Confederate Flag Controversy a Complete Misdirect

Ben Shapiro
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Posted: Jun 24, 2015 12:01 AM
Confederate Flag Controversy a Complete Misdirect

Last week, evil racist terrorist Dylann Storm Roof shot nine innocent black members of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Before their bodies had cooled, President Obama attempted to blame the shootings on the National Rifle Association and lack of gun control; Hillary Clinton blamed the shootings on white supremacy and Donald Trump-like overheated rhetoric; Bill Maher blamed Fox News, and suggested that Fox News ought to be droned like al-Qaida propagandist Anwar Al-Awlaki.

Despite these divisive tactics, Americans united. There were no racial lines to grief: Thousands of blacks and whites marched in Charleston, packed the devastated church, mourned together.

But the American left could not stand such racial unity -- it threatens their cherished belief that America continues to represent racial oppression and white supremacy. And so the media and politicians on the left manufactured a racial controversy over the Confederate flag.

Now, there are plenty of excellent reasons to oppose the placement of the Confederate flag on state grounds: The Union won, as it should have; the Confederate battle flag originally represented a new nation founded on reverence for slavery, a deeply evil institution; the Confederate battle flag was utilized by Southern Democrats as a symbol of resistance to federal desegregation during the Jim Crow era. Blacks in America are absolutely right to feel offended by the flag.

By the same token, there are plenty of decent reasons for the Confederate battle flag to stay on longstanding state monuments: to remind viewers of the fact that evil and good live together in every human heart; to remind viewers of the fact that good people did sacrifice on behalf of their states' sovereignty, not merely to defend slavery (most of those who fought and died for the Confederacy did not hold slaves); as a symbol of Southern military heritage, given that the South has always been overrepresented in terms of its military service in the United States.

My own personal belief is that the flag should not be displayed on state grounds, but is perfectly appropriate for display at war memorials. A country and state willing to remove the Confederate flag do not need to do so; a country and state willing to acknowledge their legacy of slavery and racism need not discard their history or monuments acknowledging that history.

Having a national conversation about what to do with Confederate flags and war memorials raises interesting and vital issues. But that conversation has nothing to do with the shooting of black Americans in South Carolina. The left's implication that those who revere the Confederate flag are all budding Dylann Storm Roofs, or that they sympathize with Dylann Storm Roof, is nasty and unsupported by evidence.

It is, however, politically effective. The left's decision to politicize the South Carolina shootings by immediately swiveling to a longstanding racial controversy demonstrates their sick inability to allow America to move beyond racial divides. Every conservative in America called for Roof to fry. That wasn't enough for the left -- the same left that defends rioters in Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore and hero-worships Che Guevara and Mumia Abu Jamal. That left generated conflict because without racial conflict, it cannot survive as a viable political movement. And for the left, politics trumps American unity every time.