Thursday, November 13, 2003

The Confederate Flag and Racism in the south. 

My conversation with my friend over the Confederate Flag deteriorated, then improved again, although, at least for now, we'll simply have to agree to disagree.

I want to make a point here though, and one that I make in an email to friends that I will include here, is that the GOP is unabashedly supporting racists candidates for major offices, namely, Barbour in Mississippi. The GOP pulled out all the stops for Barbour, including visits from Cheney and Bush. In a column by Derrick Jackson I found in the Boston Globe, he reports the dark underbelly of the GOP elephant in their support of Barbour.

Barbour has ties to the Council of Conservative Citizens, a southern group with blatantly racist segregation beliefs, and prominent displays of the rebel flag on their website.

My friend's beliefs about the flag, are very different from those of racists. In fact, my friend neatly slices the flag from any ties to our history of oppression of the black race in this country. I feel this is somewhat unrealistic. My friend, however, is not a racist. There is a small group of humanitarians, my friend mentions Robbie Robertson, who see the qualities of independence and self-reliance reflected in the flag. I can't argue with their interpretation of that symbol necessarily, except in the case of refusal to recognize that others feel an equal legitimacy in their views of the flag as a representation of evil and harm, or one of white supremacy.

The flag in and of itself, as an inanimate object, is not evil. It is the meaning that we ascribe to symbols that we create, that determine wether the flag, or any symbol, will be used for good or for ill. Unfortunately, too many would prefer to use it for ill, and too many believe that the flag is the representation of evil. Under the circumstances, I feel it would be far better to distance oneself from use of the flag at all, except in very private instances, if one must.