Southern Confederate Flag: the Case for Racial Harmony and Permanent Peace in the Homeland?

Keywords or Terms: Racial Harmony; Confederate Flag; Generational Divide; American Civil War (1861-1865); Innocent Blood of Citizens; African Episcopal Methodist Church, Charleston, South Carolina; Southern Governors; Amazon.Com; and, Wall-Mart; eBay

The next phase of America’s development and advancement has very little to do with the expansion of World Wide Web or Internet commerce, or space exploration. Neither does it have to do with a legislatively productive and stable US Congress; although that would be helpful. Further, the next phase of the development and advancement has much less to do with newer markets’ penetration in Asia, Africa or Europe; and or, combating international terrorism; although those would be helpful in advancing America’s hegemony and softening the burden of the huge national deficit.

The next phase – ensuring that all races of citizens in the democracy are welcomed and feel part of the holistic experiment – calls for retirement of not only the confederate flag but also, old prejudices inherent in the socio-economic and political arrangement of the democracy, including endemic issues of disaggregation, unequal treatment of races, particularly attitudes and insensitivity to the problem of racism and associated claim to historical dominance of one race over the other(s). These handicaps and shortcomings are hardly tenable in the twenty-first century.

The interpretation of events surrounding resolution of America’s Civil War and the moral imperative of continuous flying of the confederate flag have greatly impacted race relations and encouraged some rather unwholesome behavior and or altercations that are reprehensible at a minimum. It isn’t the issues of freedom of speech, the right to bear arms, the right of equal representation; or right to life, liberty or pursuit of happiness that will make this country a much mature and viable democracy; it is the nation’s ability to look at itself intermittently in the mirror and reflect: is the current dispensation the America we all want? Is this the America we want with the level of racial tension and gun violence? Is this the America of promise, with all social injustices and suspicions among the races? Is this the utopia once hopefully conceived by the forefathers in 1776?

The crisis of distrust or mistrust generated by the slaying of innocent blood in a Church’s basement last week has yielded bitter debates and generated a new geopolitical and historical understanding of the main reason of America’s civil war of 1861-1865. The challenge of reconstruction years subsequent to the end of the war seems now to be a piece of cake when compared to needed attitudinal reconstruction of the people. Since the end of the civil war, the democracy continues to experience aftermath ripple effect of the nation’s worst sin; and to some extent, it seems the wages of the sins are undoing the peace between the two major races.

Notwithstanding, we can all agree that the opportunities that this great democracy has created and offered, probably far outstrips the expectations of men and women who fought in the civil war; and or, those of succeeding immigrants to American shores. In almost every sphere of American life, you see dynamic transformation that indicate wide strides being made in commerce and international relations; however what is absent, is genuine trust among the races within the geographical demarcation, USA that all are on equal footing regarding socio-economic-political arrangement, and or rewards, of the democracy. For example, it isn’t only the disparate interpretations of events that led to the American civil war or the call for retirement of the confederate flag on many States’ Capitol that is so telling; it is the insensitivity among many citizens, rightly or wrongly, that compounds the issue of racial harmony; and this, by many objective observers, is a crucible of confliction that may torpedo the hornets’ nest if everyone does not take the time to learn from the experiences of history.

The historical experiences of the civil war and its divisive interpretation between Whites and Blacks, have made the justification or non-justification of modern day mayhem as the slaying of nine citizens at the African Episcopal Methodist Church, Charleston, South Carolina, a difficult understanding to a claim of a freer and fairer American Democracy. Many Southern Whites and mostly prejudicial Whites across the nation, interpret the civil war and associated paraphernalia, including the confederate flag as symbols of regional heritage; blacks all over the nation with a few exception, interpret them as shameful emblems of the nation’s most grievous sins. It is hard enough tackling the challenges of the widening gap between the rich and poor or the oscillating national unemployment rate, it is even harder to deal with mistrust among the races; an issue that may make a mature and patriotic citizenry, difficult in a thriving democracy.

