Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The so-called #confederate flag

Quite a vocal debate has ensued since that disgusting, racially-motivated murder by the young fool in Charleston, which took the lives of nine innocent Americans at church. The most prominent leaders across the political spectrum have weighed in.

Foremost, I must say that I'm not quite comfortable with what it says about our society that we are already talking about flags and abstract meanings rather than good people's lives ended much too soon by ignorance. Nevertheless, the flag topic is on the table, and I must offer comment, because there is an awful (and I do mean awful) lot of misunderstanding about the 'confederate flag" and the 'southern heritage' that some falsely claim that it represents. It represents something far more insidious, and its continued presence is deliberate for that reason.

At issue are actually four flags. It is important to note this detail, if we really attempt to understand what hateful disease was festering in the mind of this young fool, as opposed to simply sinking him to the bottom of the ocean and forgetting that he ever happened. (Which is tempting... but we do need to try to effect some good from this awful event, if at all possible.)

One flag that confounded this young fool's brain is the current American flag, which, of course, represents national unity. Obviously, the concept of people from different races and religions coming together to help each other through shared commitment to civility did not reach the young fool, during whatever inadequate upbringing he had. And so the young fool trampled and burned our flag.

Then there are the [apartheid-era] South African and Rhodesian flags that he wore, which represented two precarious regimes in a part of the world where this young fool has actually never tread. No one can assume that he knows what they represent. I happen to know a thing or two about those two flags, but will save that for another thread. Let's proceed to the main topic of discussion.

And then there is the so-called "confederate flag"... which isn't actually the confederate flag, and never was... and was in fact rejected for that purpose. What some southerners now call the "confederate flag" was at best a northern Virginia battle flag used by Robert E. Lee during the confederacy. Moreover, the familiar design offered by pro-slavery racist William Porcher Miles has little if anything to do with southern heritage. Of course, the rebel flag and its meaning have changed over time, and it now represents many things to many people. To me the rebel flag represents a backward mentality that I cannot tolerate... because it is by its own nature intolerant. I do not apologize for this strong point of view.

In the context of the recent discussions about the controversial "confederate flag," I have read the term "southern heritage" tossed about. We are supposed to believe that the flag somehow represents the south or at least its history. But I can think of *many* more positive symbols of southern-ness than a flag designed by a pro-slavery racist in the 1800s. Do people claim there is really nothing more positive to represent the south and its heritage than the rebel/confederate/battle flag? If so, that is sad for America and even sadder for the south.

God bless the United States.

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