Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Other Side: Flagging Approval

Yesterday SC GOP Gov. Nikki Haley, flanked by RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, GOP Sens. Tim Scott and Lindsey Graham and Democratic House stalwart James Clyburn, called for the state's legislature to take down the Confederate flag on the grounds of the State Capitol, something that would require a two-thirds vote to do thanks to legislation passed in 2000.

Our old friend Jazz Shaw disapproves of this immensely.

Some years ago, as I’ve noted in the past, our Red State colleague Erick Erickson penned a column on a completely different subject titled You Will Be Made to Care. Erick was talking about gay marriage, but what he described was the the ever present mode of operation for the modern American Left. It’s not enough to disagree with someone when there is a difference of opinion on social issues, government policy or even the color of the sky. It’s not even sufficient to shut down the conversation, as Guy and Mary Katharine so aptly identified in End of Discussion. Those who dissent must be forced to bend a knee and participate. 
We’re seeing the same thing today in the newly reignited, perpetual debate over the Confederate Battle Flag. Many Southern families still feel a strong association with the stars and bars even though they live in an era when everyone has written off slavery as an evil in our past which was engaged in by the male, landed gentry from both above and below the Mason-Dixon Line. They remember that the civil war was far more than some hotly debated policy discussion over slavery. (Though that was obviously a part of it.) They recall how the North used their enormous industrial advantage to craft policies which created hardship for the more agricultural South and drained them of their wealth. They know the family stories about how the North built up a huge population advantage and curried that into an electoral hammer they could use to write the rules in their own favor. They remember that and much more. 
Other Southern families may not even dwell on those concerns, but they know the pride they feel in the South. They know that their ancestors fought and died for what they, at the time, believed in and stood to defend their loved ones and their homes. And well into the modern era they have felt the sting of the constant derision from the North. Southerners talk slow, so they must be stupid. They are backward. They are ignorant rednecks. What a shame they can’t be as elite and as enlightened as their northern cousins. The fact is, they just don’t fit into proper modern America. Isn’t it a shame? This remains one of the few politically correct topics of “humor” in comedy shows. You can always make fun of the rednecks who speak with a Southern drawl. 
But these same people retain a modern pride in the heritage of their region. I frequently travel to various states in the warmer climes and constantly see signs and bumper stickers which proudly declare that the owner is American by birth, but is Southern by the Grace of God. 
But in keeping with liberal theory, we must eliminate some piece of cloth that reminds them of their heritage, even if it has nothing to do with racism or slavery in their minds. It does to us! That requires a trigger warning, mister, and you didn’t provide us with a safe space!

Now, I figure Jazz is blowing off a lot of steam or something, because frankly, otherwise, this is wholly offensive.  I grew up in North Carolina, I watched the Dukes of Hazzard growing up, with the General Lee and its Confederate battle flag roof paint job, and knew plenty of folks who were wonderful people who despised slavery, as he says, and proudly saw the flag as a symbol of Southern pride, along with NASCAR and ACC and SEC college sports, Bojangles' chicken, Mountain Dew and Cheerwine sodas, and cotillions and Boy Scout camping trips into the woods.

And yes, southerners are damn good people.  I am one of them, black, and American, and from the South.  But I also learned what the flag meant, and where it came from, and why South Carolina, and North Carolina, and Kentucky where I live now did to preserve slavery, resulting in a war that killed hundreds of thousands.  I also learned about June 19th, the day Lincoln freed the slaves, Juneteenth. The 150th anniversary of that date came the same week Dylann Roof allegedly killed nine people for the crime of being black.

The flag was raised in 1961 as a direct response to the civil rights era, as a giant "screw you" to black America and those who were fighting to stop Jim Crow and to win equality for people who looked like me.  That flag is a part of the history of the US, and that's why it belongs in a museum, not the grounds of the state capitol building.

Wal-Mart and Sears are going to pull Confederate flag merchandise from their stores, and even Mississippi, whose state flag actually still has the Confederate emblem in the upper left corner, is now openly discussing changing that as well.

You're on the wrong side of an ugly history, Jazz.  Time to let it go.


Jim 'Prup' Benton said...

Sadly, Michael Sam is showing some -- hopefully the less serious ones -- of the problems and pressures that Glenn Burke had to face. Burke -- who was outed, but became the first openly gay player in an American team sport -- was simply yet another one of a string of fast, good-fielding, weak-hitting fourth outfielders that the Dodgers always specialized in, going back to the Brooklyn days. (Am I the only person who remembers Don Thompson, Roger Cedeno, and a dozen others, all who came up that way?)
Burke was no Jackie Robiinson in talent. Whatever part homophobia played in his failures, it seems unlikely that he would have even become even a regular. And Sam, despite his great record in college, is showing the same thing that Tebow, that most Heisman Trophy winners, that many college greats have shown -- that the two games are different. The styles of play are different, and success in one does not automatically yield success in the other.
It would be easy to blame homophobia for Burke's failure, or Billy Bean's, or Sam's. The first two did have it as a factor, but today, I think a team that could have found a spot for Sam would have -- in most areas -- gone out of its way to hire him.
It's not that gay athletes are not as good as straight ones. We all know players who we think are probably gay, including some hall-of-Famers and near ones. But the greater the player, the more he stands to lose if he thinks coming out will hurt him. A great player might have $50 million dollars earnings on the field, plus who knows how much as a manager, coach, or broadcaster. A Bean or Burke might lose, at most $10 million, maybe a tenth of that. (Thus fans are still waiting for "The Great Citrus" to come out -- even people in the MLB front office were joking about it when I worked there, as a temp, twenty years ago.)
Today, I think their fears are less justified, but it is going to take the cooperation of an owner who begs his players to come out, who challenges them to, before we have a true "Gay Jackie Robinson" in any sport. (Could Robinson have made it without Branch Rickey? For that matter, on a lesser but then-important issue, would baseball players STILL all be clean-shaven without Charlie Finley?)

Kentucky Liberal said...

Kentucky never seceded from the Union, but it did become the only state to join the Confederacy AFTER the war. That stemmed from the belief among slave-owning Kentuckians that staying in the Union meant they would be able to keep their slaves after the war. Stupid and naive, of course, but that was their excuse for getting all pissed over the 13th Amendment. That's why you see the confederate flag everywhere here and why it's so easy to identify the racists: they're the ones insisting to their last breath that Kentucky joined the Confederacy.

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