By Abdul Hakim-Shabazz
Abdul Hakim-Shabazz is an attorney and the editor and publisher of IndyPoltics.Org.
For reasons that should seem pretty obvious, I have never been a big fan of the Confederate flag.
And after last month’s massacre in Charleston, SC, I am even less of fan.
Now before we go any further, let me make it clear: I do not think the Confederate flag should be banned. I have this thing for free speech and in order for it to work, speech that I don’t agree with has to be protected – absent libel, slander and putting someone’s life in danger (i.e., falsely yelling fire in a crowded theater). However, there is a difference between you expressing your right to be an idiot and the government doing it.
This is why although I am not from South Carolina, for which I thank God for everyday, I had to give their legislature and Gov. Nikki Haley credit for voting to remove the flag from state grounds and put it in a museum where it belongs with other relics of eras gone by, hopefully never to return.
Looking at the history of the Confederate flag, for all the talk about “southern heritage,” a lot of it really is about slavery and segregation. Sorry but it is. In fact, the original Confederate flag looked nothing like what we see on the roof of the General Lee.
From most of the research I did over the weekend, the flag’s resurgence in the modern era was more about the “Dixiecrats” (Southern Democrats) rebelling against President Harry Truman’s orders to desegregate the military and his support of bills that supported the radical idea of prohibiting the lynching of black people.
And even if you want to go the “states’ rights” argument, with respect to South Carolina, its motivation behind succession had a lot more to do with the right to own slaves than some folks might feel comfortable with. Just read the Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina.
As one writer for The Atlantic put it, “It glossed over states’ rights. It did not mention the tariff. South Carolina was seceding, it explained, due to the ‘increasing hostility on the part of the non-slaveholding States to the institution of slavery,’ and the election of a president who believed ‘that slavery is in the course of ultimate extinction.’” Yeah, this sounds like something I want to rally behind.
Like I said, I believe in free speech, even with the speech I don’t agree with. And if you want pretend you’re one of the Dukes of Hazzard and drive around in the General Lee, fine. If you want to put on your Confederate flag boxer briefs, take selfies and post them on the Internet, go right ahead. Just don’t be shocked when people start posting captions that the South won’t rise again. That is you, acting as a private citizen and a moron.
However, when it comes to the government, that’s a different thing. The Confederate flag does not belong flying atop a state capitol or on any state grounds for that matter. If anything it belongs in museum – because a museum is the perfect place for us to be reminded of the mistakes of the past so we don’t repeat them in the future.
But if you want to sport feel free. I support your first amendment right to do so. In fact, I encourage it. That way I can spot you in a crowd and immediately make fun of you. And I’m not just whistling Dixie either.
Abdul is an attorney and the editor and publisher of IndyPoltics.Org. He is also a frequent contributor to numerous Indiana media outlets. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.