Cowardly Faces, Beautiful Places

I was born and raised in South Carolina.

From Beaufort to Summerville to Irmo to Mt. Pleasant to Clemson to Chapin, I spent the first 29 years of my life growing up there. I have aspirations to move back. My end goal has always been to wind up in South Carolina. It’s what I know. It’s my family’s home. It’s my home.

Today, my state let me down.

Outside of Texas, there are few states that can claim more state pride that South Carolina residents hold for their home. We’re a stubborn lot but South Carolinians live and breathe to defend their state. Some stances are noble and worthy. Others are not. But we’re not afraid to take a side, pour our heart into it, let you know how we feel, and do it with a smile on our face and sweet tea in our hand.

The Civil War was started on our soil because a group of people felt strongly enough to defend their stance on state rights. Good or bad, you cannot question South Carolina’s passion and pride.

Last week, an ignorant, racist, evil human being walked into a place of worship in our state and took nine lives out of pure spite and hatred. The murderer was white. The victims were black. Race shouldn’t matter in a situation this cruel. A life taken is a tragedy, no matter what color. Yet the murderer chose to make it his spark. The national media and outside parties with no vested interest in the state then fanned the fire.

Yet there were no riots. There were no violent demonstrations. There was no further division of race by #BlackLivesMatter movements. The voice heard across the state was simple: #PrayForCharleston. Thousands joined hands on the Cooper River Bridge Sunday to promote love, not hate.

No matter your race, religion, background, you were welcome into any church, any gathering, any prayer group to peacefully offer your condolences and show the rest of the world watching that Charleston and South Carolina didn’t do things your way. We band together and take care of our own in times of need whether you want to be a part of it or not.

Yet in less than a week, Mitt Romney, Jon Stewart, John Oliver, and countless other high exposure figures had changed the discussion from the remembrance and honor of the nine murdered people to the racially sensitive issue of the Confederate flag that has nothing to do with our tragedy. As the media took ran with the story, local figures began hopping on the bandwagon – Steve Spurrier. Ray Tanner. Lindsey Graham. Joe Riley. By Monday afternoon, Nikki Hailey – the governor of our state – held a press conference to suggest the removal of the Confederate flag from the grounds of the state house.

Should the flag be removed? There’s no easy answer. Personally, I’m against it as the current location was agreed upon in 2000 after removing it from atop the state house and it’s a symbol to me of the stubborn will of the South Carolina people. South Carolina holds a unique place in our country’s history and the flag is one part of that. I also understand that it’s a symbol of hate to many people after it’s been misused and bastardized by racist groups in recent history. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, as long as the discussion remains civil.

However, if the leaders of South Carolina wanted the flag down, they should have fought the fight on its own merit instead of facing an agenda of national perception. If this is truly a matter Graham, Scott, Riley, etc were passionate about, why is it just coming to light now? Have a backbone and stand on your own two feet to fight your own fights. But instead, they sheepishly backed into a corner after outside figures hijacked the story of nine of our own being brutally murdered to opportunistically push an unrelated, race-driven political agenda while emotions were high.

That’s disappointing.

That’s not my South Carolina.

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5 Responses to Cowardly Faces, Beautiful Places

  1. hopeclark says:

    Actually, I see now as the perfect time to take it down. After the murders, we all came together in South Carolina to show the world that we are proud and we don’t hate. We dealt with hardship with love and understanding, and joining for a mutual cause. We don’t behave like other cities and states, and we don’t like other people’s noses in our business. I just unfriended two people on my usually happy, positive, motivative Facebook page who were shouting and berating things about the flag. One would only say she used to live in SC and hated guns. One was from Maine and ordered me to tell my state to take the flag down in a nasty tone. I did not argue. I just hushed them from my world. They are not entitled to tell my state what to do, just like I don’t shout opinions about theirs. I don’t vote or pay taxes in their states, and they don’t in mine. They can stay on their side of the fence.

    I am a staunch, and I mean STAUNCH, states rights advocate. I also love my history. I’m proud of being Southern. I’m proud I have many ancestors who fought in The War. I found one ancestor who owned slaves. Have I? No. Does what they did make me despicable? No. However, I know enough about my lineage to understand that they fought for their home. They had to fight. Were they going to fight with the Yankees? No. All they knew was that they fought for their own.

    Just like soldiers today go to the middle east without truly understanding the cause of the war, so did our ancestors. You cannot blame everybody in the South for what some politicians did. Hell, I wish Lincoln had lived. We’d all be better off. Politician screwed that up, too.

    But….I think it noble that we honor the nine deaths with the flag’s removal from the capital to a place of honor in the confederate museum. Too many people, as ignorant of history as they may be, will always envision it as a symbol of hate. That pains me, but I will not convince them otherwise, just as they will never convince me of their stance. But at this time, when we are in one accord in this state, the time is right.

    And I do not think we cow-towed to people outside the state. I really don’t. We are growing, evolving, and making difficult choices. Now is the perfect time, when South Carolinians’ tempers are actually tempered by love of SC and respect for the deceased, to respectfully agree to disagree on the flag, and place it in the museum. After all, we can fly it personally, if we so choose. Haley was right that the state house has to represent all the people.

    I think it honorable, during a time when we have a divisive president who does not respect people who do not hold his views, that SC show him, Congress, and the rest of the US that chooses to riot instead of cope, that there is a grown-up way to deal with differences.

    I have felt more patriotic today than I have in years, and I’m proud to live in SC.

  2. I see this as no different than the Patriot Act – something people may not agree under normal circumstances being opportunistically rushed through at a time when people’s emotions are too high and it becomes taboo to argue against it.

    It’s fine if people want it to come down. I disagree but I won’t argue that. I just think it’s cowardly to hide it under the guise of honoring those who died. Politicians and leaders are sneaking this under the rug. They know they can right now without any opposition because you’ll be labeled as dishonoring those who died. The two events couldn’t be more unrelated.

    • hopeclark says:

      It’s a tough subject. Maybe it takes a time like this for people to have the guts to discuss it. Bringing it up cold turkey probably raises too many tempers. The deaths might force people to keep it civil….just my spin on it. I see what you’re saying. You know I live with someone who thinks like you do, and it’s been interesting talking it back and forth.

  3. Joni says:

    I am proud of both of you and your state. I am In and always have been in Georgia. I’m proud of my Southern heritage but it is difficult to express that without someone thinking I’m racist. It’s where I was born, where I’ve lived my life. I think SC did a great job of coming together after the horror of the killings. It is probably time to take the flag down and move it to the museum but I also don’t like how it was brought up when we were suppose to be in morning for the victims. I cannot tell you how much I hate the way politicians behave! I’ve loss so much respect for our federal government and supreme court.
    Take care,
    Joni Brown

    • It’s a tricky situation, for sure. But it’s just one blip in 2015 that’ll soon be forgotten (if it hasn’t been already) once the next knee-jerk reaction comes up. I’m more upset with how the flag came down, not the actual act of it coming down. But politicians will forever do their thing to stir the pot when no one else is asking for it to be stirred.

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