Ms. Haley, take down that flag

It’s been 10 days since the Emanuel A.M.E. church massacre and nine since the gunman, Dylann Roof, was captured.

This isn’t about Roof. He’ll be tried, found guilty and at the very bare minimum get life in prison, and then once he dies, what he did will be between him and God.

The big debate now is regarding the Confederate flag hanging over South Carolina’s statehouse.

Supporters of removal say the flag represents the slavery of then and racial inequality of now. Opponents of removal say the flag is historical and part of Southern culture, and to get rid of it will erase an important part of Southern history — particularly, states’ rights and wanting independence from the North.

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley has called for the flag to be taken down at the statehouse, while other states in the South that once flew it are removing the flags and busts on Confederate leaders from their statehouses.

Large retailers like Wal-Mart and Amazon are getting rid of all Confederate flag merchandise, and even Apple has deleted a Civil War app for having a Confederate flag in it.

Frankly, Apple deleting an app that is supposed to be portraying the Civil War — which the flag was a huge part of, the same way the American flag was important to the Union army — is a chicken move. I’d also argue that the proponents of removing the flag from Civil War reenactments also have it wrong. It’s history, and you can’t erase important parts of a battle that changed the course of a war.

But I will say that with the history of any object comes what it symbolizes to the people. In war, soldiers put a lot of emotion into their flags and how they represented the people and nation they were fighting for. Even in modern times, capturing the enemy’s flag is demoralizing to the other side.

Symbols can build something up to some and serve as a rallying cry, but it can also be used to alienate others and breed discrimination against them.

There is an ancient Sanskrit symbol that resembles a hooked cross. In English it means “good fortune” or “well-being.” The movements of the symbol represent the sun moving through the sky. Even today it’s a sacred symbol in Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Odinism.

But you would never see it prominently displayed in the United States on a government building or religious center, and you would certainly never see it in Europe. Guess what symbol I’ve just described.

Alright, everyone done guessing? Here’s your answer …

A swastika.

For a thousand years it was a lucky symbol of the sun. However, from my grandparents’ generation on, history will only remember it the way Hitler and the Nazi skinheads of the world have perverted it, to represent the annihilation of Jews and other “undesirables.”

Believe it or not, the the Civil War was not only about the moral issue of slavery. From what I have read, the Civil War was started over the South valuing states’ rights and wanting to do business in their own way. The Northern states overstepped bounds to curb commerce and trade in the South, which lead to the declaration of the Confederate States of America and separation from the Union.

(I know, kinda ruins the story of Abraham Lincoln wanting to free the slaves. In order to not ruin the image of the Lincoln statue at the courthouse, I will refrain from sharing a few of Lincoln’s quotes during a debate with Stephen Douglass.)

However, the Confederate flag didn’t stop flying after the war. Thanks to the Klu Klux Klan, it became the largest symbol of oppression against African-Americans and those the Klan didn’t perceived as being true, white, native-born Americans.

There is a reason why many black Americans are rightfully offended by the Confederate flag. There’s also a reason why fringe hate groups in America (KKK, neo-Nazis, the like) wave it so prominently.

Needless to say, I completely agree with South Carolina and the other states that are removing the Confederate flag from their buildings. Government at its best should only ensure that no citizens have their rights or safety infringed upon, and the central body of the state has a duty to act as an unbiased, neutral machine to ensure citizens can live their lives freely and without threat from a lunatic somewhere.

After all, in theory, elected officials are chosen to represent and work in the best interests of their constituents. Having a symbol that has been ruined by bigots prominently displayed at the statehouse during news conferences won’t help anyone.