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Cervantes: Progress, peace, and the sacrifices needed to achieve it

BY CHRISTOPHER CERVANTES | JUNE 29, 2015 5:00 AM

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When it comes to patriotism, I find it quite easy to say that I love my country. I love that I am able to speak my mind and have those thoughts printed for the masses to either enjoy or despise. I love the various freedoms that are given to the citizens and that we grow in order to determine that no one group of people is subjected to unjust biasness and restrictions (i.e., June 26).

Overall, I find the United States to be a wonderful country to grow up in. However, that does not mean that I turn a blind eye to the less-than-noble indiscretions and dealings of the past. A prime example is the recent controversy of the Confederate flag and the highly publicized dispute that has once again shown its face.

Many reputable individuals have spoken up because of the brewing political storm. NAACP President Cornell Brooks said, “[The NAACP says] this not because we’re trying to sow division but rather because we’re trying to sow unity — a unity of purpose, a unity of commitment, a unity of resolve — so that we confront the racism in our midst. And that means, certainly symbolically, we cannot have the Confederate flag waving in the State Capitol.”

Counteractively though, former North Carolina NAACP President H.K. Edgerton was found waving the infamous flag, describing why he believed in upholding the Southern tradition. He insisted that it was a symbol of honor and dignity in the black community and that the flag united the people of the South. “This is our flag,” Edgerton said.

Being a California native of mixed white and Latino descent, I find myself to be the outsider in this situation. That being said, I believe with all certainty that I know what must be done.

The most common defense that I’ve found for retaining the Confederate flag is that its creation did not stem out of racism. That may be, but that does not exempt it.

Take, for example, the manji, which is a sacred symbol of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. Conversely, it is more commonly known in the Western hemisphere as the swastika. Because of the sordid history that goes with it, manji is now the product of censorship in many forms of media and popular culture.

The Confederate flag is like the manji. Despite its origins, it will forever hold the negative connotation of oppression of African Americans and the torrid slave trade that had a twisted economic base in the United States. It is now cemented into the public’s mind as a symbol of oppression.

This is a difficult topic to fully decide upon all because it deals with a removal of an icon that has been a constant in Southern life. Then again, so was the institution of slavery. This is a crucial time in our nation’s history, a time for positive change and unity. In the name of progress and national unity, the flag should be removed from its post.


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