Gov’t repudiation of Confederacy needed

Following the S.C. shooting, various Confederate symbols across the nation are rejected.

Jasper Johnson

Discussions of race are once again at the forefront of American discourse, and the focus has been on the implications of Confederate symbols. The outcome seems to be the general rejection of Confederate symbols, ranging from flags to names. I view this as necessary. As a result of the shooting in Charleston and criticism that followed, South Carolina has removed the Confederate flag from its statehouse. The shooterâÄôs racism had led people to question whether the state government should fly a flag with racist ties. Far from being exclusive to the Deep South, however, governmental Confederate mementos even extend to Minneapolis. The name âÄúLake CalhounâÄù is likely a tribute to John Calhoun, one of the more outspoken supporters of slavery and an inspiration for secessionists of the Confederacy. Though he died before the Civil War, his opinions and works were used as justification for Confederate policies. Critics rightfully deride the lakeâÄôs name, and they have demanded a renaming. Bicyclists rallied against the name, and an online petition for a name change has more than 4,300 signatures. Such demands are not founded on claims of âÄúthat offends me,âÄù but rather on the role that a government should play when dealing with past repressive regimes. Rejection of Confederate associations is not a matter of censorship for fear of offense and political correctness. It is the rejection of ties to a treasonous enemy force that ripped this country apart, sought out foreign support in their violence and fought on abhorrent principals. To be clear, while I personally feel that the ideology and history tied to the Confederacy are horrendous, we should not infringe on peopleâÄôs individual freedoms. Freedom of speech or expression, thankfully, protects even offensive and controversial opinions. An individual can fly whatever hateful flag he or she wishes. However, if our government retains embarrassing ties to a rebel state that fought violently against it âÄî on the universally reprehensible grounds of pro-slavery, no less âÄî thatâÄôs a different matter entirely. Finally, the flagâÄôs connotations of violence and war are underscored by the fact that the most commonly known âÄúConfederate flagâÄù was never used as a national flag but as a battle flag of North Virginia. Indeed, the ConfederacyâÄôs acts led to an unimaginable amount of death and suffering. ItâÄôs absurd that support of the Confederacy or the Confederate flag is remotely acceptable in politics. How modern-day state governments like Minnesota can, in any way, align themselves with Confederate ideas is beyond me. The government of Minnesota needs to take a role in renaming Lake Calhoun, and other states need to similarly cast away their Confederate associations. Repudiation of Confederate symbols is necessary. We should pay no respect to the Confederacy or those involved with it. The U.S. government cannot honor those who used violent rebellion to continue human rights abuses and who attempted to destroy this country.