Weeks before murderer Dylann Roof killed nine people in a Charleston church, he uploaded to his Facebook page a photo of himself with a very small confederate flag. The flag's position and lack of prominence gives the sense that the flag was added as an after thought.
Since that fateful day, the flag has generated more news media coverage than the actual murders Dylann Roof is charged with, or the lives of the victims he took.
Just days after Roof's murderous assault South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley called for the flag's removal from the South Carolina statehouse lawn.
At the moment before Haley spoke the words: "Today we are here in a moment of unity in our state without ill will to say it is time to remove the flag from our capitol grounds," it seemed like a good idea, a thoughtful gesture and an appropriate consolation and response to the unusual and seldom encountered white on black violence.
However, the immediate reaction of raucous applause, hoots and yammering saw Haley visibly cringe, and for her the sudden realization that maybe this was not such a good idea, as the words "without ill will" were quickly forgotten.
Indeed her call to remove the flag began an unintended tidal wave of hysteria and ill will over the flag, confederate monuments, leaders, generals and heroes, alike.
Much forgotten reminders of our past, faded words carved in stone and rusty images cast in bronze, things that no one gave much notice, suddenly became visible, prominent and now suddenly offensive. Overnight monuments forgotten by time even though passed by daily, became a target for hate and vandalism in the name of civil disobedience.
Silent Sam, a statue that has stood on the Chapel Hill Campus for more than 100 years honoring the 321 UNC Chapel Hill alumni who lost their lives in the American Civil War, was targeted last week by hate and ill will. The speech and actions directed at Sam are unquestionably hate. Vandals spray painted "Murderer, KKK, and Black Lives Matter" defacing the statue.
Huffinton Post blogger Julie Craven says "When I first laid eyes on Silent Sam, he made me uncomfortable. As I looked up at the Confederate soldier who stands watch over students in the upper quad of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, I wondered if the university where I chose to spend four years of my life still secretly supported the legacy he represents." Her recent prose wanders between nonsense and the racially divisive idea that Baltimore Police are trained KKK assassins.
Nikki Haley's call to remove the confederate flag has clearly spurred a wave of vandalism and hate as well as lunacy. What Haley also did, was to validate the KKK's use of the flag, and confirm to the nation that the flag stood for slavery, segregation, racism and hate and in doing so confirm that at least up until 2015 the State of South Carolina supported this idea. She simply confirmed that the flag was raised above the statehouse dome, not to honor the 100th anniversary of the civil war and in support states rights but to oppose civil rights and further the "Southern Cause" thereby discrediting those of southern roots who claimed heritage not hate.
And in the process she pressed enough hot buttons to stir up vile hatred that branded every person not supporting the removal of the flag as a member of a murderous bed sheet covered hate group, causing nutbags like Ms Craven to suggest the UNC "secretly supports" racism, and throwing around the word treason with abandon.
During the last decade, the flag that most people recognized for either "hold my beer, watch this" stupid or belonging to civil war re-enactors suddenly became a viable symbol again to define an "US vs Them" culture that has been heating to a boil since our President decided to tell the nation that if he "had a son he'd look like Trayvon Martin".
Now a great effort to cleanse the south of itself is underway. The grey uniforms of the South Carolina Highway Patrol have been called into question, the Belk name under attack as several Belk brothers fought on the Southern side at Gettysburg.
"Dig up his grave" suggested the Richmond head of the NAACP when asked what to do about CSA President Jefferson Davis who is buried at nearby Hollywood Cemetery.
Atlanta's NAACP head proposed "sand blasting" away the images of J.E.B. Stuart, Stonewall Jackson and Jefferson Davis from Stone Mountain.
An effort to remove confederate memorials from Mecklenburg county property has met substantial opposition to which led local agitator Laurel Green to promise that if the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners didn't remove that monuments "ppl would".
The National Park Service and the National Cemetery Administration of the United States Department of Veterans Affairs have both under the direction of President Obama banned the Confederate Flag.
What Dylann Roof wanted was a race war, sadly what he got was much worse. In only a few weeks he caused the hands of time to run backwards to a point where people are suspicious of each other for only the colors of their flag and not the content of their character.
So much for "Without ill will".