Mark Figley: Stop blaming Confederate flag

Mark Figley - Contributing Columnist

Mark Figley

Contributing Columnist

Never let a tragedy go to waste. At least that’s what many on the left repeatedly show us.

The examples are simply too numerous to catalogue, but include Ferguson, Baltimore and now Charleston, South Carolina, after evil incarnate Dylann Roof methodically shot down nine innocent Bible-studiers at a church while coldly sitting in with them just before his heinous act.

After the unspeakable news was reported, the killer’s checkered past was soon revealed: Instances of lawless behavior, sleeping in his car, mental health issues and a litany of racial animus toward blacks.

Then a photograph was discovered of Roof with a Confederate battle flag. This symbol, long despised by many as a sordid reminder of slavery and Jim Crow intimidation, quickly took on a life of its own, seemingly surpassing the killer’s horrendous act.

Calls quickly followed to remove the Confederate battle flag from South Carolina’s statehouse grounds. The debate has since expanded to other Southern states’ usage of Confederate symbols and images.

Assorted members of Congress have called for a “cleansing” of 10 statues honoring Confederate heroes contained in the U.S. Capitol’s Statuary Hall. They include Confederate Vice President Alexander Stevens, Gen. Robert E. Lee and Confederate President Jefferson Davis.

Republican lawmakers have also promised to consider banning any state flag containing the Confederate symbol from the House portion of Capitol Hill.

The frenzy has also taken other forms.

In Richmond, Virginia, a Jefferson Davis monument was vandalized with spray paint. Other monuments to the Confederacy have been damaged across Southern states amidst calls from officials to remove them from public view.

Meanwhile, retailers have also pledged to stop the sale of items bearing the Confederate flag. EBay, Wal-Mart, Sears and Amazon have led the way. Other retailers have also removed the flags from their shelves after announcing they will no longer carry such items.

While many see this as the long-overdue elimination of a hateful and insensitive symbol, such icons are everywhere. And arguably, it is much less offensive than items bearing the Nazi swastika, which continue to be readily available for purchase on the Internet and elsewhere.

Suddenly a simple flag, held dear by so many in the South who view it as a symbol of respect to their ancestors who died for a noble cause, is now to blame for the deaths of nine defenseless souls in Charleston. Not because it is truly racist, but because it is a convenient means that those on the left can use to paint Republicans, conservatives and Southerners as hate-filled.

Not coincidentally, it also comes at a time when the GOP seeks to put forward a presidential candidate for 2016. What better way to put candidates on the defensive?

Sadly, this issue speaks more about politics than it does about genuine concern for the victims’ families.

What could make a man like Louis Farrakhan go so far as to demand that the American flag also be torn down? Especially when such calls do nothing to lessen the pain felt by the residents of Charleston, who have exhibited exceptional class and dignity during such a difficult time.

His outrageous call serves one purpose: To keep the pot of racial division hot and stirred up; something those on the left can always be counted on to resort to at a moment’s notice instead of condemning such outrage.

In truth, the Confederate flag has never killed anyone, nor did it lead Dylann Roof to commit his mayhem. Evil people have always committed evil acts on their own. And pathetic attempts at political diversion will sadly never change this fact.

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