Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Fine. I'm Intolerant: Part Deux

Photo by Fibonacci Blue
If you read my blog yesterday, you'll know that I'm being facetious. Because I'm intolerant of intolerance, that makes me intolerant...er...at least that's what some people have said. Some joking, some maybe not? Who knows. Anyway, it's because of these statements:
  • I believe in marriage equality.
  • I do not like not practice racism.
  • I believe waving a confederate battle flag is a slap in the face to all African Americans and their ancestors who worked so hard for their civil rights.
Yesterday I spoke about marriage equality. Today, racism and the Confederate battle flag (Southern Cross). I believe if you want to wave your battle flag after what has gone on this past couple weeks, let alone the last few hundred years, you are either ignorant or racist. 

There are those who call it "heritage and pride." Mostly because they had an ancestor fight for the confederacy.


Heritage. Your ancestor fought for the Confederacy. Against his own country. What was happening at the time was not tyranny,  as with the Revolutionary War. It was one part of the country still wanting to be able to own people for self serving reasons, and the other side saying, that's not okay. One side that so desired slavery that they tried to secede from the Union. One president saying, nope, not happening. The cost of your ancestors defending the right to own slaves cost 625,000 American lives.


The war started when a Confederate army opened fire on Fort Sumter, claiming it as its own. The North originally wanted a "little" war to restore the Union. It had to turn into full on destruction of the South and its institution of slavery. The nation had to be reunited and reborn, free of slavery.

Confederate president Jefferson Davis tried to flee as his armies were surrendering. Not very brave behavior for a leader. He was caught and the rest of the confederate army collapsed.

Pride. So, after reading the above, is this flag really a symbol of pride? I don't want to hear the "The battle flag isn't the national flag of the Confederacy," argument. Who cares? Both are representative of a nation torn apart by slavery. Are you proud that your ancestors tried to keep slavery alive? Are you proud that so many people had to lose their lives to defend the freedom of others? The Confederate flag is not a symbol of pride; it's a symbol of shame.

The flag after the war was flown only on occasion at events honoring confederate soldiers. However,  there was a surge of reappearances during the struggle for civil rights and desegregation. It's said that it's first return was in South Carolina in 1948 when Strom Thurmond ran for president under what was known as the Dixiecrat party. Article 4 of its platform was, "We stand for segregation of the races."

After the Supreme Court ruling on Brown vs. Board of Education, and when desegregation started,
Little Rock 9 Protest
the flag surfaced more and more. Then in 1961, to honor the 100th anniversary of the onset of the civil war, South Carolina flew it over its capitol. (It was moved in 2000, but was still on capitol grounds. There's more to that story, but you can find out on your own).

Some southern states even incorporated one of the Confederate flags into their own state flag.

So I repeat, if you want to continue to wave your Confederate battle flag, you are either ignorant or racist.

I had someone, a transplant to the south, debate this with me: People are trying to erase it from history. I think we know that it can't be erased from history.  His point was that Apple stopped selling video games based on the  Civil War.  In my opinion, perhaps that is going to far. There are many historically accurate games and you can't erase history, I don't know. But I do applaud stores from discontinuing the sale of the Southern Cross. The flag, like the Nazi flag, belongs in history books and museums, not flying high at state buildings, in front of people's homes, or in the back of a pickup truck. He also told me that support of the flag wanes with every generation, which is good to hear.

I applaud Bree Newsome, the activist that climbed the pole on the South Carolina capitol grounds and removed the Confederate battle flag. That was a brave act of civil disobedience. She was immediately arrested of course. Someone offered her bounty money, which she refused. Instead she had it donated to support the victims of the Charleston church massacre. She wants everyone to keep in mind, this act was not about one woman. In her own words. "We made this decision because for us, this is not simply about a flag, but rather it is about abolishing the spirit of hatred and oppression in all its forms."

It comes down to respect. Even if you disagree with me on what the Confederacy battle flag symbolizes, you have to realize that an entire race (and supporters) finds its image oppressive. If you respect African Americans and the battles they and their ancestors have encountered throughout the years, take your flag down. It's the neighborly thing to do. It's the right thing to do.  Especially after the Charleston shooting and the burning of southern churches. For many people in this country, the battle flag is nothing but a reminder of the victimization and slavery of blacks, and that racism unfortunately still exists in our "civilized" society.
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John Messina, Personal Injury Attorney

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