Against: Rebel flag insensitive amid racial tensions
Following the assassination of nine black men and women at a historic church in Charleston, South Carolina, in what evidently appears to have been a racially motivated hate crime, a great debate over whether or not the Confederate flag should be flown has ensued across the nation.
The suspected shooter, 21-year-old Dylann Roof, had previously identified himself as a reborn white nationalist in an online manifesto containing other racist ideologies. In addition to the 2,400-word manifesto, investigators also found photos of Roof posing with the Confederate flag.
As a journalist, I've felt very conflicted in forming a personal stance regarding what the legality of the Confederate flag should be. While I don't personally identify with the flag, nor believe that anyone with solid moral values should, it somehow seems wrong and hypocritical to limit anyone's right to free speech when that is precisely what I am building my career on, and a right I most strongly believe in.
However, as a journalist, I've also been trained to interpret meaning from situation by adding meaningful context. In a time when our country arguably stands the most racially divided it has been since the Civil Rights Movement, a great majority of Americans still proclaim in ignorant bliss that racism is not an issue of concern in our modern society. I do not believe the Confederate flag should be flown by any means.
Not only is it a symbol of ignorance that perpetuates the notion that race relations are not a problem in our country, at a time of such high tension, I would even go as far as saying that it is an act that incites violence, which as we know, is not a protected form of free speech.
If I have to pick a side, which I ultimately do, I would much rather stand on the side of those working to outlaw the flag than those attempting to protect a symbol of white supremacy — an effort that is currently being spearheaded in South Carolina by the Ku Klux Klan, an officially identified hate group. It's an interesting fact for those who may try to say the Confederate flag is not a symbol equated with racism.
Now, I'm not saying that every proponent of the Confederate flag flies it in an intentionally radical display of white supremacy. In fact, I think some people just don't know any better. For some reason — most likely ignorance — supporters of the Confederate flag turn a blind eye to the inherent connection that lies between the rebel flag and the oppression of thousands of minority Americans. These people see it as a simple display of their heritage and proud southern roots.
But the connotation and intrinsic meaning of the Confederate flag goes way beyond that. Let's not forget that the flag ultimately alludes to the plight of a great majority of our nation's people who, to this day, continue to struggle against racial discrimination. And by flying the Confederate flag, not only are you inciting violence and displaying harsh ignorance, you are also associating your proud heritage with a time I think most Americans would agree is a painful and regretful stain on our country's history.
I can confidently say that a majority of Americans would be quick to proclaim they would have never stood with the racial injustice that occurred under the Confederate flag in its day. And now, we have all been granted an opportunity to display that stance. So by all means, let's act with a bit of delicacy and modesty.
In a time when our country stands more politically polarized and racially divided than in past decades, it seems as though the simplest, yet most significant thing we can do as proud Americans is at least stand under one flag.
Daniela Marin is the Entertainment Coordinator for the Central Florida Future.