The race by lawmakers in South Carolina and other states to remove the Confederate flag from public display is a misguided attempt to bury the nation's warts-and-all history, says Alan Keyes, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
Keyes, a three-time GOP presidential candidate, told "The Steve Malzberg Show" in an interview Tuesday on Newsmax TV
that people shouldn't forget that the American flag also has a controversial past as well.
"It's absurd. The American flag, the one we revere, used to fly on slave ships plying the slave trade back and forth," he said.
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"The intervening history involved a great deal of sacrifice of blood and toil on the part of Americans, including a lot of sacrifice, by the way, on the part of Southern people who fought against the Union, which I of course disagree with, but who consciously believe they were defending their state's liberty.
"I thought we had spent a lot of time healing those wounds, but whenever these politicians want to reopen them, they act as if Robert E. Lee and others who fought bravely under that flag of the Confederacy were simply doing some evil work regardless of the liberty they thought they were toiling. That's a shame."
Efforts to remove the Confederate flag from the grounds of the South Carolina Statehouse in Columbia accelerated this week following the murder of nine black churchgoers in Charleston by a white racist who had posed for pictures with the flag.
Keyes wondered if one day we will apply the same argument to abortion to remove the American flag.
"Fifty, sixty years from now when America has, I pray, come to its senses about killing innocent babies in the womb, you think they ought to ban the American flag that now flies over that atrocity because people in this country were going down a path that sanctioned it as if it were some kind of right — when in fact it's the deepest kind of wrong?" he said.
"We ought to be more forgiving of the history of our past because we're laying a record that is going to come in for deeper [scrutiny] in the future."
Keyes also noted that while politicians are champing at the bit in anger, the families of some of the victims have forgiven the alleged killer, Dylann Roof, for his horrifying killing spree.
"Because of their Christian hearts and faith [they] have looked the individual in the eye with the forgiveness that Christ demands. Yes? And yet all the politicians are ready to tar and feather one another for supposed crimes because you're not coming out about this and about that," he said.
"They ignore the spirit of Christ. They ignore what I think is the real focus of this whole episode, which is more about Christianity than it is about race. More about what's happening to our faith than about what is being done by a deranged … individual now being treated as if he represents every white person in America."
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