One may admonish collective national agreement over combating international terrorism and how to organize state security apparatus so that everyone within the borders of the nation feel a sense of safety and security. Further, one may subscribe to multilayered security strategies to combat international terrorism to make the homeland safe. By concurrently exploring a broad range of strategists to fight ISIS, the nation can actually vouchsafe for itself, offensive capabilities that could undermine groups bent on destroying it from outside. However, when the nation finds itself in throes where the issue of combating international terrorism is becoming secondary to domestic terrorism and hate crimes, then the nation has a huge issue at hand. When the nation is recording more deaths among its citizenry from expanding domestic terrorism and hate groups than the number of deaths from international terrorism, it is about time the nation begins to see things in appropriate context and put things in proper perspective.

With minorities, especially blacks, believing they are discriminately or inappropriately treated in the socio-economic-political arrangement, the nation is finding itself revisiting old wounds and wondering, if it was not time to put to rest, many divisive issues, starting first with the retirement of the confederate flag in some of the Southern States’ Capitol. Further, many minorities, not only blacks, believe the current socio-economic and political arrangement is skewed against them. American minorities are convinced they are hardly treated on equal footing, or with an even hand, with the majority in the society. For them, they are either scapegoated as different or mistreated and construed as outsiders, an enemy within. Apart from last week's Killings in a Church, the recent mass murder of Muslim College students in North Carolina and Asians in a Wisconsin Sheik’s Temple are examples in point, where minorities feel so much that they are being treated as outsiders in a country they only know and call home.

Just as America has retained its balance of payment deficits regime while the whole world has moved to a floating exchange rate system in international commerce, so also has America retained its racial prejudicial patterns as the world moved to recognition of multiculturalism. America has extensive international commitment to militarism across the globe, to people and nations they can hardly locate on the map or pronounce a word in their language; yet, lacks the will to recognize the continuous flagrant discrimination against minorities and or their contributions within the borders. Many politicians who should know better, or ought to know better, fan racial hatred and maintain institutions of racial divides within their states or political influences, yet call for harmony among the citizens. Profound and volatile restlessness and anxiety remain among blacks, and probably other minorities; however, mainstream America insists mistrust among the racial composition of the nation is unfounded. If this course is not averted, it must be understood that the road to racial harmony is going to be a steep one; and hardly will any leader be able to overcome the threats of the mistrusts and the intermittent upheavals that surround them.

The fact that hitherto staunch Southern Governors are calling for old symbol of prejudices be retired, with Governor of Alabama ordering the removal of the confederate flag from the State Capitol and Governor of South Carolina saying the time to bring the flag down in her state capitol is ripe, the usual divide between generations, is still obvious regarding issues of racism, not only the confederate flag. While former Presidential candidate Mitt Romney is saying that the Confederate flag is offensive to some Americans, another older Southern Republican Governor,  Haley Barbour, is quoted as saying he is not offended by the Confederate flag, on an MSNBC-TV interview. There are other governors working to bring about long-term harmony among the races of the nation, with some showing inclination to retire licenses plates and probably old insignia with confederate flag; however, the choice in attitude towards racial harmony is still at an individual level. Yes, Wal-Mart, Amazon.com and eBay may be charting the course for racial harmony for economic reasons; Pastors and lay readers may be working hard for racial harmony because of their religious convictions, it still behooves the citizens to chart a new attitude or course for this long-standing challenge. The adjustments needed to bring about better harmony  between races cannot be attained with a wound from politicians, religious leaders and businesses, but must also involve a new orientation towards a better beginning within ourselves.

There are few alternatives: the nation may continue to identify with the current prejudicial attitude towards its minorities and inevitably reap the reward of destructive consequences or chart a new course of light that will afford for a much peaceful, fairer and equal society. Further, it is very well incontestable that the nation has the potential to reach a more equal society, an egalitarian society, or one with lesser hate crimes; it is also undebatable, that issues that divide the races as we speak, are manmade and as such, can be resolved by man. Can America have the will to do what is right?
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