"Understanding" The Rebel Confederate Flag
Posted by Pile
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| Here's my take on the rebel flag controversy... I think people on both sides of the issue have some valid points, BUT the points are not equal in terms of pros/cons.
My first impression when I heard news that there was talk to outlaw the flag was, "Great, this will come in handy the next time someone kills nine people with a rebel flag. :/
It seemed like a shallow, pedantic reaction to what is ultimately a very complex social problem. Public and politicians going after the lowest of hanging fruit, a construct that ultimately nobody really gives a crap about. Not even your most fervent rebel-flag-wavers are going to be inconvenienced by the removal of a piece of cloth from a flag pole at their state capitals or a nearby Wal-Mart. So why bother? Will removal of a controversial symbol of racism, in effect eradicate racism? Obviously not.
But one thing it does do, in this age where people feel increasingly helpless and disenfranchised politically, is dramatically change a construct in the face of the state and our society and culture. It's a small victory, but it is an accomplishment nonetheless, in an age where people feel nothing ever changes. The first step towards bigger changes is the realization that they're a product of lots of smaller changes. And since there doesn't appear to be any more realistic alternatives right now, this is a good start.
More importantly, the eradication of the rebel flag as a symbol condoned and approved by our governments, means that those who hold it as a rallying cry for prejudice, cannot hide behind social acceptance; cannot suggest that intolerance is part of what our society is about, and thus cover their own immoral behavior.
I will continue to fight for each and every person's right to hold up whatever flag or symbol they desire. That freedom of expression should always prevail. If you want to tattoo a rebel flag on your arm, or hang one over your trailer, or proudly adorn your mudflaps with its majestic image, knock yourself out. But just like there's separation of church and state in our government and society, there should be separation of other symbols of intolerance and bigotry in public squares. The institutions that are paid for by the people should not display anything that promotes inequality or intolerance. Individuals should have the freedom to say what they want, but government must take a stand that does not discriminate.
To those who suggest the flag means something other than intolerance, I would say, that's your opinion, and you're entitled to your opinion, but the fact is, the majority of the people around the world and the facts regarding the nature of the civil war, and the realization that it's a symbol of a morally-inferior side of a lost conflict, dictate your opinion isn't as valid. Sorry. Yes, the Swastika also had some hopeful and positive traditional meaning, but in today's context, we know what it represents and the same goes with the rebel flag. Whatever "noble heritage" you claim it epitomizes shouldn't be so fragile that it can't exist without that controversial array of colors. So if you really aren't a racist, there is no logical, rational reason to wave something that 95% of the world feels represents racism. To argue otherwise exposes your true agenda. None of you people were around for the civil war anyway. Don't tell us it means that much to you. We're not buying it.
Do I think removing the flag changes anything? Not really. It won't make racism disappear, but it will make it less socially-acceptable. It's a step in a positive direction, causing those who have ever-increasing intolerant attitudes to find more-dimly-lit corridors to peddle their hate, and the less popular that is, the better off we all are.