Monday, August 24, 2015

PAUSE FOR THOUGHT - MY THOUGHTS ON THE CONFEDERATE FLAG DEBATE

There has been a LOT of vehement discussion (including in my own household-I rent a room from dear friends in Georgia) over whether or not the Confederate flag should be allowed to fly over the South Carolina State Capital building.  In my additional thoughts below, I cut to the chase, but I included my original Facebook comment and a couple of the articles that spurred my commentary as well. 


MY FACEBOOK COMMENT: 

The confederate flag is the symbol of separatism and violent times that should have ended as soon as the Civil War ended.  There is no excuse to fly it anywhere today, especially in a state that just suffered a racial terroristic tragedy.  When I saw that flag flying over the capitol in SC it appeared to me that the SC state government condones supremacist attitudes.  They can come up with all the mealy-mouth excuses about tradition they want, but what it boils down to is that that flag stands for a society that kept half its population in chains.  There is no place for it in America today.  Not the America that I love and swear my allegiance to.  Take the confederate flag down - not because you're told to, but because it's the right thing to do, especially since nine people were just slaughtered.  Don't add insult to injury by flying a flag that symbolizes a society that would condone that.

My additional thoughts: 

The Confederate Flag is a symbol of a country that seceded from the United States of America and declared war on it.  That country lost its battle with the United States of America.  It was never part of the United States of America, it was the symbol of a country that declared war on the United States.  Its flag is no more a symbol of the United States or any individual state within it, than the Nazi flag, the ISIS flag, or the Japanese flag or any other country's flag that declared war on the United States.  To have it fly over any state capital is wrong.  The South, after declaring war on the United States of America LOST - well over a hundred years ago.  It's time to move on, just as the Germans and the Japanese have, in a much briefer amount of time.

This is a time in our country when terrorism is running rampant.  There are shootings on our military bases.  There are shootings in our schools, in our malls, and bombings in our streets and in our buildings.  We should not be bickering amongst ourselves and opening up old wounds and prejudices.  We should be coming together to defend ourselves and our future generations against outside threats and threats from infiltrators that are going unchecked.   Let's not allow ourselves to be played. 

Beneath are a couple of the articles I read that sparked my above commentary: 
THE POST I SHARED OF TOM CALEN
Tom Calen
After the initial shock of yesterday's terrorist attack, I'm now left with anger.
Anger at a society that taught a young man to hate and fear the different.
Anger at a "news" organization unwilling to admit facts because it fears offending its white supremacist viewers.
Anger that one political ideology wants to question the mental health of an "anti-social lone wolf" when that same ideology made no mention of that concern regarding another 21 year old terrorist who targeted a section of society at a marathon.
Anger that too few of my fellow citizens see the link between ISIS videos/propaganda/recruiting tools and the videos/propaganda/recruiting tools of white supremacists.
Anger that too few of my fellow citizens admit the underlying message in "Take our country back".
Anger that once again America will likely avoid the necessary conversation about racism and guns.
Anger that today the Confederate flag still flies at the capitol in South Carolina.


TAKE DOWN THE CONFEDERATE FLAG NOW
Last night, Dylann Roof walked into a Charleston church, sat for an hour, and then killed nine people. Roof’s crime cannot be divorced from the ideology of white supremacy which long animated his state nor from its potent symbol—the Confederate flag. Visitors to Charleston have long been treated to South Carolina’s attempt to clean its history and depict its secession as something other than a war to guarantee the enslavement of the majority of its residents. This notion is belied by any serious interrogation of the Civil War and the primary documents of its instigators. Yet the Confederate battle flag—the flag of Dylann Roof—still flies on the Capitol grounds in Columbia.
The Confederate flag’s defenders often claim it represents “heritage not hate.” I agree—the heritage of White Supremacy was not so much birthed by hate as by the impulse toward plunder. Dylann Roof plundered nine different bodies last night, plundered nine different families of an original member, plundered nine different communities of a singular member. An entire people are poorer for his action. The flag that Roof embraced, which many South Carolinians embrace, does not stand in opposition to this act—it endorses it. That the Confederate flag is the symbol of of white supremacists is evidenced by the very words of those who birthed it:
Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner-stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth...
This moral truth—“that the negro is not equal to the white man”—is exactly what animated Dylann Roof. More than any individual actor, in recent history, Roof honored his flag in exactly the manner it always demanded—with human sacrifice.
Surely the flag’s defenders will proffer other, muddier, interpretations which allow them the luxury of looking away. In this way they honor their ancestors. Cowardice, too, is heritage. When white supremacist John Wilkes Booth assassinated Abraham Lincoln 150 years ago, Booth’s fellow travelers did all they could to disassociate themselves. “Our disgust for the dastardly wretch can scarcely be uttered,” fumed a former governor of South Carolina, the state where secession began. Robert E. Lee’s armies took special care to enslave free blacks during their Northern campaign. But Lee claimed the assassination of the Great Emancipator was “deplorable.” Jefferson Davis believed that “it could not be regarded otherwise than as a great misfortune to the South,” and angrily denied rumors that he had greeted the news with exultation.
Villain though he was, Booth was a man who understood the logical conclusion of Confederate rhetoric:


"TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN":
Right or wrong. God judge me, not man. For be my motive good or bad, of one thing I am sure, the lasting condemnation of the North.
I love peace more than life. Have loved the Union beyond expression. For four years have I waited, hoped and prayed for the dark clouds to break, and for a restoration of our former sunshine. To wait longer would be a crime. All hope for peace is dead. My prayers have proved as idle as my hopes. God's will be done. I go to see and share the bitter end….
I have ever held the South were right. The very nomination of ABRAHAM LINCOLN, four years ago, spoke plainly, war—war upon Southern rights and institutions….
This country was formed for the white, not for the black man. And looking upon African Slavery from the same stand-point held by the noble framers of our constitution. I for one, have ever considered if one of the greatest blessings (both for themselves and us,) that God has ever bestowed upon a favored nation. Witness heretofore our wealth and power; witness their elevation and enlightenment above their race elsewhere. I have lived among it most of my life, and have seen less harsh treatment from master to man than I have beheld in the North from father to son. Yet, Heaven knows, no one would be willing to do more for the negro race than I, could I but see a way to still better their condition.
By 1865, the Civil War had morphed into a war against slavery—the “cornerstone” of Confederate society. Booth absorbed his lesson too well. He did not violate some implicit rule of Confederate chivalry or politesse. He accurately interpreted the cause of Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee, men who were too weak to truthfully address that cause’s natural end.
Moral cowardice requires choice and action. It demands that its adherents repeatedly look away, that they favor the fanciful over the plain, myth over history, the dream over the real. Here is another choice.
Take down the flag. Take it down now.
Put it in a museum. Inscribe beneath it the years 1861-2015. Move forward. Abandon this charlatanism. Drive out this cult of death and chains. Save your lovely souls. Move forward. Do it now.

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