There are times when I wish I was a celebrity, or at least that this blog got several thousand page views a day, because I have something I want to say to everyone in America, something I want everyone to hear and listen to. Oh well, I’m going to say it anyway: Everyone just get a grip! (And read the whole thing, not just the parts you like or the parts you don’t like.)
I have things to say to people on both sides of the Confederate flag issue. First of all, you all need to understand that it means different things to different people. I keep seeing images of the flag on Facebook with the words, “If you are offended by this you don’t know history.” That is one of the most ridiculous things I have ever seen. If you can’t understand why some people find it not merely offensive but also deeply hurtful then YOU don’t know history. In fact, if you don’t understand that, you are shockingly, impossibly ignorant of history. Or else, you’ve just made up your own fantasy history or you are choosing to believe someone else’s fantasy history. Or, at best, you are picking and choosing the parts of history you like and ignoring the rest.
ON THE OTHER HAND, if you are one of the people who are offended by the Confederate flag, you need to understand that not everyone who displays it is racist. To some people it is a precious symbol of their culture. It’s not an exclusive culture and certainly not racist. Most of its members would be happy to let you in if you have a fondness for dirt roads, pickups, country music, hound dogs, cowboy boots and the like. And if not, they will still treat you decently even though they may not understand you. Most people who display the confederate flag really and truly do not care what race or ethnic group you belong to. Many of them come across as ignorant because they have had too little contact with people of other races but they are not intentionally racist.
Just because a lunatic carrying a confederate flag shot up a black church does not mean that every person who displays it is hateful. The U.S. flag has often been waved by people who believe that all Muslims should be murdered, gay people are going to Hell, all immigrants should be sent home, and all women should stay barefoot and pregnant and everyone understands that does not mean everyone who displays the U.S. flag is hateful. I know! I know! That is different. It really is. The Confederate flag carries a history that is undeniably one of racism and hatefulness but to the majority of the people who display it, it no longer holds that meaning. That is what you need to understand and accept.
And to those of you who are crying about the impending disappearance of your beloved symbol of the South: News flash! The Confederate flag has not been banned! Get a grip. Some states have decided to stop flying it in front of their state capitol buildings. So what? It has not been an official symbol of anything for over 150 years and does not belong in front of any official building. And several retailers have decided to stop selling it. So what? Retailers decide to stop selling products all the time, for all kinds of reasons. Given it’s popularity, there is no doubt that other businesses will spring up overnight for the express purpose of making and selling Confederate flags. And if you happen to think that it should be banned, you need to get a grip. Banning anything only makes it more popular. If you don’t know that then you really don’t know history.
Personally? I am from the south but I have no fondness for the confederate flag. I guess you could say that I find it slightly offensive. Even aside from the race issue, and in spite of the innocent things it represents to some people, I see it as representing a kind of willful ignorance. I would like to see people voluntarily give it up. But they won’t and that’s okay. Mostly, I think everyone should just leave everyone else alone. Let everyone have their symbols and don’t take anything too personally. After all, they’re only symbols. They don’t really mean anything at all.