06/22/2015 05:20 pm ET Updated Jun 19, 2016

Why Take Down a Historic Flag?

In 1983, the New Mexico State University Board of Regents forced the students to change the name of their yearbook in what many observers considered to be an act of political correctness. The publication was named after an ancient Zuni Pueblo symbol and the school had been using the same label since 1907. The students wanted to retain the tradition but the regents overruled them, saying that the use of the Indian art form was insensitive. The emblem had a complicated history not understood by many outsiders, who only saw it through their late-20th-century eyes. Even though it meant one thing to the Zuni people, it represented something very different to everyone else because it had been adopted by the National Socialist Party when it came into power in Germany in the 1930s. NMSU's yearbook was called the Swastika.

Symbols and flags do not always retain their original meanings. When emblems are embraced by Nazis or KKK lynch parties, their messages change and no amount of nuanced argument or consideration of their full history will alter that fact. Whatever the Confederate flag may have represented in the past, it is now understood by most people to stand for hate and racism. There is no reason to treat it any differently than we treat the Nazi Swastika. #TakeItDown