Monday, June 22, 2015

Charleston Shooting Reignites Debate About Confederate Flag

From the New York Times:

The conflict over the banner of the Confederacy has been raging for decades between those who feel it is a symbol of free speech, and others who see it as a symbol of white supremacy. But with a photo emerging of Dylann Roof, the 21-year-old suspect in the Charleston church shootings, posing in front of a car with Confederate plates, the debate has been reignited on social media and beyond about whether the flag should be displayed, and whether politicians should continue to defend the flag as a symbol of Southern heritage.

More here.

The arguments in support of the Confederate battle flag are all pretty bad.

As far as I've ever been able to tell, they go something like this. No, it's not racist. It's about heritage and Southern pride. And that's about it. I mean, if you want, you can also throw in related arguments that the Civil War wasn't about slavery, but, of course, that's pretty stupid because the Civil War was ENTIRELY about slavery.

Now contrast those "arguments," for what they are, with the arguments against it. The battle flag was flown by a treasonous army defending a traitorous regime which was both economically and philosophically based on the ownership and oppression of human beings, and can mean nothing except what its designers and users originally intended it to mean. The flag was never "rehabilitated," never conceptually purged of its poisonous and vile significance. It means slavery. It means hate. It means inhumanity and barbarity. It means treason. It is anti-American.

In short, here's the clash. Opposers: the flag represents cruelty and hate, which is undeniable historical fact. Supporters: no, it doesn't. Slam dunk. Supporters lose, and they lose big, really big.

In fact, this is pretty much how a lot of arguments on race go in this country. People scream for justice. This is met by a collective white shoulder-shrugging followed by patronizing lectures and head-in-sand burying. Lather, rinse, repeat.

The power of white denial in this country is nothing short of amazing.