Earlier this week, controversy originated in Marshall County and permeated the commonwealth as a recently installed Confederate flag could be seen flying in front of a courthouse in Benton.

A county commissioner said members of the local chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans purchased the flag to fly to recognize April as Confederate History Month.

Raoul Cunningham, president of the NAACP’s Louisville branch, told The Courier-Journal the community needed to cast aside a divisive symbol during what should be a time of unity as we all deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

There are a bevy of problems present.

First of all, Kentucky isn’t even one of the seven states to have regularly declared Confederate History Month. Those are Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas and Virginia. Kentucky, by the way, never officially seceded from the Union.

Secondly, the flag lost its true meaning long ago. Its reputation and symbol are forever tainted because of short-sighted, ignorant, hateful people — traits that unfortunately still exist among some.

In the late 1800s, the flag was intended to honor the Confederate dead and remember the “lost cause” of the Civil War. The “lost cause” theory, while wrong because it focuses on the preservation of the “Southern way of life” without factoring in slavery’s role, could be viewed — on the surface — as an innocuous reason for flying the flag.

However, by the time the 1940s and 1950s rolled around, the flag became a hate symbol.

The Ku Klux Klan presented it at lynching parties. Mobs of angry white people waved it vigorously and furiously as black children enrolled in public schools. Then, in June 2015, there was Dylann Roof, a Confederate flag-toting white supremacist who killed nine black people in a church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina.

Because of those awful people, and many like them, anything “good” about the Confederate flag was zapped. Poof! Gone.

The Confederate flag was forever ruined. It can’t be salvaged, therefore it shouldn’t be seen anywhere aside from Civil War monuments and museums.

It’s a symbol of history, sure, and many of those soldiers’ descendants want to remember their ancestors favorably. They still can in a variety of ways, but the Confederate flag — again, aside from monuments and museums — shouldn’t be one of them. Swap it out for the American Flag — capital F for freedom.

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