It occurred to me, while reading excerpts from Rep. Joseph H. Neal’s speech during the debate in the South Carolina House of Representatives over taking down the Confederate battle flag from the State grounds, that you can’t have it both ways.
If you’re going to talk about preserving your Southern heritage by keeping the Confederate battle flag flying on government property, then you have to acknowledge the crushing weight of the “heritage” of slavery.
If, like so many people do, you want to push that aside (“Slavery is in our past!” “Get over it!”), then you must push aside the romanticized history of Confederate soldiers fighting bravely for blahblahblahblah…
You can’t have it both ways. You must accept what that flag means TODAY – racism and ignorance. Willful ignorance of the truth, of historical fact, of the million human beings sold like so many bags of flour.
You want to talk about heritage? Rep. Neal spoke of heritage:
“My heritage is based on a group of people who were brought here in chains. Who were denigrated, demagogued, lynched and killed, denied a right to vote, denied the right to even have a family.”
“The whole world is asking if South Carolina is really going to change, or will it hold on to an ugly tradition of prejudice and discrimination and hide behind ‘heritage’ as an excuse for it.”
You can read more of Rep. Neal’s comments in Matt Pearce’s report for the LA Times: http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-south-carolina-representative-speech-20150709-story.html
I follow Matt Pearce, a national reporter for the Los Angeles Times, on Twitter: @MattDPearce