The debate over the rebel flag that began anew after last week’s church shootings in Charleston, S.C., has morphed into a full-blown Confederate controversy.

While Stars and Bars have long been associated by many with slavery, the latest campaign to remove Confederate emblems has extended beyond the flag to statues, memorials, parks and even school mascots. Never has the debate over what symbolizes heritage and what stands for hate covered so much ground, as efforts to strip icons that have been part of the visual and cultural landscape of the South for decades are afoot at national, state and local levels. 

In one Arkansas town, the school board voted unanimously Tuesday to ban the song “Dixie” for the next school year and phase out “Rebel,” the school’s mascot. 

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“This is the beginning of communism,” said Robert Lampley, who was standing in the blazing sun in front of the South Carolina State House shortly after the legislature voted overwhelmingly to debate the current placement of the Confederate battle flag. “The South is the last bastion of liberty and independence. I know we’re going to lose eventually.”

“Our people are dying off,” he went on, before encouraging a white reporter to “keep reproducing.”…

“You’re asking me to agree that my great-grandparent and great-great-grandparents were monsters,” said Greg Stewart, a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and the executive director of Beauvoir, the last home of Jefferson Davis.

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“Sikhism is just cultish guru worship and [Nikki Haley] AKA Nimrata Nikki Randhawa Haley has no place telling Southerners about their history,” McInnes, who was born in England, moved to Canada and later came to the United States, said on social media. Haley is a Methodist.

“All right, all right, sorry. She’s technically not an immigrant or a Sikh but she sure as hell is acting like both,” he said after being corrected.

McInnes added elsewhere on Twitter, “Children of immigrants need to revere the 620K who died [in the Civil War] – and it wasn’t for slavery.”

“Us white immigrants are the best people to tell you Americans to get over your white guilt. You didn’t start slavery, you ended it,” he said, adding later, “History is written by the victors. Yankees say the Confederate flag is about slavery. We have Google. Look it up.”

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“Don’t ever underestimate the defiant streak that runs through all the Southern states,” Mowery said. “This could very quickly have become less about the flag and all about ‘Don’t tell me what to do’; and with 13 states that still sanction the flag in some way, this could be an issue that, if misplayed, follows a candidate through all of these states. With so many of them voting early [in the nomination process] this time, that would be a huge problem.”…

State Sen. Lee Bright, Cruz’s South Carolina co-chair, has emerged as one of the most vocal opponents of the move. Bright told the Charleston Post and Courier that taking the flag down was akin to a “Stalinist purge,” a claim he expanded on in an interview with POLITICO on Tuesday.

“It’s not just the flag,” Bright said. “They want to take down the Confederate monuments; I’ve gotten emails from people who want to rename streets. … Anytime you want to basically remove the symbols of history from a state, that’s something that just is very bad. … These are honorable men who fought for their homes, their home state; to disgrace them in the name of political correctness is just wrong. They’re not here to defend themselves.”

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While a legislative push to remove the Confederate flag from South Carolina’s capitol grounds seems flush with momentum, some state lawmakers in the Palmetto State are feeling fierce pushback from constituents who want to keep the “stars and bars” flying…

Martin recalled casting one of his first votes in the 1970s in favor of keeping the flag flying over the Statehouse dome. He backed compromise legislation in 2000 to move it to the Confederate monument and the capitol grounds, and had, until recently, favored keeping it there.

Now he say his views have changed and believes those of many of his constituents have, too. An online poll done by his hometown newspaper, The Greenville News, however, shows opposition to removing the flag leading by a 2-to-1 margin. The survey received 12,000 responses.

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That leads to the question, then, of whether government speech that tells African Americans they are inferior – and perhaps that the era of slavery was right – violates the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment…

[I]f a state legislature passed a statute proclaiming African Americans are inferior I can imagine that such a bold and vicious statement might rise to the level of a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment’s promise that no state shall “deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

Now take a further step: does the Confederate battle flag or a monument to the Confederacy tell African American citizens that they are inferior? And if so, does that violate the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment?

