The South Carolina legislature is currently discussing the removal of the Confederate Battle Flag from their Capitol grounds. To me, the fact that it is even a question over 150 years after the Civil War ended is astonishing. In the most basic sense, the Civil War was fought because the South evolved into an agrarian society while the North became industrial. The Antebellum South’s economy was based on slavery. Like now, there was a huge concentration of wealth. Less than one percent of the population (11,000) owned 50 or more slaves and half of the slaves lived on plantations with 20 or more slaves. The politics of the time were geared towards serving the needs of the wealthy planter class…slave ownership and expansion of slave-holding territory, lower tariffs and minimal taxation (because there was virtually no public education, nearly 20% of Southern whites were illiterate in 1850). Because the one-percenters were interested only in protecting their wealth and the means to produce it, they became skilled propagandists. They fueled the growing “nationalism” or pride in the Southern way of life before the Civil War. The wealthy slave owners changed the dialogue about slavery from a “necessary evil” to a position that the race was inferior and the Slaves were better off than their Northern counterparts, the “wage slaves”, who had no one to take care of them when they were ill or old. The wealthy pointed to the enemies (like abolitionists) who surrounded the South and wanted to take away their way of life (never mind that most of the White, and virtually all of the Black, population lived in poverty). Most importantly, during the 1850’s they embarked on creating Southern self-sufficiency, particularly in cultural and religious matters to feed the growing sense of Southern pride. It was that dangerous mix of greed, ignorance and pride that eventually led to the call for succession and the right for the South to create their own country….and the deaths of 620,000 men. This is what the Confederate Battle flag represents and it is nothing to be proud of. Those Southerners who fought for a myth created by a wealthy elite were duped–just like those who continue to celebrate this racist heritage today. It’s 2015, America should be better than this by now. It is time to address the racial and income inequalities and work towards a better future…and not keeping repeating the past.