The Confederate flag should be banned from the University
By Josh Peters
Published: Wednesday, October 13, 2010
The Civil War is over. It has been for 145 years.
However, the issue about the use of the Confederate flag still rages on as if the ink hasn’t yet dried on Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox.
Generally confined to the Deep South, many people in this area don’t think this issue has salience.
There are many people at this University that proudly display the Confederate flag, including a few fellow resident assistants across the University.
After inquiring about these flags and their purpose, I have found out that it is the symbol for something called the "Redneck Club."
The idea of a redneck club is not a big deal. As a native West Virginian, I know a large number of them.
Generally, they are just "good ‘ol boys" who like to hunt, fish and distrust the government. Their intentions are not malicious, and the racial component of what they represent is a non-factor.
However, for some reason, these people have decided the Confederate flag is the best symbol to use for their group.
Quite frankly, this is beyond idiotic.
One argument for using the flag centers on the idea of "southern pride" or "southern unity."
In actuality, this flag does not represent either one of those ideals.
The Confederate States were a group of states that seceded from the United States because they valued the idea of states’ rights. Essentially, there should be very loose ties between individual states.
So, in reality, the Confederate flag represents a sense of disunity and a lack of any sort of central identity.
Secondly, defenders of the flag cite the flag as a part of history they want to honor.
The question becomes, what is the history they are honoring?
There is no need to go into the horrors of slavery within the United States. It was a cloud that hangs over this society and should never be forgotten. The damage done by the enslavement of African Americans 145 years ago has not been corrected to this day.
Even if the intent of a person is not in any way racial, that flag will always carry with it that issue.
For example, as someone who has studied the pre-World War II economy in Germany, I have found many of the economic policies enacted by Hitler were very successful. He actually won Time magazine’s "Man of the Year" in 1936 for his efforts.
However, if someone were to show support for those economic policies by having a flag with a swastika on it, would people be able to decipher what ideals within the Nazi Party they supported?
The same theory applies here.
Slavery is tied to that flag. It always will be and for good reason. The Southern states were willing to commit tyranny in order to preserve the institution of slavery.
With that said, it is more than acceptable for people to fly this flag.
It is a first amendment right that we have freedom of speech. Essentially, we all have the right to say anything, even if it is ignorant.
However, as an institution, the University must make a rule banning the use of the Confederate flags by its employees.
As representatives of the institution, we have to make an environment that makes everybody feel safe and accepted.
An RA, whether or not they realize it, is an employee of WVU. They are the most visible employee to first-year students.
How can a student, especially one of African-American descent, become involved and successful if they are intimidated by the one person who is assigned to help them start this wild journey that is college?
The truth is it cannot happen.
Students need to feel like they are part of a community in order to be as successful. Use of the Confederate flag undermines that.
The Confederate flag is divisive.
It alienates students.
It has no place in our University. Period.