While the answer to the latter question may not be clearly yes, I don’t think it is clearly no, either.

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History is being made almost willy-nilly this week. The effect is dizzying — and profound…

A friend asked whether any sensible person wouldn’t prefer, say, better education policies and less regressive taxation in Mississippi instead of a new flag. It’s a valid question. But it may be that better policies are impossible without a new political context, one in which the flag — and all the bloody, dishonest, subterranean vice it represents — is laid to rest. Symbols matter: That’s why we cherish them, wave them, flaunt them. Public symbols matter more.

No conservative politician in the South can afford to fully acknowledge what is going on this week; the political constituency for what Sally Jenkins called the”self-lying sentimental tide” of the Lost Cause is still too potent a source of votes and activism to be directly confronted. But across the South, the political context is changing before our eyes.

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Galling as the political reasons for Haley’s decision may have been, it matters to see symbols of racism fall away. Making sure that flag doesn’t fly in public spaces means a lot to black people young and old, and shouldn’t be treated as an ancillary issue as we come to grips with what Roof did. That said, I also don’t think we should be handing out cookies to any politician for realizing, after nine more black deaths, that it’s wrong to have the American swastika on state grounds and license plates. There is something to be said for witnessing this kind of change. It was a victory for the activists and organizers who have, in the last year, successfully shifted the national perspective on the abuse black people are suffering in the United States. Republicans didn’t alter their stance on this because they suddenly want to cater to black voters. They’ve realized that enough white voters now care that it makes a difference.

In politics, symbols draw attention to thorny issues like race with a highly visible target. It is much easier to criticize that flag than it is to meaningfully address, with policy, racial inequality and the white violence the Confederate battle flag symbolizes, just as it’s easier to complain about bricks and bottles thrown in Baltimore and Ferguson than it is to do something about what caused that anger.

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I still cannot believe the Charleston Massacre has triggered quite this total a collapse of support, not just for flying the Confederate battle flag in places of honor at Southern state capitols, but for public display and honor for the Confederacy and the War of the Rebellion in almost any form. Whatever the precise cause or convergence of under-noticed trends, there now seems like no doubt that we are witnessing a watershed in the country’s long, wretched and denial-ridden wrestling with the public memory of the Civil War…

The United States Army maintains at least ten military bases – including some of the largest – named in honor of Confederate generals. There is a unique irony in the United States Army, which lost hundreds of thousand of soldiers defeating the Confederacy, naming its biggest military compounds for generals who helped with the killing. I realize that this is a very big can of worms to open. But if it is inappropriate to have a statue of Jefferson Davis in the Kentucky capitol building can it really be appropriate for our largest Army bases to be named after Confederate generals?…

[T]he ghost of the Confederacy and the almost countless public honors inscribed on the land are close to inoperable. They run so deep. They are so numerous and pervasive.

Do we follow the righteous logic of recent days to its logical conclusion?

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The Pentagon said Wednesday that there is currently “no discussion” on renaming U.S. military bases that honor Confederate officers.  

“As of now, there’s no discussion of adjusting our current naming policies,” said Army Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman…

Those installations include some of the most well known Army installations: Fort Benning in Georgia, Fort Bragg in North Carolina and Fort Hood in Texas.  

Warren said the naming of military installations is up to the individual services. 

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We can call for a flag to come down all day long, but if Christians are going to address the problem of segregation in churches, it’s going to require more than statements from preachers and politicians. It’s going to require true hospitality towards African Americans, the kind that springs from our love of Jesus—not just our good southern upbringing…

If you truly believe in scripture, then let’s recognize that we’re talking about your siblings, not some abstract group of “victims.” That’s your family that, for generations, was abused, discriminated against, disenfranchised, and murdered for their skin color. We’re talking about brothers and sisters of yours who didn’t even receive the protections of the Voting Rights Act until 13 years before I was born—and I’m only 36! Get angry for them; acknowledge the harm; let your heart break for them.

