The arc of history bends a little more

Like the obedient son in Matthew 21, the South Carolina House of Representatives hemmed and hawed and stamped its feet, and then it did the right thing. Like the obedient son, the 94 House members who voted to take down the Confederate battle flag ought to be given credit for that.

Confederate battle flag at South Carolina Capitol

It’s coming down. Hallelujah!

Not everyone will agree.

To those who say the Confederate battle flag symbolizes something noble, that it doesn’t stand for bigotry and hate: Symbols matter.

As every technical writer knows, we never use symbols that would be offensive in any culture where our content might be used. So, even though the thumb and forefinger forming a circle means “OK” in the U.S., we’d never include a picture of that gesture because to much of the world it’s insulting or vulgar.

To those who say the flag honors the bravery of forebears who fought in the Civil War: I’d be more inclined to believe you if you said the same thing about forebears who fought in the Vietnam War.

In the 1960s, just as in the 1860s, hundreds of thousands of young men were told that the war was just and that fighting was the honorable thing to do. They went and they fought bravely. Tens of thousands never came home. So why don’t we hang a South Vietnamese flag next to the Confederate flag?

Martin Luther King famously said “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” If the South Carolina House vote causes a few people to look honestly at this symbol and think about why they’ve embraced it for so long, then the arc will have bent a little more.

Image source: Charleston Post and Courier

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