Spalding Distinguished Professor of History James Cobb takes to the pages of TIME magazine (via Zocalo Public Square, a not-for-profit Ideas Exchange that blends live events and humanities journalism) to discuss the issues surrounding the removal of the confederate flag:
In South Carolina, that flag might still be flying atop the state capitol had a torrent of threatened economic and tourist boycotts and pressure from the state’s business community not forced the legislature 15 years ago to at least move it to the capitol grounds. Governor Haley had shown no public inclination to move against it until the slaughter of nine African-Americans in Charleston by a Rebel-flag-worshipping gunman became both catalyst and premise for a step that southern political leaders had been at once eager but too timid to take.
Not only did the flag pose a threat to party unity, but clinging to such a divisive and seemingly hostile and provincial symbol is hardly indicative of a community ready to welcome global companies and their employees. Make no mistake about it, the moves by Nikki Haley and her counterparts in other southern states amounted in no small sense to what a proponent of ditching the Confederate insignia on the Mississippi state flag once called a “strategic business decision.” Without questioning the sincerity of their expressions of horror over the Charleston tragedy, distancing their state and their party from what so many see as an emblem of hatred and persecution seems to have a huge upside for southern Republicans, especially those with national political ambitions like South Carolina’s Senator Lindsey Graham or perhaps even, its governor.
And now news arrives that the S.C. legislature is
voting on debating whether to remove the flag. Better late than never, I guess. And we also stipulate that it is acceptable to do the right thing for the wrong reasons. Thanks to Dr. Cobb for always being there when debates need light and not just more heat.