Friday, June 19, 2015

COMMENTARY: Take down the Confederate Flag

My first job was working for the State of Oklahoma's Government Information Service. I got asked a number of interesting questions. One, in particular, sticks in my mind today.  I will do my best to recreate the conversation as faithfully as I can:

Caller:  Do you know that the Confederate flag is flying over the State Capitol?
Me:  Yes, Ma'am, (reaching for a brochure I have on my desk) it's part of the Fourteen Flags Plaza.*
Caller:  I don't think that's right...
Me:  Ma'am, the plaza's there to show the fourteen flags which flew over Oklahoma prior to statehood. The Confederate flag is just one of them...
Caller:  Do you think that's right?
Me:  Ma'am, I can't give my opinion...
Caller:  But, do you think that's right?
Me:  If you're asking me if I approved of slavery, my answer is no.  If you're asking me if I believe we should display our history, I'd want to remind you about some of the other nations whose flags are flying in the plaza. The Cherokees, for example, had slaves. The Spanish had the Inquisition. The French royalty treated their peasants so badly....
Caller:  I think they should remove the Confederate flag.
Me:  Ma'am, if you believe that, you should talk to your State Representative and Senator. The state's certainly spending money to keep them up and you could make suggestions for that money's alternate use....

I've never been one to shirk the unpleasant aspects of history. I liked to think we'd come a long way. After Wednesday's shooting of nine Black congregants during a Bible study, I'm not so sure we have. 

No, I emphatically do not believe this was an attack on Christianity. The shooter's words before he started killing people were:  “I have to do it. You’re raping our women and taking over the country. You have to go.”

The Confederate flag, which the attacker firmly embraced, is not just a reminder of our dark and ugly past to some. In the attacker's eyes, it's a rally to race war.

And it's time to take every one of them down.

"Like the Nazi flag, the Confederate battle flag has come to symbolize to large portions of the public extremely destructive attempts to promote racism. And in both cases, extremists use them as the potent symbols of racism they are in order to rally like minded extremists. As such, it does not deserve to be flown over any public building in these United States." David Kinne

Please note the Fourteen Flags display was removed from the Oklahoma Capitol grounds in 1988. The Oklahoma State Fairgrounds still has the Fourteen Flags Plaza, which shows the fourteen flags:

Rebecca McFarland Kyle, June 2015