South Carolina removes the Physical Flag: Can it remove the Spiritual Illness of Racial Discrimination?

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

The South Carolina legislature has voted to remove the Confederate flag from the grounds of the statehouse. It was put there in 1961 as a show of defiance against the Civil Rights movement, i.e. against the demand that the system of legally-imposed segregation of African-Americans cease.

But, as I have argued before, the flag is only a symbol. South Carolina needs to address its real racial disparities if this vote is to be more than a gesture born of the heat of the moment.

Nationwide, the unemployment rate for African-Americans is 10.4 percent. The unemployment rate for whites is 5.3 percent.

Nationwide, African-Americans’ real median household income is only $32,500. The general American figure here is $51,939.

The average lifespan of a South Carolina resident is 77.8 years. African-Americans in South Carolina only live to age 74 on average.

Then there are these health disparities:

” African-American women are about 60 percent more likely than white women to die from breast cancer after diagnosis. That is the largest disparity in the nation.

African-American men are almost 80 percent more likely to get prostate cancer than white men, and about two and a half (2.5) times more likely to die from it.

African-American women are far more likely to be diagnosed and die from cervical cancer even though screening rates are similar to those of white women.

African-American men are 44 percent more likely to be diagnosed with oral and pharyngeal cancers, which make up the majority of head and neck cancers; nationally, the disparity is 18 percent.

African-American men and women are significantly more likely to have and die of colorectal cancer than are white men and women.

Incidence and mortality rates from esophageal cancer are twice as high-–and sometimes greater-–among African-Americans.”

The flag is just an outward manifestation of injustice and racial difference. It is the inner reality that needs to change.

Related video:

AP: ” South Carolina House Approves Bringing Down Flag”

13 Responses

  1. The Confederate battle flag was used as not only a symbol, but seen as the real reason a 21 yr. old with a 9th grade education murdered nine black people. Symbols replace the need for deeper explanations. Roof was a lone wolf nutjob no different from individual Muslims who commit violent crimes. Both are seen as terrorists with a much bigger agenda because people need an explanation. Confederate flags and lone Muslim terrorists served the same purpose.

    Once the Confederate flag comes down, the short attention span of Americans and the media will move on—CASE CLOSED.

  2. The thesis is correct, although gesture is important.

    I recall revisiting the eastern shore of Maryland forty years after my boyhood experiences of racism there in the Civil Rights protest era. The customers and employees at a fast-food stop were only teenagers black and white, all talking and getting along just fine. I was almost in tears with joy to watch it. The police in Cambridge were almost all black. My parents, raised there and escaped when of age, could hardly believe the story. But it is not so among the wealthy.

    When driving from Florida to Maine last week, two vast confederate flags flew from business buildings along I-95 in SC. When I interviewed in Richmond, capital of the confederacy, the Civil War came up, and I raised my conciliatory view that it was due to misgovernment of both North and South by ideologues who could have prevented war by considering the essential interests and constitutional issues of the other side. I was welcome to criticize the North but not the South. This attitude appeared to have been formed in youth by northern ignorance and insult and pretense that slavery was the issue, when in fact the South was concerned with economic viability.

    The judges of the South are still radically opposed to constitutional rights, like those in the North. Almost all are Repubs. They do not recognize rights, only money: if you can’t buy the power you need, too bad. This is true at the highest levels of the federal judiciary. But in the South the traitor judges have a sense of confederate community: Stetson Law degrees, give those Northerners hell; while in the North the Repub traitors are individualists. The patriotic ideal that binds the judges of North and South consists purely of extreme selfishness, hypocrisy, malice, and hatred of constitutional rights. This appears to be quite true of the politicians as well.

    Why would such leaders care about right and wrong? They care solely about themselves. Their declarations of moral and political principle are purely propaganda. Give such a society a bump and it falls into warring factions as it did in 1820-1860.

    • For the South to claim that the war was about “economic viability” alone while ignoring the fact that this viability was based on free-labor slavery is very much like “putting lipstick on a pig.” I mean, of course its lipstick….but its still a pig.

  3. WorkerBob2

    @frankbrill you can remove physical displays of ppl’s views but legislation cannot change hearts and minds

    • If physical displays cannot affect hearts and minds, then why are they displayed in the first place?

      • Well, if WB2 won’t give you a touché,
        Then allow me to deliver one.
        Touché gregg.

  4. Too bad for the rebel flag that it does not have as powerful a lobby as the NRA to defend it whenever an act of typical American gun violence takes place. Americans can take down a flag, but challenge insane gun laws or take on a violence-obsessed culture? Those are way too hard. Everybody go back to shopping and watching TV and eating junk food, now. Nothing more to see, until next time. If the next shooting spree involves a national flag or the Lone Star Flag — both of which have seen atrocities or rebellions under them — it will be fascinating to watch the spinning and the excuse-making.

    • A friend of mine claimed the NRA lobby was responsible for changing the public’s attention from gun violence to the Confederate flag. This punk murdered nine people in cold blood, but as soon as those Confederate flag pics went public all the talk about guns and the NRA went away. Instead, “General Lee,” the car used in the Dukes of Hazard, became a symbol of EVIL. TV Land dumped the “Dukes” rather than a face nationwide protests. How many black people were in that show?

  5. Haley simply jumped up from the curb she was sitting on to the head of the parade. What a phony, fraud, fake, charlatan.

  6. I live about an hour from the Mother Emmanuel AME church in South Carolina. I can assure you the discussion of race relations in this state are much more complicated than assuming blacks are held back because of the relatively small number of bigoted whites who embrace the confederate flag.

    When I read, ” South Carolina needs to address its real racial disparities if this vote is to be more than a gesture born of the heat of the moment. ” I get the sense that you have some misguided notion that SC is some white only group of patriarchal bureaucrats who are in control of state and federal politics.

    Actually, large numbers of blacks, male and female, are serving as elected leaders in the state house and senate, as mayors, local councilmen and women, on school boards, one US senator, and several who serve with distinction in the US house of representatives.

    My point is that improving the longevity of blacks or addressing cancer rates among black women, to name a few, has little to do with “racial disparities” but the more complex issues of diet, genetics suspected of increasing the risk of prostate cancer among black males and the pursuit of educational opportunities.

    • Actually African-Americans are woefully underrepresented in South Carolinian politics and the white politicians are making it more difficult for them to vote and get health care.

    • Interesting you should bring up the pursuit of educational opportunities. Did you know that black people founded the first public schools in South Carolina? They were run by the Freedman’s Bureau and were open to people of all races (although few white people would lower themselves to attend. I guess they hated black people more than they loved their own children.) When Reconstruction ended, they reverted to the Southern state governments, who then denied them to blacks. Ironic, isn’t it?

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