Confederate Flags: Pride or Prejudice?
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
By Demi Demirkol
Byron Thomas is an African-American freshman at the University of South Carolina-Beaufort. Like many people in the south, Thomas believes the confederate flag is a symbol of Southern pride rather than racism. The controversy arose after he chose to display the flag in his college window and was told to remove the flag, a violation of racism codes on campus. Ultimately the decision was overruled by Doug Oblander, Vice-Chancellor of Student Development, who said, “It’s probably an infringement of his First Amendment rights.”
There are, however, some cases where the right to free speech must be limited. Among those reasons is hateful speech, and opposers believe that the confederate flag incites separatism and violent racism; it would be no different than displaying a swastika. Asking African Americans to wake up every morning to see a flag out of their dorm window that was used to dehumanize their entire race is unreasonable. By promoting a divisive symbol, those who flaunt the flag in public are rejecting the “new South” dynamic that emerged after the civil rights era, and thus take backwards steps in integration efforts.
Senior Jenna Lawhead said, “The KKK used it as their symbol, so I’ve always thought of it as racist and disrespectful.”
On the opposing side, some argue that the First Amendment is being annulled by political correctness. Senior Drew Duisen said, “It’s not our fault [the KKK used it as their symbol]. That is their doing, not mine.” It should be viewed as a representation of pride, and the negative connotation should be detatched.
Regardless, we have yet to see the day where the confederate flag holds no negative implication, and risking offending the community over simply wanting a materialistic depiction of southern superiority is ignorant and inconsiderate. There is a fine line between exercising free speech and exercising hateful speech.