Like many of you I have gone through the full range of emotions over the past few days in response to the shootings in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, St. Paul, Minnesota and Dallas, Texas. The violence and multiple narratives that we have now grown use to hearing in response to these incidents fits easily into a long history of racial violence and misunderstanding. It’s easy to slide into the feeling of disillusionment, but at the risk of sounding cliche, I still believe that when it comes to this thorny issue, the moral arc bends in the direction of justice and increased understanding. I have to believe it.
It’s certainly not the best comparison, but this most recent round of racial violence took place on the eve of the one-year anniversary of South Carolina’s decision to remove the Confederate battle flag from the state house grounds. Today, on this anniversary a group calling itself The South Carolina Secessionist Party held a rally to protest its removal. They brought their own pole and for a short period the battle flag once again flew at the state house for the benefit of around 150 people.
While the sight may have been encouraging for those who view this racist rag with pride, the rest of us should look at it as evidence of progress. This is the closest the Confederate battle flag will ever come to flying on this particular piece of ground. In fact, rallies could be held every day from here on out and it would still never come close to the time when it was the state itself that flew it. In fact, it is looking more and more like the only Confederate battle flags that will fly on public spaces throughout the country will be carried by private citizens.
I see it as a sign of strength that an organization advocating the break-up of this nation, along with a cast of racist speakers, has the right to practice their First Amendment rights.
The struggle continues, but we will get there.