The idea of taking down the Confederate battle flag was a conciliatory effort made to end divisiveness and disharmony, but has only sparked a new wave of intolerance by some who propose to rewrite or erase history and cloak South Carolina’s past and many of its people in a shroud of perpetual guilt.
The flag was hardly folded and put away before newspaper articles appeared hammering away at historic symbols.
One column chided those who honored the flag of a government that “protected slavery.” Another called for removal of the John C. Calhoun statue and renaming of Calhoun Street because he favored “treason in defense of slavery” and made derogatory statements about blacks.
Finding fault with symbols of the past could lead down a very slippery slope to which there could be no end.
Our state flag was created by the same General Assembly that joined the Confederacy. That flag symbolizes a 1776 battle in which South Carolinians were technically committing treason by rebelling against the legal authority of King George III.
The Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights were largely authored by Thomas Jefferson, John Rutledge, and James Madison, all slave owners, who helped create a country that protected slavery for 77 years.
The Constitution was not written to include women’s rights, and the Declaration of Independence includes a reference to “merciless Indian savages.”
The broad brush of past offensiveness could even include Abraham Lincoln, who was part of an Illinois legislature that in 1853 banned blacks from entering the state, and who told an Illinois audience in 1858 of his “natural disgust” at the thought of racial integration.
The outrage is exclusive to only one part of our history, however, as the white writer who claims Calhoun’s name and statue are “insulting to every black resident” ignores the fact that white residents might be offended by the Denmark Vesey statue in Hampton Park.
Vesey, a free black man, planned an 1822 slave rebellion that targeted men, women and children for murder. The plan was so hateful and bloodthirsty that other slaves turned him over to authorities, yet one of the writers who railed against Confederate symbols defended Vesey as fighting for “an American ideal, like free speech.”
No, murder is not free speech, and to justify what Vesey did while vilifying Calhoun is hypocrisy at best.
Similar attempts to demonize the past and impose a one-sided orthodoxy have shown their true intolerant nature — during the Reign of Terror after the French Revolution, at “re-education camps” in post-war Vietnam, and by ISIS terrorists throughout the Middle East today.
It does not belong here in America.
Oak Park Drive