A flag has never killed anyone

Tom Joyce

Pardon me for not jumping on the bandwagon.

The bandwagon I’m referring to is a now-overflowing conveyance filled with unenlightened folks who want to eradicate the Confederate flag and all traces of it from our existence.

While the legions of critics calling for the flag’s demise have made their opinions crystal-clear of late — including demanding that it be removed from the South Carolina Statehouse in Columbia — something that’s much murkier is how we got to this point.

One day, the nation is rightfully mourning the tragic shooting deaths of nine people at a historically black church in Charleston, and the next day there is a feeding frenzy to do away with the Confederate flag.

Naturally, a terrible event such as the church massacre makes people want to lash out, and the feelings of hurt, anger and outrage are perfectly understandable.

The question I have is how the connection between the killings and the Confederate flag came about, in terms of somehow holding that banner and its supporters responsible for the deaths.

It is true that the accused shooter, Dylann Storm Roof, was pictured with the flag on a website and also had a Confederate license plate.

Therefore, the banner itself and anything and everything associated with it — including statues of Southern generals of the Civil War and related objects — must be guilty, too, right?


This kind of thinking is akin to holding everyone who is a follower of Islam responsible for the 9/11 attacks, or the most recent beheadings and other atrocities committed by the Islamic State (aka ISIS or ISIL). Of course, it would be a travesty to shut down mosques across America, or outlaw all symbols associated with Muslims, because of the actions of radical or jihadist (holy war) factions of their faith.

Yet somehow we are doing that with elements of the Confederacy which simply celebrate a heritage rather than spreading hate and violence. Those who don’t understand the heritage aspect owe it to themselves to do some research.

People who have resented that flag for years, and been unsuccessful in getting it abolished, obviously saw an opportunity with the Charleston deaths, where past measures such as tourism boycotts of South Carolina have failed. It is sad — not to mention deplorable — that flag opponents have come out of the woodwork seeking to capitalize on the killing of nine innocent people to further their political agenda.

Gun-control advocates also are exploiting the tragedy to rekindle that debate.

In effect, going off on these political tangents has supplanted the grief period that should have been afforded to the victims’ families by the nation in the aftermath of the tragedy.

Along with being an injustice to those folks, the condemnation of the Confederate flag is unfair because it leads the American public to believe it is directly to blame for the actions of a madman. Again, we don’t hold the entire Islamic faith accountable for the misdeeds of its violent members.

Apparently, this supposed connection between the Charleston shootings and the Confederate flag is rooted in racism associated with the Civil War, specifically the role slavery played in that struggle.

If this is the case, then Abraham Lincoln deserves the same treatment by those who are criticizing the flag, including removing his image from U.S. currency.

Lincoln made his opinions quite clear in an 1862 letter to newspaper editor Horace Greeley in the early stages of the War Between the States:

“My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or destroy slavery,” Lincoln wrote. “If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would also do that.”

Lincoln also refused to admit blacks to the Northern army at first because he questioned their abilities as soldiers.

Anyone who doubts these and related supporting facts is free to do some research on their own — through the use of objects called “books” — rather than basing their body of knowledge on television sound bites.

But I suppose those who seek to rip down Confederate flags also would favor rewriting the history books to remove such inconvenient truths.

And it doesn’t end with the flag, as there now also are calls to remove statues and outlaw Confederate license plates, etc.

This reminds me of what occurred in Nazi Germany when attempts were made to destroy anyone and anything Jewish.

Tom Joyce is staff writer for The Mount Airy News. He may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.

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