Freedom of speech is one of the most important values a free society can have. In fact, without free speech, it’s not a free society. So, I think people should be able to hang the confederate flag in front of their own house, they should be able to wear it as a T-Shirt or have it as a beach blanket.
As John Oliver said, it helps the rest of us to identify the worst people in the world. He may have been overstating the case a bit. Those who display swastikas are worse.
I’m glad, though, that South Carolina has removed it from their statehouse grounds, and Alabama seems to be following suit. I am glad that Wal-Mart has agreed to stop selling Confederate flag merchandise, although I suspect that might just be temporary, and I’m glad Amazon did so, too, although it took a swift and voluminous public reaction to shame them into it.
Glad, but surprised. This seems too easy. Usually, the forces of the old guard put up a much stronger, bitterer, and stupider fight. What happened? Here are some of the possibilities.
A: The Republican opinion machine decided this was not a fight they could win, and spread the word to their internet minions to just let this one slide. After all, it’s not gun control, it’s not pharmaceuticals or pesticides, it’s not the prison industry.
B: This is just a tactical retreat. In a couple of weeks, after everybody’s forgotten about the Charleston church shooting, the flags will go back up and all the Southerners will crow “The South will rise again!” and claim there’s nothing racist at all about it.
C: A genuine attack of conscience. A lot of the people in the South are racist, but that doesn’t mean they would actually kill anybody. Maybe they were shocked that somebody did, and it was clear as day that ‘Southern Heritage’ was a big part of his mental make-up.
Call me naive if you like, but in this case I think it was actually C.