In the wake of the Charleston, South Carolina Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church shootings on June 18, 2015, Governor Nikki Haley called for the removal of the Confederate Battle Flag from the State capital’s flagpole. Regrettably, even if her call for action is successful, it would do no more to change the reasons behind the hatred that drives one human to kill others than legislation to ban the “N” word would go towards closing the inaccurately named “racial” divide.
Many people look at the behavior of the rioters in Ferguson, Missouri in August, 2014 and in Baltimore, Maryland in April, 2015 and make excuses for them such as, “They are angry and have no other way of expressing their anger.” But, the same people look at the illicit behavior of white supremacists and say, “They are bigots and they have no excuse.” In their sentiments towards the white supremacists, they are absolutely correct, but they need to apply the same standard equally to people of every skin color. Bad behavior is bad behavior no matter who does it or for what reason it is done.
Despite the unequal application of a standard, there is another relevant point one can extract from these observations. When people are unjustly treated and when they have no viable means to address their grievances, they often turn to hatred and violence as an outlet.
The United States has much to atone for in its history and two of the most divisive matters in need of atonement are the treatment of African Americans in our nation, especially after the institution of slavery ended, and Lincoln’s War against the South which is commonly and inaccurately known as the “Civil War”. These two breaches of justice are closely related, but not as most people in America today believe they are.
One of the reasons the Confederate Battle Flag is still a potent symbol over one-hundred and fifty years after the war ended is because that war was an injustice done to the South, which has never been appropriately addressed by our national government and is still an open wound. In addition, the oppression of the southern culture through the national policy of Reconstruction deepened that wound to ensure that it would never properly heal without significant atonement.
Lincoln’s War was an injustice done to the South because, according the Tenth Amendment, every State has always possessed the power of secession, and the Constitution only authorizes Congress to call up troops, not the President.
Lamentably, it was under the policy of Reconstruction that unrighteous southern animosity grew against former African slaves, mainly because the Republican Party used the former slaves as pawns in a political chess game to further their party’s interests by oppressing southern whites, who were mostly Democrats. Additionally, the Republican Party, ex post facto, used slavery as a means to justify the unjust war they perpetrated and the unjustifiable oppression they imposed upon the South after the war.
During Reconstruction, the northern occupiers disenfranchised white southern voters and enabled former slaves to vote and run for office. The northern occupiers also, among many other oppressive actions, confiscated property from southerners and gave some of the property to former slaves. Whether the animosity that grew out of these actions was justified or not, it did not sit well with the southern white population.
The southern whites, who could do little to change the economic and social oppression imposed upon them, turned against blacks as if they were the cause of the calamity. Even to this day, over one-hundred and fifty years later, one can still see the economic scars in the South left by Lincoln’s War and Reconstruction, and one can still feel the hatred of blacks for something for which they are blameless.
For the sole reason of righting wrongs, we should take pause before relegating the Confederate Battle Flag to museums. Regardless of its modern misuse, that flag is a symbol of liberty; it is a symbol of our nation’s Second War of Independence and it should be honored as such by people of every skin color. Without a doubt, slavery was wrong, but, according to Lincoln in his first inaugural address, his executive order calling up troops on April 15, 1861, and his address to Congress on July 4, 1861, the abolition of slavery was not why he led the northern States to war against the South.
In order to atone for the wrongs against the South, our national government should recognize that the South had a justifiable reason for secession that had nothing to do with slavery,  that Lincoln unconstitutionally took our nation to war,  that States still have a constitutional right to secede from the union if the national government breaches our national contract, and that what Congress did to the South via Reconstruction was unjust. By taking these steps, white supremacists will no longer be able to perpetuate the myth that the Confederate Battle Flag is a symbol of oppression and it will take away the genesis of their hatred, whether they choose to recognize it or not.
The overwhelming majority of the men who fought for the Southern Cause in the 1860s did not own slaves. Additionally, slavery was a labor practice that denied them job opportunities. It is, therefore, irrational to believe that non-slave owning southerners fought to maintain slavery or were willing to die to maintain the right to oppress black people.
Accordingly, the people who use the Confederate Battle Flag as a symbol of oppression and hatred do not accurately represent the people who fought under that banner in the 1860s and shame on anyone who uses it as a symbol of hatred. They do not help their cause with misdirected anger and illicit behavior. We, as a nation should stand united with our brothers and sisters of all skin colors, as one human race, and instead fight against the civil government that takes away our liberty with nearly every bill it passes. May the Holy Spirit comfort the survivors and families of the victims of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church and may God the Father guide our nation into true reconciliation through His Son, Jesus Christ.
 The power to call up troops to suppress an insurrection is an Article I, Section 8, Clause 15 power.
 Lincoln called his order a Proclamation, but it was an executive order by another name.
 American Founding Principles, Can States Constitutionally Secede from the United States?, November 19, 2012.