This past month marked 150 years since the end of the Civil War, a long and bloody conflict fought over slavery. Others may point to economics, succession, autonomy or federal government overreach, but all of it went back to a disagreement about whether or not one should own a fellow human being. Racial animus, indeed, has kept alive a romanticized view of the old Confederacy, a haunting reminder of the indefensible atrocities that occurred in the antebellum south.
Last Wednesday, Dylann Roof shot and killed nine people at a historical African-American church in Charleston, South Carolina, according to police. The event has prompted countless national figures to re-examine their thoughts on prominent displays of the Confederate battle flag in Dixie, namely across the state from the South Carolina State Capitol.
The attack has also placed new attention on this University's own ties to a shameful and racist past. As the editorial board of the Texan noted last semester, a statue of Jefferson Davis — the president of the Confederacy — has no place on this campus. We applauded Student Government's effort to bring the statue down then. Today, it is imperative that the student body continue acknowledging their opposition to extending adulation to such racist, treasonous individuals. President Gregory Fenves is now reportedly considering carrying out the goal of the SG resolution and influential policymakers, such as U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), have even stepped up in support of relocating the statue.
Sadly, the dark undertones of hate are still ubiquitous throughout much of the south, including Texas. And the statue of Davis is far from the only reminder of the Confederacy — and its support for slavery — around campus. Many other Confederate leaders are honored and, just south of campus, there is a grand monument to those who fought for "state’s rights," as the plaque disingenuously puts it, at the state Capitol.
It is indeed ludicrous to believe that a flag, even one of traitors and racists, is the inspiration of what could only be called an act of domestic terrorism. It is even a bit far-fetched to insinuate that the attack is what renders the symbols inappropriate; indeed, they have always been inappropriate.
Whether it is a flag in South Carolina or a statue in Austin, the time has long since passed to honor leaders of the Confederacy.
Horwitz is a government senior. He is the Senior Associate Editor.
Update: A former version of this story stated that a white supremacist allegedly committed a hate crime by murdering nine people. It has since been updated to reflect that an FBI investigation into the alleged hate crime is pending and a jury has not yet convicted Roof of murder. Additionally, Roof is no longer described as a white supremacist; although his manifesto promotes racist beliefs, this publication refrains from the use of such labels. We deeply regret these errors.