Removing Confederate flag isn’t about pride, it’s about prejudice

No matter how much we as a nation would not care to admit it, the history of the United States of America is one that contains a lot of good and bad.

And there has been perhaps no worse chapter in the story of our country than the treatment of blacks as second-class citizens – from the time slavery was thriving in the South to the more recent backlash against those simply seeking their Constitutionally-granted equal rights during the Civil Rights Movement.

Frequently, as treatment of not only blacks but other minority groups has improved over time, the South has been among the places where that change has been the slowest in coming. To some, the display of the Confederate battle flag on the grounds of various state governments – under which the idea of whites owning blacks as property was defended during the Civil War – serves as a constant reminder of the way Southern blacks have been treated in the past.

It is for those very reasons that white supremacists – including the Ku Klux Klan and the man who recently murdered nine black members of a church congregation in Charleston, South Carolina – have adopted the flag as a symbol of power and intimidation.

We are sympathetic to those who view the flag merely as a representation of regional pride for those from the South and for those whose relatives fought and died supporting the Confederate cause.

But how would you feel if a government entity started flying the flag of Nazi Germany in the name of German pride?

For that reason, we must agree with the recent calls by Republican South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and officials from both major parties from other Southern states that the time for the Confederate flag to be flown on government-owned property has long since passed.

Removing the flag shouldn’t be done to demean those who take pride in being from the South. It should be done to avoid further demeaning those whose family members have suffered unspeakable atrocities simply because they refused to be treated as less than human.

We can’t erase the unflattering parts of our nation’s history. But we can avoid displaying an overt reminder of the ugliest time the U.S. has yet known.

If the South is to ever rise again, it must first show its citizens – all citizens – that they are viewed as equal by the government. And that can’t happen under the “stars and bars.”