Another uplifting image of our community in the wake of atrocity:
Despite sweltering heat, at least 10,000 people ascended the Ravenel on Sunday night to form a “Bridge to Peace Unity Chain.”
It was just one of the many heartwarming outpourings of shared grief, compassion, fellowship and resolve shown on assorted national networks since last week’s hate-triggered killings of nine good people at Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church.
Another negative image of our state:
Pat Hines, chairman of the S.C. League of the South, telling CNN’s “New Day” anchor Chris Cuomo on Monday morning from Spartanburg, “Without slavery, all the black people in the United States wouldn’t be here.”
In other words, American slavery — our country’s original sin — wasn’t all bad.
Only it was.
And what is still very bad is that kooks like Hines keep giving our state a bad name.
So does Dylann Roof, inaccurately dubbed the “Charleston shooter” in a CNN headline on Monday.
Whoa. Roof’s from Lexington, not Charleston.
At least Gov. Nikki Haley, in an impressive, downright inspiring announcement Monday where she was flanked by other S.C. political big shots, finally called for the Confederate flag’s removal from the Confederate memorial in front of the Statehouse.
Maybe, like me, you learned young to be proud of that flag.
Maybe you even remain at least a bit skeptical of Abraham Lincoln’s paradoxical quest to save “government of the people, by the people, for the people” by conquering an entire region of people who simply wanted to form their own nation.
Well, make that white people who wanted to form their own nation, the creation of which was largely motivated by zeal to preserve human bondage.
Still, maybe you, like me, take justified offense when Confederates, some of whom are your ancestors, are likened to Nazis.
From a column by Sally Jenkins in Sunday’s Washington Post: “The Confederate battle flag is an American swastika, the relic of traitors and totalitarians, symbol of a brutal regime, not a republic.”
And: “We will have truthfully reckoned with our racial history when high school and college students quit going to Heritage Balls wearing butternut military tunics and sashes and understand that Jeff Davis and Bobby Lee should have spent the rest of their natural lives in work camps, breaking rocks with shovels, instead of on their verandas — and the fact that they didn’t was a profound miscarriage.”
Jenkins’ mighty swift sword, er, words, ignore Lincoln’s second inaugural speech appeal for “malice toward none.”
Now much further back to another column, published more than eight years ago under the headline “Stop the Fight: Furl that banner.”
It warned that the 2000 compromise removing a Confederate flag from our Statehouse dome and putting another one “in your face” by the memorial couldn’t last.
From that column: “The flag is even more conspicuous down by the street than it was up on the dome. That’s not just a lousy deal for flag foes. It’s a lousy deal for flag supporters. It’s also a lousy deal for the many S.C. residents trying to stay out of this fight.
“And it’s a lousy deal for the more than 260,000 Southern soldiers who died during the Civil War, including the more than 20,000 from South Carolina and my great-great-grandfather from Georgia, fatally wounded at First Manassas.”
And, “Linking that flag to those brave men inevitably links them to the Ku Klux Klan, which long ago twisted that former symbol of battlefield gallantry against daunting odds into a debased symbol of bigotry-based terror. ... It’s no longer a question of if the flag will be removed. It’s a question of when. So furl that banner.”
OK, so that was from my much-belated recognition in print, on April 22, 2007, of not just good sense but good manners regarding the flag.
OK, so it’s not merely pompous to quote yourself. It’s lazy.
Then again, the told-you-so temptation, like the rising-tide demand for the flag’s exit, is irresistible.
As for the rapidly dwindling ranks of Statehouse-grounds-flag defenders, maybe your image of it still matches this epic scene from 1939’s “Gone With the Wind”:
The camera drifts up and away to show a wrenching panorama of countless Confederate wounded laid out on an Atlanta street, then finally focuses on a high-flying flag, still flapping defiantly in the wind to a mournful version of “Dixie.”
Yet heroic 19th century old times not forgotten in that great 20th century movie have been supplanted by ugly 21st century images of Confederate flags.
Those include photos of Roof holding a Confederate flag. In one, he’s also holding a handgun.
So for many Americans today, regardless of race, the sight of a Confederate flag doesn’t stir nostalgia for Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, Scarlett O’Hara, Ashley Wilkes or even Charlestonian Rhett Butler.
Instead, it reminds them of a racism-warped, reportedly confessed mass murderer.
And it makes them think — correctly — that the front of our Statehouse is no place for a Confederate flag.
Frank Wooten is assistant editor of The Post and Courier. His email is email@example.com.