I was born in Texas, grew up believing — and still believe — that Robert E. Lee was one of the finest men ever to draw breath. As a boy, whenever I daydreamed about the Civil War, I always wore a gray uniform. To me, the Confederate battle flag has never had any racially charged meaning. Still, I now believe that it shouldn’t be flown above the South Carolina state capitol.

We have to recognize that the flag sends an ambiguous message. It is certainly true that it can signify Southern heritage. But to many people, it showed opposition to desegregation when it was first raised by the state in 1962. And to some, the flag still signifies continued racism and the opposition to equal rights for blacks and whites. After all, 38 percent of South Carolinians voted against the repeal of a miscegenation ban in the state constitution — in 1998.

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