Last week I put up a poll on our website to check the pulse of our readership on the issue of the state flag of Mississippi, mainly because of all the fervor from the recent controversy surrounding the rebel flag photographed with accused killer Dylan Roof. On June 17, Roof allegedly shot and killed 9 African-Americans with whom he was praying inside of their church, Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, in Charleston, South Carolina. He allegedly remarked to his victims –and I’m paraphrasing here–that African-Americans were the root of all the problems in America, so he was there to eliminate them. He was captured after a manhunt a few hours later. He has been charged with nine counts of murder and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony.
Investigation into his background has revealed that Roof’s motivation may have been based on race. Online pictures show he was photographed holding a confederate flag. An extremely pointed online manifesto saturated with hateful thoughts towards races other than Caucasian has turned up and attributed to Roof. Family members have said that in recent months, Roof was withdrawn from his friends, from society and spent much time in his room online.
What he allegedly did to the men, women and children in that church that night is incredibly horrible. Killing in cold blood like that in a place where everyone knows they are safe is simply gruesome. We are all hurting for those that were murdered and for the city of Charleston.
Now, everyone is up in arms about Roof’s photo with the confederate battle flag. Because the state flags of several states bear an image of the rebel flag, many nationwide are calling for those states to cease flying their flags and replace the state flags with a new design.
The poll we conducted showed that 65% of respondents think Mississippi should keep the state flag as is. Only 30% want it changed.
If changes do come, I say all states do away with their respective flag and fly only the official flag of the United States–Old Glory. After all, we are one country.
But, let’s look a little farther into this situation. Roof spent most of his time online, not with the confederate battle flag. Undoubtedly, he connected with others who believed like himself, online. To me, banning the internet might be a better solution to ending racial hatred than banning a flag.