The slayings of nine African Americans last week at the historic Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., by a gunman who expressed white supremacists ideals underscores the need for South Carolina to finally remove the Confederate battle flag from the grounds of the state Capitol.
But it won’t be easy. South Carolina was the first southern state to secede from the Union in 1861 in the dispute over slavery continuing in southern states. South Carolina also was where the first shots were fired in the Civil War at Fort Sumter.
South Carolina has stubbornly held on to “states rights” and the Confederate battle flag being a part of its history. But 21-year-old Dylann Roof, who is charged in the nine deaths, shows that some people will take that Confederate “history” too far in attempts to re-ignite that terrible war.
The country is long past that. The diversity in the U.S. is a beautiful thing, and the compassion people showed on Sunday at church services throughout the United States proves that mainstream America doesn’t buy into any horrible racist feelings that can lead to death and destruction. People were appalled and outraged by the massacre in the Charleston church.
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They expressed kindness and concern for the victims and their families and even forgiveness for the perpetrator.
The growing crowd of political candidates from both political parties running for president should take that openness and inclusion as a signal to now criticize South Carolina to get state officials to pull down the Confederate battle flag and put it in a museum, where it belongs. This is no time for any of them to be timid.
While they are at it, they should have the courage to start talks about the need for more gun control laws to prevent more mass shootings from happening. Anything less would be shameful, and voters need to pay attention to that.