Bigotry and Ignorance on display

Liberals are captivated by ideology. Conservatives are captured by ignorance.

Far more African Americans than whites have a negative reaction to the Confederate flag (41% to 29%). Still, about as many blacks have no reaction (45%) as a negative reaction to the Confederate flag.

FACEbook only hired seven black people in latest diversity count

In the summer of 2008, I crossed the Mason Dixon line – as many other black people had done decades before me during the Great Migration – and moved to Chicago after graduating from high school.

For the first few weeks, I was euphoric. I felt like I could breathe and move in ways that had been unavailable to me in my Tennessee hometown – a place where I was made to think about my skin tone on a daily basis.

The north wasn’t the utopia I had imagined. It was instead strikingly similar in regards to racism – just without the accents and the flags.

…As the US hopefully begins to work to realize what the president points to, and Confederate flags begin to come down in Columbia, South Carolina, and maybe Mississippi, many of us will all begin to realize, like I did in 2008, that no matter where you live in the US, racism remains – even if the flags come down.

Times have changed. The Confederate battleflag that flies at the state capital of South Carolina should come down.

In 1964, when President Herbert Hoover died, my family lived in Georgia. Looking out the window at school, flags were flying at half mast, and I wondered why the battleflag was part of the Georgia state flag.

Growing up during the centennial of the Civil War, I read about the battles and generals. In my opinion, because I am not a racist (people deserve a chance), the flag in question represents American valor.

Thomas Bates 25 minutes ago

What a complete sideshow. I live in Charleston and blacks never mention the flag. Its just “not a thing” despite what the race baiters want you to believe.

As Malik Shabazz shouted in Marion square, he and his ilk will not be satisfied until every southerner is killed, their homes and monuments burned, and the earth salted where they stood.

There is no forgiveness on the left where political earnings can be made.

3:17 AM EDT

The Deep South is just full of a bunch of poorly educated, self-absorbed, self-righteous white trash….to defend a flag that represents just one thing a nation dedicated to continuing and preserving the enslavement of an entire race of people is SICK! But, you cares since most of these former slaves states have the highest level of child morality and the lowest level of education. To my knowledge not a single scientific invention of any significance has come out of the Deep South in the last 50 years no wonder!

We fought no better, perhaps, than they. We exhibited, perhaps, no higher individual qualities. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain

Like the Columbine shooters, the Newtown shooter, and the Aurora shooter, the Charleston shooter is a loser. His life was on a cruise to nowhere. He also is a coward.

Church killings ignite furor anew over S.C. Capitol’s Confederate flag

11:21 PM EST

In their study of Confederate symbols in the contemporary Southern United States, the Southern political scientists James Michael Martinez, William Donald Richardson, Ron McNinch-Su write: The battle flag was never adopted by the Confederate Congress, never flew over any state capitols during the Confederacy, and was never officially used by Confederate veterans’ groups. The flag probably would have been relegated to Civil War museums if it had not been resurrected by the resurgent KKK and used by Southern Dixiecrats during the 1948 presidential election. Southern historian Gordon Rhea further wrote in 2011 that: It is no accident that Confederate symbols have been the mainstay of white supremacist organizations, from the Ku Klux Klan to the skinheads. They did not appropriate the Confederate battle flag simply because it was pretty. They picked it because it was the flag of a nation dedicated to their ideals: ‘that the negro is not equal to the white man’. The Confederate flag, we are told, represents heritage, not hate. But why should we celebrate a heritage grounded in hate, a heritage whose self-avowed reason for existence was the exploitation and debasement of a sizable segment of its population?

11:22 PM EST

will be interesting after IA and NH to watch them have to answer definitively when they get to SC

11:19 PM EST

The Confederate battle flag is the flag of treason. It is the flag of racial bigotry. It’s display brands the person displaying it as a racist and an ignoramus. The only appropriate place for it to be flown is at Civil War battle reenactments, and NO PLACE ELSE, EVER.

