The Confederate flag has got to go

Jun 19, 2015 at 2:00 p.m. ET

The South, and specifically the South Carolina capital of Columbia, would have you believe the Confederate flag that flies there is nothing more than a symbol of Southern pride and heritage.

It’s not. The Confederate flag is a disgusting and racist symbol, and it needs to go. Not someday. Today. Now. This instant.

The flag was first created by Southerners who launched an insurrection against the rest of the country for the right to own slaves, a little historical event known as the Civil War. It was a pretty big deal. Later, after the war, the Confederate flag was adopted again by the Ku Klux Klan. You know, because of all their Southern pride.

The founding principle behind the Confederate flag and those who created it was "the Negro is not equal to the white man."

The "rebel" flag, as it's often called, isn't some Dukes of Hazzard General Lee throwback from the 1970s. The Confederate flag is a racist, white supremacist symbol and is raised by those who support that idea. There is no longer any room for debate on the matter.

The sight of the Confederate flag flying in Columbia and Charleston is especially galling considering just two days ago Dylann Roof, fueled by racist hate, killed nine black people as they worshipped in their Charleston church. Roof proudly sported Confederate plates on his car. This isn't some coincidence.

Defenders of the Confederate flag are staunch and took to the streets to fight for their right to fly the flag over the South Carolina capital when it was outlawed in 2000. They won, and it's still there today. Even after nine innocent people were murdered in the name of everything that flag stands for. Unbelievable.

The rest of us have to stop being polite about this and just rolling our eyes at backward Southerners who cry they want to remember their history. What they're honoring is a history filled with violent injustice heaped upon African-Americans that, even hundreds of years later, they’re still trying to fight their way out of. This isn't some quaint Cracker Barrel gift shop olden times deal we're talking about.

South Carolinians shouldn't want anything to do with the Confederate flag either. MoveOn has a petition to get South Carolina to remove the flag from all government spaces. And just in case anyone tries to defend this as a First Amendment thing, the Supreme Court just ruled Thursday that it's perfectly legal for the state of Texas to refuse to allow specialty Confederate license plates.

It seems particularly urgent for us as a nation to get crystal clear on where we stand on racial equality. Young black men are being incarcerated at unimaginable rates and murdered in streets by police across America. Black kids are being brutalized and harassed at pool parties, for heaven's sake. Racism is real and here today. And we need to do everything we can as a society to get this together. All of us.

Obliterating a rallying symbol for white supremacy once and for all seems like an easy and useful place to start. Maybe the South can find some other symbol to define themselves that is a little less racist and offensive to everyone else. Didn't KFC just reboot Colonel Sanders?

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