Is THIS The New Terrorist Flag?

Image by Maureen via flickr, available under a Creative Commons license.
Image by Maureen via flickr, available under a Creative Commons license.

A Mississippi man threw a bomb into his local Wal-Mart in protest of the removal of the Confederate flag from its shelves. Marshall Leonard, usually seen driving his rusted out car with the four-foot Confederate flag dragging behind it, has unwittingly become the newest terrorist rallied by the flag.

Leonard’s violence in supporting the Confederate flag is not new.

If you can believe it (sarcasm– of course you can believe it), this isn’t the first time someone used violence to support the Confederate flag. Most notably, a KKK rally in July became violent when the new Black Panther party decided to hold a counter protest. Before this, in June, Confederate flag supporters started a brawl at a rally in South Carolina. Both of those violent outbreaks appear tame next to when Dylann Roof opened fire on a black church. His stated motivation? He wanted to make America great again. His choice of flag while making the statement should look familiar because it is the same flag that Leonard used as his reasoning to bomb Wal-Mart.

Credit: Marshall Leonard by WJTV footage.
Credit: Marshall Leonard by WJTV footage.

The Confederate flag is a symbol of hate.

We all know the “Dukes of Hazzard Argument” saying that they were just “good ol’ boys.” They never meant anyone harm. Apparently, folks who use that reasoning forget that this is the flag the KKK uses at rallies. Those people also tend to forget that this is the flag that Alabama Governor George Wallace raised in protest against desegregation. Let that one sink in a bit. Sure, we all know the KKK are a bunch of clunk heads, but Wallace wasn’t an idiot–he was a racist bigot, but he wasn’t an idiot. He chose that flag as a symbol of “Southern Supremacy” and one that directly correlated to his beliefs that black people weren’t people at all.

Maybe it’s time to admit we have a problem. The problem starts in schools and families. It is bolstered by peer groups and supported by internet hate mongers.

Marshall Leonard should never have gotten to the point where bombing a store seemed like a logical step. The nation has failed him. Not because the Confederate flag isn’t being sold at Wal-Mart, but we failed him because we let a child grow up to believe that a symbol of hate is worth killing over.

Removing the flag isn’t enough. We need to talk about this openly. We need to bring an honest dialog on the table. Until then, we are guilty of condoning the culture that supports such hatred.

Jo Szewczyk is an American scholar who earned his PhD from Lancaster University in the UK. He is currently an ex-pat American living in Montreal, Canada where he spends his time with his cat, Chuck Finley.