A long title for a complicated topic. I touched up on this on the last episode of MoM, this was before Amazon, Walmart, and other companies decided to no longer sell anything with the rebel flag upon it. Even though sales were up by 5000% on these items days before hand. Funny how we are in this country, when something is in danger of being pulled from the shelves we stock up on it. Look at how much gun sales increased after what happened in Newtown CT two and a half years ago. Alabama, the heart of Dixie, has removed the flag from its capitol. I get it, media pressure and marketing strategists says it’s the right thing to do. But lost in all this is what’s really going on. We’ve shifted the sites from a terrible act by a crazed individual and the victims who opened the door to him who lost their lives to targeting a piece of cloth that is part of our heritage (however much we want to distance ourselves from it). I really don’t care if the flag stays up or down, it’s just a symbol. Just as the accepted American flag with it’s 13 bars and 50 stars is a symbol. We want to white wash away the sins of the Confederacy, while ignoring the sins of the Union. How easily we forget History is always written by the victor.
I asked a question on that episode that despite the 40 some odd e-mails of hatred I’ve gotten no one has addressed. If the Civil War was about slavery and equal rights to African Americans and other minorities, why then did we need the Civil Rights movement of the 60’s? Yes at the end of the war slavery was abolished, but it would have been no matter what side had won. Money, just as today, ruled the world. England, France, pretty much all of the economic powers of Europe abolished it first. They were no longer going to have business dealing with the US if we kept the practice going. What didn’t change was how black people (and let’s not forget women in this discussion who had to wait another 50 years to get their right to vote, 4 amendments later) were treated. They were still second class citizens in the eyes of both the North and South, though at least the men were given voting rights. There was a difference between the two areas, a difference the epitomized by the leaders of the movement in those areas.
The South had Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to lead the way. A man who wanted equality between all the races. His iconic “I Have A Dream” speech is timeless and message still rings clear. The line that I always go back to and quote- “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” To see beyond skin tone, ancestors, history, and judge people for who they are here and now by their actions was his goal.
The North had Malcolm X. A man who preached the superiority of the black race, called for segregation, wanted all African Americans to be returned to their homeland and until that was done a separate country made for them here in the USA. He was controversial, angry, and simply fed up by the actions of “White” America. He wanted atonement for the past, not a just a moving on from it.
We are all shaped by our environment. You can move away from a place, but it will always be a part of you no matter how many miles you go. In the South racism has always been in the open. It was worn on the sleeves of those who practiced it, and shown openly by businesses. It was there in your face to be dealt with. You were told you could not sit here, or use this water fountain, or any other stupid act this nation was guilty of bluntly because of the color of your skin. It was something all could see and in turn be faced head on, and because of that there was less frustration and anger in actions against it. The North though was far more insidious with their racism. It was done under the table so to speak. You weren’t given a reason why we weren’t being served. If you were black in the north from the end of the Civil War until the 70’s, you were treated well to your face, while behind your back much was being done against you…. It’s like when you have a passive aggressive person in your life. They will infuriate you many times more than someone who is just openly aggressive towards you. This is what shaped Malcolm X.
See again how history is written by the victor? The North would always point to the how they won the Civil War meaning they were “good” and cared about African Americans. Yet their actions showed otherwise. Slavery was dropped as I said earlier from the goals of the Confederacy early on due to economic reasons. Same reason the North was always going to abolish it. The war was about States Rights and less dependency on the Federal Government versus A strong Federal Government with weakened State’s Rights. It’s why today even though there are states whose residents have stated and gotten marijuana legalized, they still could be arrested by the Federal Government because they still consider weed illegal. It’s been perverted into a simplistic meaning that’s easy to digest and fed to the masses. It’s summing a complicated issue down to one word and using it to divide.
I don’t care what flag is flown, but if we’re going to take down one because of the actions associated with it, we can’t overlook the history of the American Flag. It too was a rebel flag. Our ancestors made it in defiance of Great Brittan stating we would no longer be under their tyranny. Slavery started in this country and continued under it until 1865. Where people keep comparing the Confederate flag to that of the Nazi party, that is truly the pot calling the grass green. Those same ancestors under the American flag have committed acts of genocide that would make Hitler jealous. How many tribes of Native Americans remain? The ones that do are relegated to reserves in places our forefathers and the powers in charge at the time deemed unfit for living. Manhattan was purchased for the just under $1000 US today’s economy. That is less than my monthly mortgage payment. You can’t call out the crimes of another without looking at your own…
So how do we really fix what’s going on? There’s no quick answer. We need to have a long discussion as a nation addressing all the issues. This means we have to get racial. A word that gets far too often confused with racist. Being racial is talking about our differences. It’s joking about these differences. It’s discussing it without ill intent, yet bringing them to light. Once those are acknowledged people can move on to what really matters. Racism is the exact opposite of being racial. It’s hating someone for their differences, and in the worst case scenarios like what happened in South Carolina it’s shown through action not words. There’s no moving on with discussion, it’s being locked and refusing to budge. It’s a conversation ender. Much like when you have political discussion with someone and they’re so republican or democrat they’re blinded to hearing the other side. Being racial gets conversations started, it acknowledges the differences and through that we can find our common ground. It’s why racial comedians can bring people together (comedians like Patrice O’Neal, Colin Quinn, Sherrod Small, Kurt Metzger, list goes on). It’s going to be ugly, some people will be offended and have their feelings hurt, but silence and skirting the issues only leads to violence. Which I think history has proven time and time again is not the solution by any means. Simply removing a flag and not discussing the situation cures nothing….