A poignant editorial by the Reverend Wiley B. Cooper was published in The State newspaper on Friday, May 25, 2007. Rev. Cooper is a native of South Carolina, eligible for membership in both the Sons of the American Revolution and the Sons of the Confederacy, and the grandson of a pastor in the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. He is the pastor of a racially and politically inclusive congregation.
Reverend Cooper gave the following reasons as to why the Confederate flag must be removed from the State House grounds:
* No flag representing a former power that is no longer sovereign in South Carolina flies on the State House grounds. Not the French or Spanish flag, not the British flag, not even the flag of the American revolutionary armies or those who stood for country in the War of 1812. Why this one alone?
* According to the Ordinance of Secession, the primary reason that the Civil War was fought was to defend and perpetuate an economic system and way of life based upon one human being owning another. That cause was wrong then, and it is wrong now.
* Since the end of the Civil War, the battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia has been used by lawless elements intent on frightening and murdering our black (and sometimes Hispanic or Jewish) brothers and sisters into a new subjugation. From the Klan, to those who threw rocks and spit at civil rights protesters, to the flags that flew over the hastily constructed “segregation academies,” to the present-day Nazi party, it continues to be displayed as a symbol of hatred and race and class enmity. It denigrates the lives and dignity of brothers and sisters of every race. It must not stand as a present symbol of South Carolina or her people.
* We honor our forefathers not by approving of the causes for which, however mistakenly, they gave their lives, but by addressing the burning problems of today with the same courage and selfless commitment which they gave. Patriotic German citizens fought well and honorably for their country in World War II; Germans would not embrace the Nazi flag as a way of honoring them.
The Rev. Cooper is pastor of College Place United Methodist Church in Columbia, South Carolina