Jones-DeWeever: Confederate flag removal — overdue and not enough

Columbia, South Carolina statehouse dome
Columbia, South Carolina statehouse dome

The removal of the Confederate flag at the South Carolina capitol grounds has been hotly debated since the June 17 massacre of nine people at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

But it’s not just South Carolina, five other Southern states have the Confederate symbol as part of its state flag: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia and Mississippi.

Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof is often pictured with Confederate flag.
Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof is often pictured with Confederate flag.

Supporters of the symbol contend it’s a tribute to the Civil War, while others see it as a symbol of state rights.

But to many Blacks, it’s a hate symbol, just like the swastika is to Jewish people. The alleged shooter in the Charleston killings reportedly regularly wore Confederate symbols on his clothing and proudly posed with the flag in photos.

“People for years and years — decades — [have been] talking about… how offensive that flag is” to Blacks, said Incite Unlimited President/CEO Avis Jones-DeWeever in a MSR phone interview.

Jones-DeWeever is a national scholar, writer, public speaker and syndicated radio host. “That particular flag…represents a history that [is] bathed in blood and oppression, and came about as a direct reaction to the Civil Rights movement [in the 1960’s],” she explained. “It was used as a symbol to rally around White supremacy and ‘state rights.’”

Dr. Avis A. Jones-DeWeever
Dr. Avis A. Jones-DeWeever

She criticized South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and other politicians who now are calling for the removal of the Confederate flag. “All of a sudden we are supposed to be grateful at a number of people who are coming around?” Jones-DeWeever said she suspects that Republican hopefuls are now “rallying” around removal of the flag with their eye on the 2016 presidential election.

“I see this as very calculating and a political move” by Republican hopefuls trying to win the White House next year, she said. “They understand that if they didn’t [support eliminating the flag], Democrats would beat them on the head with this from now until the general election.”

She also disagreed with some who argue that that getting rid of the Confederate flag will help create “a fair and just society.”

“This is just one of the many things that you need to do in order to break down all the barriers…of systemic racism,” concluded Jones-DeWeever. “Take down the flag! You should have done it years ago. Don’t think you deserve a cookie for doing that.”

Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to challman@spokesman-recorder.com.