Craig asked me what I thought about the current brouhaha over the Confederate Battle Flag flying over Charleston, and whether it should be taken down.
I am, thanks be to God, a Virginian by birth. And I am the child of parents from the Deep South. In spite of being mostly raised out west, I am, and always will be, a Southerner.
I have, in the past, had memorabilia with the iconic Confederate flag. As one of Craig’s commenters noted on Craig’s post on the issue, it used to be, to most of us, the flag simply represented that something was Southern. But like so much else in our culture today, it has become politicized. And I am not the most empathetic person in the world, but I can see where many Americans see the flag as still symbolizing slavery and oppression. So, I’m not displeased that Governor Haley of South Carolina has asked the state legislature to debate whether that particular flag should be taken down.
Like Craig, my flag is the flag of the United States of America. I feel pride every time I see it, and I see it often.
But we’ve entered a period of fundamental unseriousness in our country. The current furor over the Confederate flag is in fact, a reaction to the shooting of black Christians by a deeply disturbed young man, which had no reference whatsoever to the Confederate flag. Nothing at all. And yet, a sudden moral panic thrust a decidedly tertiary issue to the forefront of the national consciousness.
We see now people rushing to hide any evidence that the Confederate flag ever existed. National Parks removing the flag from Fort Sumter; TV Land pulling the Dukes of Hazzard from their lineup because the General Lee had the flag emblazoned on its roof; Amazon pulling products from their site.
Those knee jerk reactions to a tiny number of screeching voices are one thing. But the smug superiority of so many who pronounce that their instantaneous adoption of the position that the battle flag must be banished irks me. Those who take a position that is, at its heart, not terribly important at all, and then claim that it gives them some superiority over any and all that do not immediately proclaim their like-mindedness is simply a tactic to shout down any rational discussion. It is an assault on our usual national tradition of reasoned debate on the issues of the day.
And while I hold no great fondness for the Confederate flag, I deeply despise being told by moral scolds that I may not fly it under peril of being deemed a racist, especially by people who have no idea what prejudices and biases I may or may not have in my heart.