Tuesday, June 23, 2015

why does it take a tragedy?

The powers-that-be in South Carolina absolutely puzzle me. I’ve tried to listen carefully to the people who revere the stars-and-bars flag as honoring their past, but for the life of me I can’t understand the inability to see the confederate flag as anything other than a symbol for white supremacy. The cancer of slavery has left scar tissue that still causes pain, structural inequalities and a festering racial divide—it was only a mere fifty years ago that Jim Crow laws were repealed by federal mandate.

Legitimate historians have never been able to support the revisionist stance that the civil war was primarily about states’ rights rather than slavery; Ta-Nehisi Coates’ brilliant article in the Atlantic Monthly clearly outlines that history. And if it was all about states rights, why did only slaveholding states secede? What’s more, slave-holding states pushed for federal involvement with the Fugitive Slave Act when northern states passed state laws granting sanctuary for fugitive slaves and their refusal to return them to their “owners”. So much for states rights.

Former governor and 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney tweeted “take down the #ConfederateFlag” last week, creating a media firestorm: Huckabee, Cruz, Rubio, Fiorina, Carson, Santorum all said it was an issue for South Carolina to resolve, apparently sidestepping the real issue for fear of upsetting potential support. And it’s not just politicians who have punted this issue. Only today did Walmart agree to stop selling merch with the confederate flag on it (come on, Amazon…).

The justification of slavery was an economically-driven choice that oddly enough only condemned dark-skinned people as property. The leaders of the confederacy clearly viewed blacks as an inferior race; South Carolina Senator James Hammond declared before the U.S. Senate in 1858 that “We do not think that whites should be slaves either by law or necessity. Our slaves are black, of another and inferior race.” The rallying symbol of the rebellion against the federal government was the Confederate flag; even at the very least it should be considered a symbol of treason.

Can you imagine Germany allowing one of its state governments to fly a swastika? Regardless of the German soldiers who had no knowledge of Auschwitz or were forced by conscription to serve and fought selflessly for their country, it still offers no grounds to fly the symbol of Nazi Germany and the Holocaust. The politicians there have worked hard to neither expunge that painful part of their history or deny it. But they certainly don’t want to honor it in any way.

The gazillion times I’ve driven I-71 north toward Columbus, it never fails to sadden me when I pass the old barn on the east side with the huge confederate flag painted on the roof. I always wonder why: why would someone want to take the time to reproduce an image of suffering and that causes so much pain to such a huge segment of humanity? What causes such a glaring lack of empathy?

As I Christian, I would say sin.


4 comments:

  1. Totally agree, Dave. Yeah for Mitt, boo for Huckabee. Time to get rid of that disgraceful memory.

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  3. The confederate flag represented the Confederate army. Yes they fought for slavery, but they lost and the flag is a part of our history. If you believe the confederate flag should be banned because of the awful things that were done for and because of it, then I think there are many other things that are connected with awful things.
    1. August 6th 1945 a total of 192,000 people were killed in HiroShima by an atomic bomb. Japan said that they surrendered, but America said they didn't hear them.
    2. August 9th 1945 America dropped another Atomic bomb killing 70,000 more people. It was then that they heard Japan surrender. That was an awful thing from the past that is connected to our flag. Should it be banned? Now, some may think that was about war and not the treatment of people, so let's look a little further back
    3. The Native Americans were stripped of their lands and way of life. Then they were treated like cattle forced on to certain reservations none by their choice. There were even times that they were hunted and killed by the soldiers that represented our flag. That is awful treatment of people should the American flag be banned?
    5. Ok so let's switch it up again. Let us look at the flag that has the cross on it. Should it be banned? I am sure it is well know what some states, cities and even countries did representing that flag. There were witch hunts and witch trials. The people who represented that flag would hold people underwater and if the died they weren't a witch. The only way to prove you weren't a witch was to drown. Should that flag be banned for all the people of other countries and beliefs that were killed because they would not become Christians? I'm simply saying it's our history, not our present and will never be our future as long as we never forget, we will know to never let it happen again. I don't stand for or represent the confederate flag. It is something from the past. I am a Veteran and I proudly stand with and for the American flag.

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  4. Cro Mag, my friend, you are dodging the question. Do you want symbols of racism and slavery proudly displayed? Just say so. The Confederacy's rallying point was slavery. It is what defined the states that seceded from the Union and, as you mention it flew over the armies that fought to uphold slavery. That is the what the flag meant then, and that is what it means now when white supremacists, racists, and murderers invoke it in support of their values. Are you in favor of flying it?

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