Charlie Daniels Weighs in on Confederate Flag Debate
Charlie Daniels is up on his Soapbox again, this time to share his views on the debate that's currently raging over the Confederate flag.
The racially-motivated mass shootings that took the lives of nine people in Charleston, S.C. last week have ignited a new and very widespread debate about the Confederate flag and its place in American society. South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley has called for the flag to be removed from the State House amidst a rush of other national figures calling for other instances of the flag to be removed, while a number of retailers have made the decision to pull Confederate flag-themed merchandise from their stock.
Daniels frequently writes about his strong political opinions in a section of his site called the Soapbox, and in a new post on Thursday (June 26,) he shared at length his feelings about the flag and its complicated history.
"Before I go any farther with this piece, I wish to express my love and admiration for the people of Charleston who have, in the face of immense pain, shown a restraint and a common sense seldom seen in tragic situations involving race," Daniels writes.
He goes on to share a story about how a man once misidentified the flag on the front of his piano player's piano as the Confederate flag and got offended for no reason, saying, "Of course the situation concerning the Confederate flag in Charleston is a much more serious situation with justifiable feelings that go back a century and a half, and the problem has the potential to be a racially divisive one. The bottom line is that the flag in question represents one thing to some people and another thing to others."
Daniels clarifies that he doesn't see it as his place to tell the people of South Carolina or anywhere else what flags they can fly, "but I truly hate to see the opportunists move in and create a symbol of hate out of a simple piece of cloth."
He adds, "Of course we know most politicians are going to chime in and glean whatever political hay that is available, but, in my book, the corporate rush to rid their shelves of anything with the Confederate battle flag on it is pure hypocrisy. If they felt that deeply about the subject, they should have done something years ago and I notice they have no problem accepting the profits from the merchandise they have on hand."
Daniels goes on to recount his own experience growing up in the South, where he says there was a widespread feeling at the time that Northerners looked down on Southerners. The country legend says that as result, "the Confederate battle flag was a sign of defiance, a sign of pride, a declaration of a geographical area that you were proud to be from."
"That’s all it is to me and all it ever has ever been to me," he states. "I can’t speak for all, but I know in my heart that most Southerners feel the same way."
Daniels writes that he has no desire to see the return of the Confederacy, and he believes people of all races deserve the same rights and advantages. He sees the flag issue as an issue of states' rights. "I feel that this controversy desperately needs to be settled without federal interference and input from race baiters like Al Sharpton, that it's up to the individual states as to what they allow to be a part of their public image, what the majority of the people of any given state want should, in my opinion, be their policy," he says.
To those who question his sincerity, Daniels points out that he lived through times of deep racial prejudice and Jim Crow laws, "when the courts were tilted against any black man, the segregated educational system was inferior and opportunities for blacks to advance were almost nonexistent," adding that he formed his own views "out of experience and disgust."
"I hold no ill feelings and have no axes to grind with my brothers and sisters of any color. The same God made us, the same God will judge us, and I pray that He will intervene in the deep racial divide we have in this nation and make each person — black or white — see each other for what we truly are, human beings, no better, no worse," he says.
"It's time to do away with labels, Caucasian-American, African-American, Asian-American, Native American and so forth," Daniels finishes. "How about just a simple 'AMERICAN'?"
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