11:21 PM EST

It represents 620,000 dead Americans. Shameful heritage

Arnold Bomber
11:22 PM EST

it celebrates millions of enslaved and tortured humans.

11:24 PM EST

How many of those 650,000 [Confederate dead?] were anti-United States of America? I wouldn’t call them Americans.

JCNatsfan [goober]
11:13 PM EST

how many rednecks in the deep south, who have a confederate flag and a shotgun in their truck and a cooler of pabst blue ribbon in a cooler in the bed and a toothless wife who they beat every night riding around saying Hayle Yea the South will rise again

11:15 PM EST

HEY, leave PBR out of this!-)

11:08 PM EST

Hillbillies longing for the days when they too could have been rich on the backs of black slaves.

In the mountainous regions of Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee, residents who owned no slaves, opposed the Confederacy. Typical ignorant bigotry – reflexive orthodoxy.

11:08 PM EST

The Republican Party represents ….Hate…Guns….Racism. Its a tragic fact! Why would anyone now vote for the Republican Party?

Why would anyone vote for Obama twice?

11:12 PM EST

I forget to add “Greed” [neo-liberalism] to define the Republican Party. Koch brothers equal Greed equal the Republican Party! Chilling fact!!!

Mr. Joe from Toledo
11:05 PM EST

Here’s a fun fact: Any US flag design, or any state flag design,that pre-dates the Emancipation Proclamation represents a nation or state where slavery was legal. The Betsy Ross flag (with the circle of stars) represents a nation where slavery was legal. Lots of people still fly that, especially on the 4th of July. New York was a slave state when it adopted its current state flag. So why do New Yorkers insists on celebrating their slave heritage by keeping that flag?

Rich Hanlon
11:07 PM EST

They didn’t commit treason.

Mr. Joe from Toledo
11:16 PM EST

Our founding fathers committed treason against England. Problem?

11:03 PM EST

You have a First Amendment right to fly the Confederate flag. You have a First Amendment right to show a Swastika. Fine. But you show who you are either way

11:01 PM EST

To paraphrase Ronald Reagan: “Nikki Haley, tear down that flag!”

10:58 PM EST

don’t know why/how anyone could be proud of flying that flag – you would think they would rather retire it to a museum somewhere like Florida did I mean, how humiliating must it be to be constantly reminded of how badly their sorry bunch of slave-owning confederate ancestors lost the civil war (or the “war of northern aggression – whatever)

Arnold Bomber
10:59 PM EST

it’s called the Civil War…and the south got smoked

11:01 PM EST

my point where’s Sherman when you need him?

10:48 PM EST

That doesn’t mean all Southerners are sadistic racists.

10:50 PM EST

No, but the lib-nuts here want both to draw conclusions about all Southerners based on this one, and to call anyone racists who draws conclusions about blacks based on their actions in Ferguson and Baltimore.

Dead: Anthony Hervey, a Mississippi man well-known in his community for his support of the Confederate flag, has died after a car crash before which a surviving passenger says they were chased by a car load of heckling young black men

I am a black South Carolinian. Here’s why I support the Confederate flag.

I hang the Confederate flag in my home. But that doesn’t mean it should fly over our statehouse.

Byron Thomas is a senior and student senator at the University of South Carolina, where he is majoring in public relations and political science

Four years ago, I became a national news story after I hung a Confederate flag in my dorm room window at the University of South Carolina Beaufort. Controversy wasn’t my intention. For me and many Southerners, the flag celebrates my heritage and regional pride. One of my ancestors, Benjamin Thomas, was a black Confederate cook, and I do not want to turn my back on his service to the South. So I hang the flag in honor of his hard work and dedication to South Carolina during the Civil War.

My Confederate flag isn’t racist; after all, I am black. I’m also an American who strongly believes in the constitutional right to free speech. I fought back against the university’s demand that I take my flag down simply because others view it as a symbol of racism. I fought back against the racist interpretation of the flag and I won.

