The removal of the "rebel flag from the statehouse grounds of Columbia, SC was long overdue.
Debate Rounds (3)
The most simple reason for removal of the flag is that there is no reason not to remove it. The main reason for having the flag on the grounds at all is that it is somehow an integral part of what it means to be a South Carolinian. In someways this is true because for a significant period of the state's history many people identified with the flag because it represented a return to traditional southern values including patriarchy and white supremacy.
The reason why is easy to explain. The "stars and bars" which has come to be known by the pseudonym of the "rebel flag" was a battle flag used by the confederacy. However it is worth pointing out that there were MANY MANY battleflags used by the confederacy because in addition to the wide ranging use fo the "bonnie blue" each state also had a unique battleflag. The "stars and bars" while clearly thematicly employed in the South Carolina battleflag is quite different from it. So if it's not because of the civil war then why do South Carolinians love the "rebel flag" so much?
The answere is 3 names assigned to one man, Nathan Bedford Forest. Forest served as an elite military leader during the civil war on the side of the confederacy. He was widely respected for hsi uncanny military accumen. His stature assured that he would be a part of one of the most widely reaching fraternities in the history fo the United States, the Klu Klux Klan. He joined just months after its inception and was awarded stature as a Grand Wizard. During his tenure as Grand Wizard Forest frequently featured the battelflag which he personally identified with, the "stars and bars". This continued and spread in popularity and overtime the two became inextricably linked. South Carolina historically has been one of the most klan friendly states int he Union. Afterall from 1890-1917 then Governor Benjamin "Pitchfork" Tillman openly permitted klan activites as a "needed form of vigilante justice". It was as if the klan was viewed as an auxiliary to the existing police force, although to be fair many were members of both. This time is only a few generations removed from the present. This period of the state's history led to the symbol being nearly universally associated with state citizenship because it was used by a group that was widely accepted throughout the state. This flag then transformed. Like the converstion of the gammadion cross to the swaztika the Battle Flag of the Northern Army of Virginia too became redesignated for purposes of exlusion and hatred. It is because of this dark time of South Carolina's state history, whose effects are still seen in the judicial operations of the state today, that people have associate it with a history. It is a hisotry to be remembered so as not to witness its repetition, but not a history that should be a focal point of state pride placed on centerstage and celebrated. Therefore, there is no reason to have it on the statehouse grounds because the only connection it has to the state of South Carolina is to a sinister and violent fraternity of racists. If it was actually the battleflag of SC then there would be a better debate to be had.
THE BENEFITS OF REMOVAL
There are both tangible and intanglible benefits of removla. There are several tangible reasons, but I will focus on the economic benefits of removal. The intangible benefit is moving the culture of South Carolina forward.
The economic incentives of removing the flag from the statehouse grounds from college athletics alone are nothing short of incredible. The NCAA has long held that it wil not host any post-season play in Columbia, SC because it flies the "stars and bars", citing the negative stigma associated with the symbol. Let's look at the money to be had here. Williams Brice Stadium has 80,250 seats. More than likely a post-season event would sell out, but let's be conservative and consider that 60,000 tickets are sold. It is estimated that for professional sporting events 60% of attendants are from out of area. This means that 36,000 people will need a hotel for one, if not two, nights in addition to sustenance while they are there. Conservatively a hotel room in Columbia during a regular USC football game runs $75/night per person ($150 per room). Using this as an estimate each of the 36,000 would spend conservatively $150 on lodging. Asssuming an average of $10 for each meal now the tourist is spending $210. Then they will have to get gas so you may as well say $250. This doesn't begin to include incidentals, snacks, and alcoholic beverages. Conserivatively let's say reasonably this is another $50 a day. Now we're at $350 times 36,000 people. That adds up to $12.6M spent in area. That's before you take into account the hundreds of newscasters, reporters, camera crews etc. that will poor in for the event. Not to mention the ticket sales from the game and associate concerts and things that occur in area as well around events of that kind of magnitude. Clearly a significant financial benefit for taking down a flag which costs ABSOLUTELY NOTHING and has nothing to do with any aspect of state history that is worth celebrating anyway.
The other aspect is the opening of potential business opportuntities. I am not familiar offhand with which or how many busininesses were unwilling to do business in our state because of our flying the "stars and bars"; however, I don't need to because even one potential businss is enough to prove my point. The argument is this. There certainly are no companies that are ceasing to do business in the state because we no longer fly the stars and bars; however, the opposite is not true. Because the racially charged nature of the stars and bars led the NCAA to refuse to host post-season sporting events in the city. That is proof postitive that it could be prohibitve to bringing businesses to South Carolina.
The final and most intangible argument is also the shortest because it needs the least amount of explanation. The removal of a flag which represents the rule of a white patriarchy from the grounds of a state capitol is important for advancing the culutrual attitudes of the people of the state. Flying a flag which is known for inspiring hatred will not be helpful in creating a South Carolina which can function as a modern society in the 21st Century. Racial acceptacnce is not only the proper thing, but it is the necessary thing for South Carolina to remain relevant in an ever modernizing and reforming nation.
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