See the tragedy for what it was and continues to be; and then engage in true hospitality, inviting siblings of color into your home, onto your softball team, and to your child’s birthday party. Ask them how it makes them feel when you mock Barack Obama; ask them to tell you stories about “driving while black”; and hold back any conservative talking points you may be tempted to share. And by all means, don’t do any of this because you feel sorry for them.

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The media/political cycle of this story has been all too familiar. The media distorts reality and makes something a cause which appears to casts one side as good and the other as evil/racist. Liberals immediately swarm in unison under the guise of morality. Prominent conservatives, fearful of the false narrative of racism sticking to them and eager to show the media how they are not one of the “bad” conservatives, quickly give credibility to the media’s fake story while also removing all political cover for any other conservatives who might be inclined to fight for the principle of the matter. The media then easily portrays any remaining resistance to their false narrative as coming from nuts and racists…

The entire philosophical basis for South Carolina removing the flag from display at their statehouse is that its placement there is some sort of de facto seal of approval by the state. While I disagree that there is a basis for removing it, at least there is some logic for why someone could hold that position. However, what is the rational for Walmart, Amazon or even Ebay and NASCAR deciding that Confederate-related products can suddenly no longer be sold?

Are they saying that they agree with every possibly interpretation of every product they sell?! That would be obviously ludicrous. And there is clearly no evidence that there is a lack of interest in people buying such material, so the economic argument is also moot. This is purely about fear of irrational criticism and is effectively censorship.

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You have to credit the Left: Its strategy is deft. If you can make enough noise that sounds approximately like a moral crisis, then you can in effect create a moral crisis. Never mind that the underlying argument — “Something bad has happened to somebody else, and so you must give us something we want!” — is entirely specious; it is effective. In the wake of the financial crisis, we got all manner of “reform,” from student-lending practices to the mandates of Elizabeth Warren’s new pet bureaucracy, involving things that had nothing at all to do with the financial crisis. Democrats argued that decency compelled us to pass a tax increase in the wake of the crisis, though tax rates had nothing to do with it. A crisis is a crisis is a crisis, and if a meteor hits Ypsilanti tomorrow you can be sure that Debbie Stabenow will be calling for a $15 national minimum wage because of the plight of meteor victims…

The Confederate flag, and other rebel iconography, is a marker of Southern distinctiveness, which, like American distinctiveness, is inextricably bound up with the enslavement and oppression of black people. But only the South is irredeemable in the Left’s view, and it has been so only since about 1994, when it went Republican. Which is to say, the Confederate flag is an emblem of regional distinctiveness disapproved of by 21st-century Democrats. Their reinvigorated concern is awfully nice: When the South actually was a segregationist backwater that African-Americans were fleeing by the million — when Democrats were running the show — they were ho-hum. Today the South is an economic powerhouse, dominated by Republicans, and attracting new African-American residents by the thousands. And so the Left and its creature, the Democratic party, insist that Southern identity as such must be anathematized. The horrific crime that shocked the nation notwithstanding, black life in Charleston remains very different, in attractive ways, from black life in such Left-dominated horror shows as Cleveland and Detroit, and the state’s governor is, in the parlance of identity politics, a woman of color — but she is a Republican, too, and therefore there must be shrieking, rending of garments, and gnashing of teeth.

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Where does it stop? To be honest, I’ve been asking for 25 years, when are we gonna bottom out on this stuff, and we never reach the bottom. We keep descending to depths that I didn’t know we could get to. Even I, who am very prescient and able to spot trends, tell you where they’re going, even I failed to realize that transgenderism would eventually be presented to us as normal and it’s something we should accept and don’t question and whatever…

Let me tell you, I am not suggesting that anybody is gonna tear down the Jefferson Memorial. This is something I don’t want to be misquoted on. I didn’t even bring it up. CNN brought it up. Ashleigh Banfield and Donald Lemon started talking about whether or not it would make sense. I mean, if we’re gonna get rid of the Confederate flag, should we get rid of all of these memorials? Would that be the equal thing to do?

And my point to you is they don’t have to tear down a single thing to destroy it. They do not have to pull down the American flag to destroy it. They can do all the damage in the world they want with assaults and attacks on reputations, tradition, history, you name it.

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