Now there’s a similar debate about the Confederate flag that flies over South Carolina’s statehouse. In the wake of the Charleston church shooting and pictures of the accused killer posing with the Confederate flag, people have demanded the flag be permanently removed from the statehouse grounds. I

deeply respect and honor the nine people whose lives were lost in that church, who died with love in their hearts even though evil was among them. I felt that lowering the flag would give power to the racist terrorist who killed them. For a long time, it bothered me that every time someone raised the Confederate flag, someone else fought to have it removed. Racists hijacked the Confederate flag, and by effectively banning it on college campuses and government grounds, we would allow them to keep it.

But my perspective has changed. In her speech this week calling for state legislators to remove the flag from the statehouse grounds, Gov. Nikki Haley spoke of unity. She equally acknowledged the pain and the pride that the flag holds for South Carolinians. She noted how debate over the flag was hurting the state’s soul. “We are not going to allow this symbol to divide us any longer,” she said. “The fact that it causes pain to so many is enough to move it from the capitol grounds.”

I love the Confederate flag, but I love South Carolina and its citizens more. While the flag’s existence on the statehouse grounds never offended me — and it still does not today — I can’t ignore the deep pain that it causes for many people in my state. I can’t ignore that many can’t love South Carolina as I do until the flag is removed. Continuing to let it fly at our capitol could incite the kind of protests and violence that have erupted in other states that ignore the pain of some of its citizens. I don’t want to see fires, looting and violence in our streets simply because we refuse to let go of symbols of our past. That kind of demonstration would be out of line with the friendly and patriotic character of South Carolina.

Taking down the Confederate flag does not mean supporters of the flag have lost. It’s a message that we refuse to allow the people who use the flag as a symbol of hate to divide us.

We may never completely agree on whether the Confederate flag is a symbol of racism or pride, and whether the Civil War was fought primarily over slavery or state’s rights. But South Carolinians should turn their focus to what we do agree on: that we are citizens of the greatest country in the world and the most patriotic state in the nation. As such, just two banners should fly over our statehouse grounds: the South Carolina flag and the American flag.

Regardless of what happens at the statehouse, I will continue to hang the Confederate flag in my apartment. Because of that decision, I’ve been called “an Uncle Tom” and “a sellout,” and accused of despising my race. Let me be clear: I love the skin that I am in. God gave me my skin color, but he also gave me freedom to think for myself and the right to stand by my beliefs. My skin color should not determine how I think, what I believe and what flags I hang in my home. This process should teach us all to respect the beliefs of others. I hope those who view the Confederate flag as a symbol of hate will keep open minds to those who view it as a symbol of Southern heritage and history, regardless of their race.

11:48 PM EST

Black people can be just as misguided as White people. However, people who quickly cite the Constitution — often forget the rights they enjoy were payed for by the blood of others that didn’t agree. Trying to turn the Confederate flag or Nazi symbol into positive expression by acknowledging that not all Nazis were bad . . . or that a Negro served the south during the civil war is a false argument . . . no matter how persuasively stated. Historical killings . . . associated with the Confederate flag outweighs a single black man’s eccentricities.

6/24/2015 11:23 PM EST

A Black White supremacist. It was funny when Dave Chappelle did it. Byron Thomas not so much.

still here
6/24/2015 10:49 PM EST

It is heartwarming to hear about his ancestor, who cooked for the people who despised his race and put its people to slavery. It’s the kind of story that brightens up even an otherwise gloomy day. What a shame that things today are so very different from those past. sarc©

Warren Tenney
6/24/2015 11:29 PM EST

I bet this kid wishes the Confederacy had wont the war so he wouldn’t have to be bothered with this education thing.

