I have to admit: I’m shocked we’re having this discussion about the confederate flag in 2015. To my mind, this issue’s been settled beyond any reasonable measure for many, many decades. It’s the flag of people who took up arms against the United States in order to preserve their way of life which, as you may be aware, involved keeping human being as property. We hear all the time about enemies who “hate us for our freedom,” but this was literally the only time when that hyperbolic statement was true.
Was slavery the primary, direct cause of the Civil War? No. Were all southerners slaveholders? No. Were many northerners racist bigots? Of course.
None of that matters. It would be incredibly obtuse (not to mention historically inaccurate) to suggest that the confederate flag had nothing to do with slavery. This is not a matter educated people debate. It is a fact beyond any question. The association exists. Insisting that it does not, that it represents “heritage;” does not change that fact, it just makes you look like an ass.
The only thing that surprises me is that it’s taken yet another racially-motivated killing to bring this issue to the forefront. This was decided a long time ago. Flying the confederate flag let’s people know you’re a racist. That was true long before Dylann Roof was born. Get rid of the damned thing, at the very least banish it from public buildings, and be done with it.