One thing I've come to know is that you can't say you're from the South without automatically being linked to racism. It's a thing I hate, and it's, unfortunately, a thing that is almost completely legitimate. And it's not just racism, it's like all the "-ism"s. Or "-ist"s. And I don't want to switch this topic to sexual orientation, but I just want to point out that virtually all of the places that are acting like petulant children in regards to marriage equality are in the South.
Before I get to the issue of the Confederate flag, let's talk about why we're even talking about the Confederate flag: Dylann Roof.
Generally, I would not be one to talk about someone who has not been convicted of a crime as if he is guilty of the crime, but I think it's pretty safe to say that Roof is guilty of the nine murders at the church in Charleston, South Carolina. Actually, it's not even Roof I want to talk about. Roof stated quite plainly that he wanted to kill some black people, that he felt like it was up to him to do something about "it," whatever "it" was, and he went and did that. Even if they were so nice and welcoming to him that he almost changed his mind.
That Roof is a white supremacist and racist isn't in question.
What is in question is the racist tendencies of many people (Republican Presidential candidates) who responded to the attack by trying to call it something than what it actually was (a racially motivated mass shooting). So let's look at that:
Rick Perry, former governor of Texas and a Republican, called the shootings an "accident" and blamed the incident on drugs.
Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas and a Republican, basically blamed the victims and said the incident could have been prevented if only they had been armed. Because, yes, the answer is always more guns.
Rick Santorum, another Republican presidential hopeful, called the attack an attack against freedom of religion and Christianity and not motivated by anything to do with race. He's not the only conservative to espouse this view and to call for more pastors to arm themselves for the coming war against religious freedom.
Rand Paul, another Republican hoping to become President, also blames religion, but he blames it on a lack of religion. If only we, as a nation, weren't so heathen and doing things like having children out of wedlock, then poor Roof wouldn't have done what he did. He fails to mention racial issues at all and conveniently overlooks that it's in religion and church that we retain the greatest segregation in America. In other words, churches are the greatest breeding places of racial hatred in the US.
Lindsey Graham, another Republican presidential hopeful (does this sound familiar yet?), seemed to echo Santorum's theory by saying that Roof was just out to kill Christians. It was just coincidence that he happened to kill black ones. [BULLSHIT]
I could go on but, really, what's the point? It's all more of the same and all Republicans trying to divert the issue.
That's actually a good question that boils down to only one real answer: They are okay with the status quo.
Now, there could be any number of reasons they're okay with the status quo. For instance, maybe they think racism is too big of an issue, too hard to deal with, and, so, they would rather pretend that everything is okay than to look at the issue. Looking at the issue means you have to do something about it. Or, maybe, they're okay with it for no better reason than that they are okay with it. As in, nothing needs to be better because there shouldn't be racial equality to begin with.
I don't know these guys personally, so I'm not going to try to guess. However, when someone is running a white supremacist website, professes a dislike for black people, and states his intent to kill some, then, when he does that, it's almost certainly (you know, like 99.99%) a racially motivated crime. Occam's Razor and all of that. To try and change the dialogue afterward is, at best, irresponsible.
All of which brings us to the issue of the Confederate flag.
Look, I am all for the 1st Amendment. Seriously. I will defend your right to be a racist asshole and spew racist assholery as quickly as I will defend my right to call you a racist asshole for saying racist assholery, that includes your right to have your own Confederate flag on your own property. However, I cannot be behind a state government being allowed to fly a symbol of racist assholery over a state capitol building. There is no "heritage" that excuses the government for making any kind of statement that supports racial hatred, and, I'm sorry, but the Confederate flag is a symbol of racial hatred. Just ask the neo-Nazi movement in Germany, who use the Confederate flag as their symbol because Nazi symbology is illegal.
Somewhere in my schooling, I picked up that the Confederate flag is a bad thing. Being schooled in the South, I'm not quite sure where I picked that up. It certainly wasn't a thing they tried to teach us. If it was, the Confederate flag wouldn't be so prevalent. And, yes, I did grow up watching The Dukes of Hazard, but that's as close as I got to any ties to that flag (and I'm sorry John Schneider -- I know it cuts into your income stream -- but I agree with the pulling of your show from TV).
One of my cousins (on my dad's side) and I, during high school, had frequent arguments about the Civil War. He hated Lincoln and the "war of Northern aggression." That's what he always called it and tried to make it about "states' rights," but the only "right" that was in question was the "right" to have slaves. Point being? We went to school in the same city and we both came through it with radically divergent views.
It's time to move past the Confederate flag. Or, to put it another way, it's time to lay the Confederate flag to rest. It's time for the government, including each individual state government, to get behind "all men are created equal." We can never expect the citizens to start believing in that while the leaders are still claiming racial hatred, through flying the Confederate flag, as a "heritage."