I would never argue to ban a flag. Not because there are any flags that I’m expecting to wave anytime soon, but because I believe in freedom of expression, even the freedom to express views that are misguided. However, there is a big difference between giving people the choice to wave their own flag and putting it up over a statehouse, where it carries the weight of law with it. I know there are some that say the Confederate Flag carries history and heritage with it, but if you look at that history it is troubling to say the least. Up above Ta-Nehisi Coates makes the argument that the Confederate Flag should be taken down, with the weight of history on his side. I picked Coates because I know that he has done a great deal of time studying the history of slavery, The Civil War, and the legacy of those times. I’ve read him long enough to know that he has done the heavy lifting, the research, on these questions. Anyone can spout their opinion, but Coates has long been interested in these very things. I’ve read enough history myself that, while I wouldn’t claim to be an expert on such things, Coates words ring true to me in that they stack up with the things that I have read.
Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t like culture wars for the sake of them and I don’t like acts of symbolism. I’d much rather know that racism was stamped out than to see a flag taken down. However, again the fact that this flag is hung up on a public building is what I find troubling. Taking the flag down in no way means that issues of institutional racism are stamped out. But at the same time flying a flag that has stood for institutional racism over an institution is a little strange, especially if you are one of those that claims there is no institutional racism. Taking it down is a symbol and a gesture and no more. It doesn’t solve anything in and of itself, but it at least says, “we’re working on it,” doesn’t it?
If you want to hang that flag on your house or put it as a bumper-sticker on your car, as they say in Deadwood, “That is between you and your god.” But I think, given what that flag has represented over the years, taking it down from government buildings is a pretty damn good idea.