6/24/2015 10:15 PM EST

Mr. Thomas, being the young black man that you are, I applaud your courage to publicize your position. However, some of your comments betray what I hope is simply youthful naivete. For example, you wrote “We may never completely agree on whether the Confederate flag is a symbol of racism or pride, and whether the Civil War was fought primarily over slavery or state’s rights.” I’d like to address that last point in your sentence. If you carefully study history, you should come to realize there is no “or” when it comes to slavery /state’s rights. Instead of “or”, it’s “and”. The two concepts were so intimately linked prior the the outbreak of the Civil War, that the term “state’s rights” was simply a euphemism, a code phrase if you will, for a southern state’s “right” to retain the institution of slavery. Think about it young man. Peace.

Carl Sandburg
6/24/2015 9:20 PM EDT

Wow, a thoughtful, considerate, and rational explanation: and still he is visited with hateful retorts, this time from blacks and whites, I suppose. Why must one interpretation of the symbolic meaning of the flag prevail at the exclusion of the other? Can’t we just have a multifaceted symbol?

6/25/2015 5:12 PM EDT

As a non-white person who has lived in Boston, Indiana, New York, Texas and South Carolina – I actually have experienced less racism in the South. When my car broke down in South Carolina, several white passers-by stopped to help me out and the white cop was very kind to me. While I did encounter some instances of racism in South Carolina, for the most part people were not racist. However, among white liberals in Upper West Side Manhattan and in Massachusetts I saw a lot more hypocrisy. They would talk about equality but they never really included “people of color” into their social spheres. They often talked with exaggerated care when socializing with me or other non-whites, which I found weird and condescending. In the South, for the most part, people were more “real”. Some of the liberals I knew who worked in Manhattan but commuted in from Connecticut lived in 98% white neighborhoods. They might have an Asian or two live there. I actually had a white guy I dated tell me that he could never marry me because I wasn’t white (so why did he date me?) whereas in the South, the white men I dated introduced me to their families and it was obvious that if things had worked out, we would have gotten married eventually. I did encounter racists in the South, but they were much more up front about it so it was easier for me to deal with. And most of the people I encountered in the South were not racists. All of us have opinions based on our experiences. Maybe your experience has been different from mine, and I respect that. But you might consider that this young man had experiences that are different from yours, and these are what form his opinion. We should respect those who disagree with us, not discount their experiences as invalid simply because they are different from our own.

The Confederate flag isn’t just offensive. It’s treasonous.

Sat Jun 27, 2015 7:56am EDT
For many black Americans, Confederate flag debate a distraction


Vanessa White poses with a photo of her brother Eric Tripp, who was shot and killed in the 1990s, in Compton, California June 26, 2015. REUTERS/JONATHAN ALCORN

As calls grow to remove the Confederate flag from public spaces across America’s South, Vanessa White says she questions whether that would mark real progress for black Americans like her.

The 57-year-old Compton, California construction worker has seen and endured too much, she says, to be excited. Over the years, five members of her family have been killed by guns: her two brothers, at the ages of 28 and 38; her nephew, at 19; her niece, at 16; and her niece’s mother, at 28. All of them had dropped out of school in their teens.

“We never felt like we were allowed near normal life,” said White, speaking from the tidy, two-story home she purchased last year in the struggling suburb south of Los Angeles.

Across the country, African Americans are applauding a fast-growing movement to remove the Confederate flag from public life after last week’s racially charged massacre of nine black worshipers in a Charleston church. But even many of those who support the effort suspect it will do little to address what they see as fundamental racial injustices – from mass incarceration of black men to a lack of economic and educational opportunities.

White’s view, she says, was shaped by exposure to racism as a child and also by a family she describes as dysfunctional. Her single mother was an alcoholic, and her brothers began committing crimes at an early age. She says she grew up never feeling like a real person because of her race.

“One day, when I was 16,” she recalls, “these little white kids chased after me screaming ‘nigger, get out of here!’ I never forgot that.”

