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Column: Fly flags to unite, not divide

I?ve noticed around the city in which I live that people have been flying the Confederate flag at half-staff. At this time, I really think that the Confederate flag is inappropriate. That flag represents a time in the history of this country when we were violently divided. This is a time when we need to be united as Americans, regardless of what part of the country we are from or what color is our skin.

I know that writing this could be construed as stirring the pot of divisiveness. Some people consider the Confederacy to be part of their heritage. That?s fine. But the Confederate flag is not the American flag and should not be treated as such. It was the flag of a faction of Americans not really considered a country. It had no foreign recognition (it was given belligerent status by six countries). Some American generals treated the Confederacy as a country when it allowed them to get away with something.

There were peace negotiations between America and the officials of the Confederacy, but they broke down when the American government refused to treat it as a negotiation between two nations. The stars and bars ceased to be relevant 136 years ago.

The Confederate flag is something stirring up controversy at a time when we really don?t need it. It implies that we?re different. It?s wrong, and it?s something that we don?t need right now. Anything bad that comes out of the attack on America is a victory for the terrorists. To me, the flag represents slavery and the death of thousands of Americans, Americans fighting Americans.

It might sound draconian to insist that somebody flies the American flag at half-staff or he flies nothing at all, but that?s basically how I feel. I know other countries lost people in the attack on the World Trade Center, so I understand if somebody from one of those countries flies their flag.

They are entitled since their country was attacked as well. But this brings me back to the fact that the Confederate flag does not represent an actual country. Certainly not one who lost people in the attack on Sept. 11.

I?m willing to think that the people flying the Confederate flag might think that the two are interchangeable. They might not have an American flag, so they just lowered the Confederate flag to half-staff. But I don?t happen to see it that way at all. The Confederate flag is, to me, almost as un-American as the attacks. People who fought under it refused to take the small steps necessary to regain their American citizenship.

I know it sounds corny and phony, but we should focus on the common heritage. We need to remember how the country has pulled together in the past. After Pearl Harbor, we pulled together as a country and fought a war for freedom.

Then we went back to segregation. We?re in a place in our history where we should be able to look past everything that?s separated us in the past.

America has never been attacked like this, and we?ve never had a need to pull together like this. There?s an enemy who?s making no distinctions between what part of America we?re from. No distinctions between color or sexual orientation. I think, finally, we need to do the same and realize that we?re all Americans.

Chris Ricketts is a USF student.