WHILE I ADMIT MY initial reaction to the attack on South Carolina's "Stars and Bars" (Confederate States battle flag) was a knee jerk reaction, perhaps selecting the "Stars and Bars" was a knee jerk reaction of someone else a decade of so ago.
The CSA battle flag replaced a symbol associated with South Carolina almost since its founding. The symbol: A palm tree and crescent moon.
Even during the War for Southern Independence (a/k/a War of Northern Aggression or U.S. Civil War). The state flag STILL included the palm and moon. A selection of state flags, including South Carolina's through its history as a political entity, can be viewed at http://tinyurl.com/oqzw36k.
EVEN WHEN THE BATTLE FLAG was flying over the state capitol, the palm tree and moon still were South Carolina's state symbol.
With the exception of motorcycle and specialty license plates, all modern South Carolina license plates included the palm and moon . . . or at least the palm.
Granted, the palm tree and moon are a relatively new addition to the license plates; as late as 1963 the plates were symbol-free.
The "Stars and Bars" when it served as the CSA's battle flag, did not represent racism, certainly not as some people - on all sides and of all colors - have made it to be today.
When Grey faced Blue, the flag represented independence from what Southerners considered the tyranny of the North; they had the ill-conceived notion that individual States had certain rights; that the Federal government was to assist the states in inter-state affairs, in dealings with foreign governments, and to maintain a national army and navy to defend the several states. In other words, the Federal government, the Southerners foolishly believed, was a constitutional government bound by the Constitution as ratified by the original colonies - states and commonwealths.
When the "Stars and Bars" is flown today it still may represent state and individual rights - free speech, right to keep firearms, state - not federal - speed limits, state - not federal - educational standards and funding.
The flag, unfortunately, has also - repeat, also - fallen into the hand of , and disrepute, of racists and bigots of all stripes.
But then, when a cross is burned by the KKK (or KKK wanna-bes) on someone's lawn, the cross becomes a symbol of racism and bigotry; perhaps it, too, should be banned.
The "Stars and Bars" is not the problem, anymore than a cross is the problem.
The problem is the people who misuse these symbols.
The symbols mean more than racism and bigotry and should not be consigned to the dump because a few disgrace these symbols.
South Carolina can dust off its old state flags, the ones with palm and crescent moon (although given the Islamist terrorists originating from countries having the crescent moon in their flags, perhaps the moon should be filled out) and let it represent the state above the capitol and other state buildings as it represents the state on South Carolina license plates.
Let the "Stars and Bars" and crosses be used properly; as political and religious symbols, not as racists' and bigots' symbols of hate.