Published Jun 24, 2015Killer Mike has become respected political commentator as of late, weighing in on issues like the uprisings in Ferguson and the violence in Baltimore, and even considering a career in politics. Now, the Run the Jewels rapper has weighed in on the Confederate flag in an essay for The Fader.
The controversial flag is a hot-button issue at the moment due to the tragic massacre in Charleston, SC (on June 17); photos have emerged of killer Dylann Roof posing with the Stars and Bars, which has reaffirmed the flag as a symbol of racial oppression. (Making matters worse, the Confederate Flag at the South Carolina State House was not flown at half-mast following the incident.) The Governor of South Carolina, Nikki Haley, has called for the flag to be removed from the capital, and various states and businesses have distanced themselves from the symbol.
Naturally, Mike opposes the use of the flag in public spaces, but not for the reason you might think. He says that the flag represents a group who attempted to separate from the United States during the Civil War, and that it is consequently the "rebel flag" of "heinous traitors." Since the Confederates lost the Civil War, American taxpayers shouldn't have to pay for the losers' flag to be flown on publicly funded property.
As for its private use — in homes or on articles of clothing — Mike says he has "no problem" with it, and understands that make folks see it as a part of their heritage. That being said, he does acknowledge the flag's racial overtones, saying that it has been "used as a way to intimidate black people." State governments are fully aware of these implications, and yet they continue to display the flag and "enforce a sick and perverse mentality."
He advocates voting against politicians who continue to perpetrate this "terror state" and boycotting the corporations who back these same politicians. This is a much more moderate response to the tragic Charleston shooting than Mike previously espoused, as he tweeted that he would "NEVER be pro gun control" and wrote, "I wish those folks in that church had been armed."
Read Mike's latest essay below.
My opinion on the Confederate flag is quite simple and clear. I have no problem with Southerners who consider that a part of their heritage flying it privately in their homes or [wearing it] on their shirts or jackets. Even if that's your choice of vanity license plate, you pay a tax for your license plate in Georgia. So that's your tax, for your license plate. I have white friends who have the Confederate flag on their license plates and I have no issue with that, if they see that as a matter of heritage. But I do not think it should ever fly over a state, city, county building, or school, for the simple reason that it represents secession from the Union. It represented a part of the country trying to become a separate country from America. That side lost, and you do not fly the flags of losers over the winners' country. It's just that simple. There's no way around that.
An army took on the Union, an army lost. That nation, the Confederate states, lost. And if that flag — in terms of publicly or state-sponsored things, or local or county or city-sponsored things — should be forever wiped from the memory, because that side lost. If your great great grandfather participated on the Confederate side and you hold some sentimental value to that, and you want to fly the flag and hang their picture up in your home, that's fine. But it should not be on anything that taxpayers pay for, because taxpayers are a part of the Union not the Confederacy. It has no place in the building, no place on the building, no place around the building.
I remember going downtown [in Atlanta] to the State Capitol and protesting [the old Georgia flag, which incorporated the Confederate flag]. It came down [in 2001] under Governor Roy Barnes, one of our last Democratic governors. It was a very heated debate for a very long time. With that said, there are tons of Confederate flags in Georgia. Many of my neighbors have them. As a Southerner, I understand how it represents our heritage and lives lost in that war. I'll give you that at the negotiation table. But my firm stance is that any group of traitors, anyone who tried to break up this country, deserves no honor once they've lost.
Did the people who lost that war profit from slavery? Yes! Has that symbol been used by stupid, dumb redneck racists? Yes. Has it been used by neo-Nazis? Yes. Has it been used as a way to intimidate black people? Yes, absolutely. As a child, the Confederate flag was explained to me as a flag of racism, that there are often men who will use that flag to try to terrorize black people. My grandparents both were unafraid. My grandmother had been a part of the civil rights movement. She had grown up with her family in Alabama, in Tuskegee. They were always protected and sheltered. My father was a gun owner and protected his home as need be. I've never been afraid of that flag. I've never been afraid of white supremacists. I have been in situations where I knew I was around overt racism — I talked to them respectfully and we did our business and they talked to me respectfully back — but I have never walked around in fear, nor will I.
Dylann Roof certainly thinks [the Confederate flag] is racial, and there are people who are proponents for it because it's racial. But I don't give a damn if he wore it on his jacket. Why should I? That's his jacket. He has the right to wear the Confederate flag, the Rhodesian flag, or any other flag. What I care about is an environment where states like South Carolina will allow that flag to fly above their state building and they know that flag is used as a symbol of empowerment for white supremacy. I care that it's allowed to enforce a sick and perverse mentality by hanging atop a state building that taxpayers pay for. My primary objection to it is firmly grounded in a political argument, not an emotional one. It's less to do about me — "Hey, I'm black and it hurts my feelings, it's a symbol of slavery and oppression" — and more to do with the fact that, as an American, I will not honor a group of treacherous traitors. That's why I despise the rebel flag. Long live the South, and quickly die the Confederacy.
A terroristic act has been committed on Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church before, and has been committed on the black church for the last 400 years. We're familiar with these terrorists: they're called the Ku Klux Klan, and they've been called white supremacists. In this case they are trying to scapegoat it and call it a misguided young man. But in this case, [Roof is] a terrorist. He is a product of a terrorist propaganda that represents a caste system that hides itself behind race in this country. I see that mentality of terror as something that needs to be fought. There is no hope and no redemption for this young man. I have no forgiveness in my heart for him, and my hope is that he spends the rest of his life in prison or is quickly put to death behind the great and heinous act he did. There's no sympathy in my heart for him.
As a person who is a part of a minority group that has been terrorized, I feel like that minority group should seek every way possible to end that terror upon themselves. I feel like that terror is state sanctioned and that this minority group should deal with the state in terms of the voting booth. In the core of me I feel like, economically, there are corporations that have backed politicians that have kept the Confederate flag high and that have allowed the premise of white supremacy to stand. I think that [people] should attack those corporations economically by withholding money from them.