportunists move in and create a symbol of hate out of a simple piece of cloth.”

Mr. Daniels, who was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in 2008, is known for his Southern rock, country and bluegrass songs as well as his No. 1 hit “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.”

He expressed his admiration for the people of Charleston and praised the victims of a recent fatal shooting as “salt of the earth folks, who not only professed to know Lord Jesus Christ, but lived their faith every day of their lives.”

Dylann Roof, 21, who is white, confessed to shooting nine black parishioners, including the pastor, at the historic Emanuel AME Church and has been charged with murder.

“Of course, the situation concerning the Confederate flag in Charleston is a much more serious situation with justifiable feelings that go back a century and a half, and the problem has the potential to be a racially divisive one,” Mr. Daniels said. “The bottom line is that the flag in question represents one thing to some people and another thing to others.”

Mr. Daniels emphasized in his column that he was against racism.

“I have no desire to reinstate the Confederacy. I oppose slavery as vehemently as any man, and I believe that every human being, regardless of the color of their skin, is just as valuable as I am and deserves the exact same rights and advantages as I do,” he said.

The Confederate flag remained a source of Southern pride because of the past relationship with the North, Mr. Daniels explained.

“I was born in 1936, a mere 71 years after the Civil War ended, when the South was looked upon by what seemed to be a majority of the Northern States as an inbred, backward, uneducated, slow-talking and slower-thinking people, with low morals and a propensity for incest,” he said.

Southerners bitterly resented the Northerners’ “attitude of superiority,” and so, “a somewhat fierce type of Southern pride came into being,” Mr. Daniels said.

“Unfortunately, the Confederate battle flag has been adopted by hate groups — and individuals like Dylann Roof — to supposedly represent them and their hateful view of the races. Please believe me when I say that, to the overwhelming majority of Southerners, the flag represents no such thing, but is simply a banner denoting an area of the nation and one’s pride in living there.”

• Maria Stainer can be reached at mstainer@washingtontimes.com.

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