Peter Boullata wrote an amazing post a few days ago about the families of the Charleston 9 and their act of forgiving the racist terrorist who killed their family members. Go. Read it. Now. But I’ve been very struck by how the conversation around taking down the Confederate flag and how South Carolina legislators are connecting these things.
Time and again, some South Carolina legislator (and the Governor) would say that the impetus for them to take the flag down and off of the capitol grounds was the families forgiving the racist terrorist; not the deaths of the Charleston 9 themselves (lest we forget that Rev. Pinckney’s casket had to process under that flag twice, and it–unlike the American and South Carolina state flags–was never lowered to half-staff) .
It makes me wonder what would have happened if the families of the Charleston 9 hadn’t forgiven the racist terrorist as fast as they did. Would the flag be coming down?
Taking down the Confederate flag is NOT the same type of grace that was shown by the families of the Charleston 9. And points to yet another example of African Americans being expected to show an extraordinary amount of compassion over outrageous acts and getting very little in return.
Don’t get me wrong…I am truly glad that the Confederate flag is coming down from the South Carolina capitol grounds. But let’s get this straight; it should have never been there in the first place. It was placed on the capitol dome as an act of defiance during the Civil Rights Movement of the late 1950s and 1960s. So to me this is not an act of grace. Or if it is, it is very cheap grace. And if you listened to the debate in the South Carolina House yesterday, it was gruelling and ugly.
At some point, the U.S. is going to have to recon with slavery the way that Germany has to (and continues to) recon with Nazism. Does it have the ability to do that? I don’t know.
I do know that what happened yesterday (and today) in South Carolina in no way compares to what the families of the Charleston 9 did. And that line of thinking needs to stop.