The alleged Charleston shooter's apparent embrace of the Confederate flag has renewed calls for South Carolina to take down the one at the State House grounds in Columbia, where it flies above a monument to Confederate soldiers (and which hasn’t been at half-staff, despite the nine people dead, for legal reasons). At The Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates writes:
Moral cowardice requires choice and action. It demands that its adherents repeatedly look away, that they favor the fanciful over the plain, myth over history, the dream over the real. Here is another choice.
Take down the flag. Take it down now.
Put it in a museum. Inscribe beneath it the years 1861-2015. Move forward. Abandon this charlatanism. Drive out this cult of death and chains. Save your lovely souls. Move forward. Do it now.
That has been a popular liberal position for years. But this week's church massacre has inspired a few conservative writers to follow suit. In the Washington Examiner, Philip Klein argues that “conservatives should hate the Confederate flag”:
The invocation of "states rights" among those waving the Confederate flag while fighting for the evils of slavery and segregation has been devastating to the cause of limited government.
Not only were the institutions themselves an affront to liberty, but in fighting to defeat the institutions, the federal government claimed more power….
The Confederacy was formed to preserve and expand the brutal institution of slavery, and then its proponents subsequently tried to disguise their motivations in lofty language about states' rights.
Reihan Salam at the National Review also argues in favor of taking down the flag, citing another reason: the use of the flag as a symbol by Southern white segregationists in the 1950s and '60s.
[I]t could be that the Confederate battle flag has come to mean something entirely different in 2015 than it did in the mid-1950s… But is its value such that we ought to continue giving it quasi-official status, even when doing so alienates the descendants of enslaved southerners, who have just as much claim to deciding which symbols ought to represent southern heritage as the descendants of Confederate veterans? I don’t believe so.
Of course, not everyone on the right is ready to take the flag down. South Carolina Senator and presidential candidate Lindsey Graham, speaking on Friday on CNN, said "it's time for people in South Carolina to revisit that decision," but added that "this is part of who we are."
Yes—but not a part worth celebrating.