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Detroit Newspaper Columnist: Burn Confederate Flags to Destroy 'Figurative Fire' of Hate

By    |   Saturday, 20 Jun 2015 10:39 PM

All Confederate flags should be burned to fight their "figurative fire" of racism with "the real thing," columnist Joe Lapointe said in an op-ed piece in The Detroit Free Press.

"There is no need to respect a symbol that is as evil and vicious to African Americans as the Nazi swastika flag is to Jews," Lapointe said on Friday. "In fact, it is important to actively disrespect the banner that represents a pure form of human evil.

"The display of the Confederate flag — anywhere — is a nonverbal statement of race hate. Its burning would be a nonverbal response to its crude attitude.

"You're sure not going to change their attitudes with sweet reason," he added. "Fight their figurative fire with the real thing."

The debate over the Confederate flag's history and symbolism has begun anew since Dylann Roof allegedly shot and killed nine members of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., Wednesday night.

News reports have since surfaced of a website registered to Roof, 21, that pictures him posing with weapons at Confederate grave sites and espouses a 2,500-word white supremacist manifesto.

Authorities confirmed Saturday that the site was registered to Roof in February. He also is featured holding the flag in several pictures.

South Carolina was the last state to fly the Confederate battle flag from its Capitol dome. A compromise in 2000 moved the flag to a 30-foot flagpole elsewhere on Statehouse grounds, where it has been flying at full staff.

Civil rights leaders in South Carolina and nationwide have also called for the flag to be removed from the state capitol. The White House has said that President Barack Obama thinks the flag "belongs in a museum."

The issue has also set off a strong debate among Republicans, with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney taking to Twitter to demand that the flag be removed. His tweet sent 2016 candidates and hopefuls scrambling to stake out positions on the highly charged issue.

One candidate, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, said that he was willing to revisit the decision regarding the flag, but that it "is a part of who we are."

"The flag represents to some people a civil war and that was the symbol of one side," he told CNN on Friday. "To others, it's a racist symbol."

In his op-ed, Lapointe noted how Roof's license plate "displayed the rebel flag of the Civil War.

"And Roof was true to the colors of the Stars and Bars," the columnist added. "He is said to have believed in the inferiority of black people, who were employed mostly as slaves by South Carolina and other states in the South when they started a bloody revolution in 1861 to 'protect their states' rights' to enslave other human beings.

"Although the Confederate states lost, they were never punished enough and this allowed white attitudes of racial superiority to flourish in the South, even today, 150 years after that war," Lapointe said.

He called the flag's flying "a purposeful affront not only to African Americans but also to humanity in general."

And since "South Carolina will never willingly take down the flag, the time has come for opponents to exercise their First Amendment right to free speech and burn the Confederate flag — at the state Capitol in South Carolina, in front of the White House, in front of Fox News or maybe even outside the Grand Old Opry."

However, "don't burn it in a way that can cause harm," Lapointe cautioned, offering such safety tips as keeping a fire extinguisher nearby and not using "too much flammable liquid to start it."

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All Confederate flags should be burned to fight their figurative fire of racism with the real thing, columnist Joe Lapointe said in an op-ed piece in The Detroit Free Press. There is no need to respect a symbol that is as evil and vicious to African Americans as the...
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