The Confederate flag flap

Published 10:43 pm Thursday, July 2, 2015

You can tell it’s presidential election season. Once again, politicians and the mainstream media are being stupid and irresponsible.

They are wasting our time on minor issues that get both sides of the conservative-liberal divide riled up at each other, but prevent us from focusing on what really matters. We have a mess of serious problems we have to fix or deal with at home and overseas.

And what have the media, the politicians and the whole country been yapping and arguing about for two weeks? The symbolism of a 150-year-old Confederate battle flag.

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Jeb Bush — as predictably as Donald Trump and the others — said on Monday that the flag is “a racist symbol” from the past that divides people and causes disagreement today. He said the Confederate flag should be removed from South Carolina’s statehouse grounds, just as he removed it from Florida’s capitol when he was governor. I agree.

Though it was originally designed to prevent southern soldiers from killing each other in battle, the flag has been a symbol of both heritage and hate since the beginnings of the civil rights movement.

Sadly, it took a horrible tragedy in Charleston to make the country and our leading politicians realize that a state government has no business giving the Confederate flag a place of honor. Like it or not, in 2015 the Confederate flag we all saw on the roof of those 1969 Dodge Chargers on the “Dukes of Hazard” is no longer so innocent.

Now it symbolizes two totally different and incompatible things to whites and blacks. Many Southern whites still see it as a symbol of the battlefield bravery of their ancestors, or as a romantic symbol of their Southern heritage and culture.

Meanwhile, for obvious reasons, the exact same flag is an insult to blacks. Many of their ancestors were slaves when the flag was first waved in battle. And then, though freed, for the next 100 years their grandparents and parents were treated as second-class Americans by racist state governments that incorporated the Confederate symbol in their official flags.

If you can’t understand why the black citizens of the South might consider the old Confederate battle flag an insult today, ask yourself how a German Jew would react to seeing a swastika fluttering proudly in front of the Reichstag in 2015.

The Confederate flag deserves no place of honor on government property in America. It never did. But, as usual, some have gone overboard with political correctness.

Amazon and Wal-mart made fools of themselves when they announced that because of the Confederate flag flap they were going to stop selling products that carry its image.

The TV Land channel was just as idiotic when it pulled episodes of “The Dukes of Hazard.” NASCAR hasn’t banned Confederate flags at its races, but it still might. At least the Confederate flag hasn’t been outlawed. And the First Amendment hasn’t been repealed.

If Confederate flag worshippers want to fly their colors, they are still free to do so on their own property. Or they can make their own flags and put them on their T-shirts or pickup trucks or sell them at flea markets and gun shows. Meanwhile, let’s try to get back to things that really matter in this election season.

Our economy is still a wreck. We have too few good full-time jobs and way too many people on unemployment, food stamps and welfare. We have to come up with sensible ways to reform immigration, health care and Social Security/Medicare. High debt and heavy taxes are going to turn us into Greece.

We don’t know yet how our presidential wannabes plan to fix immigration or healthcare. Or how they plan to defeat ISIS or get the economy back on track after eight years of Obama. All we know for sure so far is what they think about the Confederate flag.

Michael Reagan is the son of President Ronald Reagan, a political consultant, and the author of “The New Reagan Revolution”