On Wednesday evening, nine people were shot and killed at Emanuel AME, an historic black church in South Carolina. The alleged shooter, Dylann Roof, is white, and the Charleston police chief has stated he believes this was a hate crime.
This narrative was reinforced by a female survivor, who says the shooter told the group,
You rape our women and you're taking over our country. And you have to go.
Yet, in spite of all this, the Confederate flag was flying at full mast at the South Carolina statehouse on Thursday morning.
The confederate flag at the S.C. statehouse is not flying at half staff this AM (again via @WillWhitsonWIS) — Wesley Lowery (@WesleyLowery) June 18, 2015
So is the South Carolina State House flying the Confederate flag half-mast today or nah? pic.twitter.com/IgzqV5I4sa — Hayes Brown (@HayesBrown) June 18, 2015
This is exceptionally insulting and insensitive. The Confederate flag was a symbol of the pro-slavery American South during the Civil War.
Subsequently, it's been a symbol of white supremacy and racism, flaunted by such groups as the Ku Klux Klan, among others. Not to mention, the suspected shooter, Dylann Roof, can be seen posing in front of a car with license plates bearing the Confederate flag.
SUSPECT IN #CharlestonChurchShooting caught in Shelby, NC. He's believed to have killed 9 ppl last night at a church pic.twitter.com/EZOKHYjMcU — Megan Rivers (@MegMRivers) June 18, 2015
Interestingly enough, on Thursday, the Supreme Court ruled Texas didn't violate the First Amendment when it wouldn't allow specialty license plates with the Confederate flag, the New York Times reports.
Texas, which is rarely viewed as being particularly progressive, argued the flag is offensive.
In the past, South Carolina's governor, Nikki Haley, has argued there's nothing wrong with flying the Confederate flag.
Proponents of the Confederate flag argue it's a symbol of Southern heritage. That may be true, but the harsh reality is the South's heritage is full of dark chapters, which the Confederate flag is inherently tied to, like slavery, racism, Jim Crow, and white supremacy.
Accordingly, many have taken to Twitter to expose the utter hypocrisy of the state of South Carolina for continuing to brandish this offensive and racist emblem.
Some have no sympathy for a publicly grieving governor who refuses to take down the Confederate flag.
Her tears will not wash away racism. And neither will that confederate flag she so proudly allows to wave in SC. https://t.co/Q3h5UXnguo — deray mckesson (@deray) June 18, 2015
Others see the flag as condoning what happened at the church.
When you fly the confederate flag in your state capital you are sanctioning this terrorism. Just FYI. — roxane gay (@rgay) June 18, 2015
Beyond the historical implications, there's a political and social context to all this.
South Carolina still flies the confederate flag and is 1 of only 5 states without an official hate crime law. Yeah, this crime has context — Shaun King (@ShaunKing) June 18, 2015
Some have even compared the Confederate flag to the swastika, the symbol of Nazi Germany.
If the confederate flag represents harmless southern pride, then the Nazi flag symbolizes German pride... — Rania Khalek (@RaniaKhalek) June 18, 2015
Is it any wonder this tragic incident occurred in a state that unabashedly displays a racist symbol in its capital?
Cant make this up: S. Carolina governor who defends flying confederate flag at statehouse can't understand what motivates someone to do this — Yousef Munayyer (@YousefMunayyer) June 18, 2015
Symbols have palpable consequences.
"Every time I...see it fly, it hurts me," Ben White, on the Confederate flag at SC Capitol. #CharelstonShooting pic.twitter.com/dqs4gQAhD3 — Colin Daileda (@ColinDaileda) June 18, 2015
Flying the Confederate flag in the state capital undermines the government's legitimacy.
That awkward moment when SC officials prep press conferences about a racist attack on a black church, under a Confederate flag. — Joshua Stephens (@joshuacstephens) June 18, 2015
The war is over, the South lost, get over it.
150 years ago today at Appomattox, Robert E. Lee unveiled the Confederate flag's final design. pic.twitter.com/47NbFlxN3Z — Matt Ford (@fordm) April 9, 2015
It's time for the Confederate flag to go away, permanently.
If you own a Confederate flag t-shirt, bumper sticker, or anything because of "heritage," today's the day to wake up and throw it away. — Jesse Berney (@jesseberney) June 18, 2015
Citations: Supreme Court Says Texas Can Reject Confederate Flag License Plates (New York Times ), Nikki Haley Its OK to have the Confederate flag at the statehouse because not a single CEO has complained (Salon ), White supremacys gross symbol What the the stars and bars really represent and why (Salon ), Racists Ruined the Confederate Flag for Lynyrd Skynyrd (The Wire )