The Confederate flag is not a complicated part of America’s history. Plain and simple, it is a representation of racist beliefs and actions that stretch from the Civil War until present times.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has come under fire for a picture taken in the 1990s at an alleged Sons of Confederate Veterans event. It features him posing in front of a Confederate flag with another member and smiling.
It is tangentially related to the governor of Virginia’s controversy. Gov. Ralph Northam has been in the news since an article published on Big League Politics allegedly showed a racist picture of him from his medical school’s yearbook.
One man was in blackface and another was wearing Ku Klux Klan robes. Northam apologized for being in the photo Friday, Feb.1, but then walked back his statement on Feb. 2, denying he was in the picture.
The photo McConnell was in had also surfaced in 2015, and was brought more into the mainstream in 2017 when the Kentucky Democratic Party tweeted the photo in an article published on Snopes.
It was brought to the public’s attention in 2015 when McConnell and other Republicans made a call to states to remove it, especially in Charleston, South Carolina, where the Charleston church shooting took place.
In a press release, McConnell had praised the decision to remove the flag.
“The Confederate Battle Flag means different things to different people, but the fact that it continues to be a painful reminder of racial oppression to many suggests to me at least that it’s time to move beyond it, and that the time for a state to fly it has long since passed. There should be no confusion in anyone’s mind that as a people we’re united in our determination to put that part of our history behind us,” the statement read.
A few days later, the photo surfaced for the first time.
Certainly, a person can take whatever kind of photos they want, but when you’re an elected official, you have to be held to a higher standard. At the core of it, these are adults who understand the potential consequences of racist actions, but choose to ignore it because of their white privilege.
There can be no more excuses made for indefensible behavior.
We have been allowing leaders in America to get away with racist actions for too long. There is no greater fracture in morality than allowing representatives to engage in harmful rhetoric that turns people against one another.
It’s easier to dismiss when we have a president who condones this kind of behavior, and is someone who even participates in it to gain support across his constituents.
McConnell should not only offer an apology, but he should step down as well. He should have done so when the photo first resurfaced in 2015.