In South Los Angeles, where police last year shot and killed Ezell Ford, a 25-year-old unarmed black man, residents interviewed by Reuters said that while they welcomed the prospect of the Civil War-era flag finally being purged from public grounds, they did not see its removal as a watershed moment for race in America.

“Black folks are still being killed; they are still being undereducated; they still have little access to health care,” said Melina Abdullah, an attorney who has helped organize community response to Ford’s killing. Taking down the Confederate flag, she says, will not solve “institutional racism and a police system that kills black people.”

Streams of statistics underscore those concerns: the average white family had about seven times the wealth of the average black family in 2013, according to the Urban Institute, a public policy think tank in Washington. Since the early 1970s, black unemployment has been consistently more than twice as high as white joblessness, government data show. And more than 27 percent of blacks live below the poverty line, compared to 13 percent of whites.


Both Abdullah and White see far more intractable problems facing African-Americans than the Confederate flag, including a justice system with an incarceration rate six times higher for black men and a high rate of gun violence in many neighborhoods. In the United States, blacks are more than twice as likely to die from gunshots as whites, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We can’t have this debate over the flag blind people to the larger struggle,” said Abdullah.

Still, for many African Americans, the movement to bring down the Confederate flag holds powerful symbolism, especially after Dylann Roof, 21, was charged with the June 17 shooting in Charleston. In the days following Roof’s arrest, photos were circulated showing the accused killer posing with the flag.

“That symbol, the flag, is hurtful for so many people of color. If you’re not a person of color, you might not understand that,” said Jerri Haslem, 51, who grew up in Birmingham, Alabama, and remembers as a child being called a racial slur by a boy wearing a Confederate T-shirt.

Defenders of the flag say it is a symbol of Southern pride and a tribute to the tens of thousands of Confederate soldiers killed in the 1861-65 Civil War. But many Americans, black and white, see it as a reminder that 11 Confederate states seceded from the union in order to preserve a system that enslaved blacks.

The flag still flies on the grounds of the state capitol in South Carolina, where the Civil War began, although the state’s Republican governor and other lawmakers now want it removed.


Mervyn Marcano has helped organized protests around the killing of Michael Brown, a black teenager gunned down by a white policeman in Ferguson, Missouri. He describes calls by politicians for the flag’s removal – particularly those of white lawmakers in South Carolina who never backed such a move previously – as a “cheap political branding opportunity”.

In Baltimore, too, where Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man died in the back of a police transport van in April, some activists worry that focusing on the flag pushes other important issues into the background.

“Taking down the flag does not improve the quality of life for black people,” said Dayvon Love, director of public policy for the Baltimore-based Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle.

The way forward, he said, is to build black civil organizations to educate and empower more people to advocate for laws and policy changes that will help black lives.

“To intellectualize the flag to a place where it is a major problem is frustrating when there is so much real work to be done,” Love said.

Glenn Martin knows the odds many black Americans face. Now 42, he grew up in the crime-ridden New York neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant in the 1980s and 1990s, a mixed-race child of a single black mother of three who was on welfare. He says he was subjected to racist taunts and insults by white colleagues at a series of jobs.

Eventually, he turned to crime, robbing stores at gunpoint, a life that led him in and out of the prison system. Eventually, in his thirties, he turned his life around and now works for JustLeadershipUSA, an advocacy group dedicated to cutting the U.S. prison population.

“For so many black lives, it’s a cycle of in and out of the welfare system and the jail system,” he said.

Asked whether the movement to bring down the Confederate flag will help, he was dismissive. “We are always looking for the easy way out rather than having difficult discussions about systematic racism.”

(Additional reporting by Harriet McLeod in Charleston and Wayne Hester in Birmingham. Editing by Jason Szep and Sue Horton)

About Jerry Frey

Born 1953. Vietnam Veteran. Graduated Ohio State 1980. Have 5 published books. In the Woods Before Dawn; Grandpa's Gone; Longstreet's Assault; Pioneer of Salvation; Three Quarter Cadillac
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