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South Carolina's Confederate flag is still flying. It's an insult to Charleston's victims.

The Confederate flag on statehouse grounds in Columbia, in 2008.
The Confederate flag on statehouse grounds in Columbia, in 2008.
Chris Hondros/Getty Images
Zack Beauchamp is a senior correspondent at Vox, where he covers ideology and challenges to democracy, both at home and abroad. Before coming to Vox in 2014, he edited TP Ideas, a section of Think Progress devoted to the ideas shaping our political world.

Wednesday night, a white man walked into a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina, and shot nine parishioners. Today, a Confederate flag is flying on the grounds of the South Carolina statehouse in Columbia — as it does every day. While the flags on top of the statehouse itself are flying at half-mast, the Confederate flag (displayed at a Civil War memorial) is flying at full mast.

This is more than just an awkward juxtaposition. As Cornell historian Edward Baptist explains in a series of chilling tweets, the Confederate flag isn't just a symbol of the pro-slavery rebellion, it's also a symbol of post-Civil War white supremacy — including the KKK and other groups that expressed that supremacy violently, at times by attacking black churches. That it's flying today, after what Charleston police are describing as a hate crime, is profoundly ugly:

The flag is still a live controversy in South Carolina. In October 2014, Governor Nikki Haley defended it as unproblematic for the state's business, saying, "I can honestly say I have not had one conversation with a single CEO about the Confederate flag."

WATCH: President Obama speaks about South Carolina

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