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Letter: Flag should come down, but introspection needed

Flag should come down, but introspection needed

As a South Carolinian living in Buffalo since 1999, I’ve read the letters and editorials in The News and other publications about the Confederate flag.

For years I favored keeping the flag flying, my opinion tempered by Southern pride (still burning fiercely) and my passionate interest in the Civil War. Now, after writing five books about the conflict and the wisdom of age, I agree that the banner is greatly divisive, hijacked by hate groups.

I cried watching the surreal horror of the Charleston massacre, knowing firsthand the pure goodness of these fine black people in the many churches across that state. Whose hearts but those of hateful monsters didn’t melt in sympathy for the faith and amazing graceful forgiveness of the victims’ families?

The flag should come down now. But why has there never been similar wild-eyed hysteria about the U.S. flag, which represents myriad atrocities, including slavery?

The hypocrisy of some writers is both amusing and irritating. They live in Buffalo, one of America’s most segregated cities. Their viewpoints are not only naïve but self-serving. One of my first memories here is of having never seen so many white folks in the same area at one time.

So thump your chests and spew your empty words. You’ll feel better about yourself. Then face your own history: Klan marches in Niagara Falls, the 1967 race riots, the million-plus YouTube hits for “Blatant Racism in Cheektowaga” in 2014 and the racial tensions in Lovejoy. Take a look in the mirror. It never lies.

Derek Smith

Williamsville