All of us who live in the Central Savannah River Area are so familiar with the periodic fights over the display of the Confederate Battle Flag on the grounds of the State House in Columbia that we can quote the arguments on both sides without a script.
The defenders of displaying of the battle flag argue energetically that the display is not racist or a symbol of hate, but merely a tribute to Southern heritage and to our ancestors who fought for the South. I understand this idea, because I know the regiments in which my great-grandfather and my great-great-uncle served.
But the protest at Augusta State University on Oct. 23 reveals that this argument is a sham. If the battle flag is just a symbol of our Southern heritage and not a symbol of racism and hate, where were its defenders Oct. 23 when the spokesmen of hate and ignorance from the Ku Klux Klan, dressed after the manner of Nazi thugs, surrounded themselves with battle flags while giving the Nazi salute? Where were the representatives of the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Sons of Confederate Veterans? Were they there, demanding that the Klan quit using the battle flag as a symbol of racism and hatred?
For a century and a half, we Southerners have sat quietly by and let the Confederate Flag be used as a symbol of racism and hatred. We have forfeited the right to complain when the rest of the world recognizes it as such.