Ideas are similar to weapons. Though they do not inflict direct physical damage on people, they can cause people to use weapons to damage others.
Similar to ideas, is the use of symbols. Like ideas and weapons, symbols can cause damage. Additionally, they may also change over time. During one time period, a symbol could stand for love and growth; during another time period, it could stand for hate and destruction.
The swastika, for example, once meant good things to those in Germany during the early 20th Century. To Germans during that time period, it meant love and a sense of community.
But to other groups of people, the swastika meant something entirely different. It meant hate, despair, death, etc.
Today, the swastika is a symbol of a past nobody wishes to repeat. A past where government and the State was used recklessly, leading to the deaths of millions. More importantly, it's a symbol that we as human beings don't glamorize anymore. We don't debate its use or nonuse. It's shown in movies and video games, described in countless stories. Yet we don't call for the prohibition of its use. Instead, we choose - voluntarily - to not give this symbol its previous power. We don't let this symbol control us; telling us that we are powerless in its presence. Indeed, we have beaten this symbol almost entirely.
In contrast, is the rebel or confederate flag. It is a symbol much like the swastika; one that often invokes great emotion - whether good or bad natured. And, unlike the swastika, we let it consume us almost entirely. It leads to anger, division, and often hatred. Its presence can influence or lead to crimes - whether theft or trespass by climbing a flag pole or the horrible massacre of almost a dozen innocent individuals. Why do we do this? Can we not put it in the history books as we did with the swastika?
One of the greatest contributors to this stark difference, this inability to lessen the power of the confederate flag is the State. It is the State that created laws to protect the confederate flag. It is the state that requires its use in public buildings across the nation. In contrast is the market. Very few stores - if any - boast a confederate flag in their buildings. And, even if they do, a quick outcry by consumers immediately changes this (just look at how fast Apple and Amazon stopped selling confederate flags). Yet people still view the market as an evil place - even more evil than the State!
But we must remember that it is the State that - not only presents the confederate flag in buildings and flag posts throughout the nation - but is also the entity that created this symbol of hatred. It was the State that used the flag in wartime. It was the State that used it after the Civil War to commemorate its fallen soldiers. It was a State that later intervened in schools that contributed to increased use of the rebel flag by the State no less. And, it is the State that continues to fly the flag in public places throughout the United States.
It's important to remember, however, that like the swastika, the rebel flag is a symbol that only carries power if we allow it. I suggest we don't allow it to control us, to divide us, to conquer us. I suggest we put it in the history books with the swastika, but use it to remember the power of the State and the often negative consequences of its intervention.