South Carolina’s confederate flag has come under intense scrutiny due to the recent actions of a certain racist asshole. Apparently last year, Governor Nikki Haley defended the confederate flag saying that CEOs do not have a problem with it.
I have two observations to make about this:
1. If a CEO is talking to the governor about moving their business to SC or has already moved their business to SC, they most likely had already decided the confederate flag was a non-issue for them, so why would they bring it up to the governor? The fact that CEOs aren’t talking to her about it doesn’t seem to say a whole lot about how CEOs in general feel about it.
2. Even if CEOs have no problems with the confederate flag, I know that SC is losing talent because of it. I know this because I know 4 extremely talented designers and software engineers from SC who left because of the blatant state sanctioned racism including the confederate flag. I also know that the confederate flag keeps talent away because although SC has the ideal climate for me and meets my requirements of being coastal, I refused to consider any jobs in that area because of the confederate flag. I will not tolerate living anywhere that is OK with prominently displaying a blatant symbol of racism. So even if CEOs are not complaining about the flag, it’s bad for business because it’s driving talent away, and businesses need talented people.
Now, I know some people claim that the confederate flag is not a symbol of racism and it’s about heritage, or it has some other meaning I’m not familiar with (I was not raised in the south, so I admit I may be ignorant on these things). Let’s assume that they are right and for some people the confederate flag has nothing at all to do with racism. I would argue that it does not matter what the flag means to some, if to the majority of people it represents racist ideology. Take the swastika: it had different meanings to different cultures, but you don’t see non-racists flying swastika flags and defending it as the ancient buddhist symbol of eternity, do you? No. Since the confederate flag is so closely associated with racism, it’s time for the non-racists who use it to mean something about heritage (or whatever they think it means) to pick a new symbol that does not have the hateful overtones of the confederate flag, unless they really don’t mind being associated with white supremacy…in which case I would argue that they are more racist than they think they are.