If you’ve been anywhere remotely close to a news source this week, then you know that South Carolina lawmakers are embroiled in debate over whether the Confederate flag should continue to fly over the state house following the murder of nine black individuals at the hands of a white supremacist in Charleston a week ago. On Monday, Governor Nikki Haley called the flag a “deeply offensive symbol of a brutally offensive past,” and urged that it be removed from capitol grounds. It’s important to note that the Confederate flag didn’t sail on the South Carolina statehouse lawn until 1962, when it was unfurled as a brazen symbol of defiance in the midst of the Civil Rights Movement. The issue has spread beyond South Carolina, with lawmakers calling for the removal of the flag in various Southern states, citing it as a divisive symbol of bigotry. Run The Jewels’ Killer Mike resides in Atlanta, and at this point he’s just as well known as an activist as he is as a rapper. Mike penned a brief op-ed for the Fader in which he addresses the Confederate flag debate, stating that though he doesn’t believe it should fly on public grounds, he doesn’t take issue with individuals looking to honor their Southern heritage:
My opinion on the Confederate flag is quite simple and clear. I have no problem with Southerners who consider that a part of their heritage flying it privately in their homes or [wearing it] on their shirts or jackets. Even if that’s your choice of vanity license plate, you pay a tax for your license plate in Georgia. So that’s your tax, for your license plate. I have white friends who have the Confederate flag on their license plates and I have no issue with that, if they see that as a matter of heritage. But I do not think it should ever fly over a state, city, county building, or school, for the simple reason that it represents secession from the Union. It represented a part of the country trying to become a separate country from America. That side lost, and you do not fly the flags of losers over the winners’ country. It’s just that simple. There’s no way around that.
He later refers to the Confederate army as traitorous, stating that there’s no need to communally glorify its legacy:
I remember going downtown [in Atlanta] to the State Capitol and protesting [the old Georgia flag, which incorporated the Confederate flag]. It came down [in 2001] under Governor Roy Barnes, one of our last Democratic governors. It was a very heated debate for a very long time. With that said, there are tons of Confederate flags in Georgia. Many of my neighbors have them. As a Southerner, I understand how it represents our heritage and lives lost in that war. I’ll give you that at the negotiation table. But my firm stance is that any group of traitors, anyone who tried to break up this country, deserves no honor once they’ve lost.
He then comments directly on the tragedy that made lawmakers address the flag issue with a greater sense of urgency:
A terroristic act has been committed on Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church before, and has been committed on the black church for the last 400 years. We’re familiar with these terrorists: they’re called the Ku Klux Klan, and they’ve been called white supremacists. In this case they are trying to scapegoat it and call it a misguided young man. But in this case, [Roof is] a terrorist. He is a product of a terrorist propaganda that represents a caste system that hides itself behind race in this country. I see that mentality of terror as something that needs to be fought. There is no hope and no redemption for this young man. I have no forgiveness in my heart for him, and my hope is that he spends the rest of his life in prison or is quickly put to death behind the great and heinous act he did. There’s no sympathy in my heart for him.
Read the entire piece over at the Fader; it’s well worth your time.