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Removal of flag won't stop racial division; Citizens must stop self-segregation

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EDITOR'S NOTE: The following was sent in response to The Manning Times' poll earlier this morning asking about the debate over the Confederate Flag. We will be running a Soundoff column in this week's Manning Times. Send your opinion to editorial@manninglive.com. Pieces sent that are defamatory, profane or obscene will not be printed. If you think it’s time to remove the Confederate Flag from the grounds of the South Carolina State House and other places in the south that it is displayed, I will ask you, with an open mind, to read what I have to say. I am born and raised in the south. I have lived most of my life in the south. I have, on occasion, lived north of the Mason-Dixon line. I personally have never seen anyone I know fly the Confederate Flag out of hate, nor have I heard anuy of those speak of it as a symbol of hate. I have always viewed the flag as a symbol of southern heritage, paying honor to those who lost their lives fighting for their livelihood, fighting to keep their way of life as they were used to. However, I am not an ignorant person. I know and understand how the Confederate Flag can represent slavery in American history that was unpleasant and unfair. There was nothing good about slavery in the Americas. It was a different time, and different standards applied. White indentured servants were forced to leave their homelands and families behind as their owners relocated to the Americas. African slaves were bought, shipped and sold to the colonists of the Americas. Last in history, Chinese workers were shipped over and paid a slave’s wage to build our railroad lines, and Mexicans were hustled into agriculture migrant camps to tend our fields for a time, not much more than for room and board. All advanced countries – in that time period – have participated in slavery in one way or another. With that being said, let’s say we remove the Confederate Flags from all federal, state, county and city properties and put them in a museum. Will the problem be solved? I say it won’t. Here are a few things to ponder: This is America and the freedom of speech will never be vanquished. So, all those hate-based racist groups will just continue to sing their songs and wave whatever flags they choose to adopt to push their socially unacceptable agendas.

By removing the flag, you are saying it is not moral to glorify such things, so what shall we do with all the historical statues, tributes, placards, flags, monuments and markers that litter the landscape of this country from sea to shining sea? If a Confederate Flag represents slavery and hatred, what in the world does a larger-than-life monument for General Robert E. Lee say, or a statue of a senator that was known to be racist. I would think we would have to remove all historical statues, flags and tributes that are on display on federal, state, county or city lands to a museum. They all depict the history of this great land and how it has evolved. We are a melting pot of all races; I would assume that most of them upset one race or another in some way. They are all museum pieces displayed under the big blue sky; they are there to remind us of the lessons learned in the past, impossible feats we have overcome, mistakes to never make again. If we are to censor history, why not censor it all? Why not take it all down and stuff it in a museum? I myself do not care where the Confederate Flag is flown or not flown. What is important to me is for people to understand that, no matter what you do, or where you put things, people will continue to form their own opinions based on their beliefs. Nothing will change if you hide all the history. We learn by history not to make the same mistakes twice. If you truly want change, everyone must start with themselves. “The first and greatest victory is to conquer yourself; to be conquered by yourself is of all things most shameful and vile,” said Plato. My conclusion is every American has contributed to the racism in this country via self-segregation. When we self-segregate, we are silently contributing to racism to some extent. Without words of hate, without bad intentions, but by saying through choice, “I feel more comfortable in the presences of this group.” This applies to all races. All races self-segregate. If you want the racism to stop, you must first stop the self-segregation, which leads to a lack of understanding of any groups’ views and opinions of any other group. Where there is a lack of understanding, there is fear, and fear leads to violence.

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