Bentley made right move to remove the flagBy Eric Roddy | 07/08/2015 1:16pm
It seems rare, sometimes, for two great things to happen to the state of Alabama in the same week, let alone the same day, but on June 24, we found out that Google planned to pour $600 million into the state in order to turn one of Alabama’s old coal burning factories into a gold (data) factory. However, to many, that wasn’t the best news. At 8:20 a.m., with Robert Bentley’s orders in hand, two Capitol workers took down the flag that represented glory to so many. It was about time.
I admire Governor Bentley’s decision. I admire his response to criticism even more. “This is the right thing to do...this had the potential to become a major distraction as we go forward.” Without wasting time with any sentiment or personal feelings about how maybe some great, great uncle was a Confederate general, Governor Bentley opened the door to a brighter future for Alabama. It felt nice these last few weeks to join the rest of the modern world. As he went on to say, “It’s so important that we present an image in Alabama that things are different today than they were in 1963.” He’s right.
Fortunately as a Jewish student at Alabama, I haven’t had to deal with seeing Nazi symbols on trucks or houses, and no matter how much I value free speech, I would like to continue to not see these things. Although they are historical items, the Confederate flags represent to so many what the Nazi flag represents to the Jewish population: intolerance and ignorance. Unfortunately, like the occasional anti-semitic remark that catches my ear, it will be tough to kill racism in our state, but by removing one of its strongholds from public display, we have taken a step in the right direction.
The aftermath of Gov. Bentley’s decision will steam for quite a while in more than a few individuals. Just last week I overheard someone sternly announce to a bathroom sink, “Flags don’t kill people, people kill people.” While this man may not have been able to recognize it at the time, this paramount step at our Capitol will keep our state, which is great in so many ways, from being held back by its past.
Alabama doesn’t seem to be encroaching on any individual’s right to free speech just yet. So there’s no need to worry about breaking the law if you have the flag flying from your doorstep or plastered on your back windshield, but you should worry about looking inhumane instead.
Eric Roddy is a senior majoring in philosophy. His column runs biweekly.