Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Not So Much Fun With Flags: Welcome to the New South

My apologies that this episode is coming late. I did shoot one last week in honor of Black History Month, but I was informed by my roommate that my spot on portrayal of George Washington Carver could be considered wildly racist. My heart goes out to the members of the African-American community, who like me, have been kept down by the man.
The "Big Bang Theory" character, Dr. Sheldon Cooper speaking on his fictional You Tube show, "Fun With Flags."
Yes, that snippet from a popular American television comedy pretty much sums up the thinking of a lot of white folks in South Carolina and other places in the old confederacy at the moment. Indeed, some, when confronted with reality, will just start babbling any crazed shit that comes to mind. Right now all they can do is try to prove they and the flag they've defended for generations aren't racist and somehow they're connected to the soul of black people. Hey Bro and Sistah, after all, we've lived together for hundreds of years, right? Can't we all just get along?    
Yeah, well, the problem is while you can be as delusional as you want, the confederate banner will always remain a constant reminder of human bondage and soul crushing segregation to every black American. It is representative of a system which amounted to nothing more than a Western Hemisphere version of apartheid.  
South Carolina used to fly the battle flag of the confederate army on top of the dome of its capitol building. The battle flag, as the ever awkward, Dr. Cooper might tell you, is different from the Confederate States of America national flag, of which there were several versions. The battle flag was square rather than rectangular and never flew in front of, or on top of government buildings even during the American civil war. Its sole purpose was to be at the head of military units in the field.
A little over fifteen years ago it was removed from the top of the South Carolina state house and placed next to a memorial to confederate soldiers on the capitol grounds. Just to make sure there wouldn't be any more compromises with contentious African Americans, or common sense, the Anglo dominated legislature passed an act saying it couldn't be taken down by anyone, including the governor, unless they approved by a two thirds majority.
In most places this is known as minority rule.
Like in other southern locales, the white establishment in South Carolina has maintained the battle flag represented, not slavery, or even segregation, but rather the courage, determination, and honor of a civilization which stood fast against a foe, vastly superior in numbers and resources. No one else in America got that nuance, or if they did, believed it for a second. Especially when you can turn on a TV, or computer and watch savage packs of skin head neo Nazis, and  KKK members suck any sort of supposed honor, completely out of it. 
For ages it has been a painful and uncomfortable part of the d├ęcor, justified by an ever shrinking group of people who are defending what amounts to an act of treason--one which was, at great expense, defeated through strength of arms.
Despite everything, it has seemed no amount of debate, or logic could get the flag down, or even curb the sale of secessionist merchandise. You know--those delightful double shot glasses emblazoned with it, usually found at sophisticated outlets like Wal-Mart, Love's Country Stores, and just about any other place located near a trailer park, or truck stop.
Then along came Dylann Roof. Last week the murderous little cretin strolled into Emanuel AME church in Charleston and after an hour's pause opened fire. Before he left nine African Americans attending a prayer service were dead.
Within days photos of this gruesome twist surfaced on the internet, many of them showing him holding small versions of the confederate flag. It didn't take long for the tipping point to be reached.    
As these words are being typed, retailers are scrambling to get confederate themed products off their shelves. A version of the flag was taken down at the Alabama state capitol earlier today. Governor Robert J. Bentley basically said, his state has more important things to worry about than some 150 year old memory of an ass kicking.
South Carolina governor, Nikki Haley is leading a proposal to have the flag removed from the state house grounds in Columbia and she seems to have momentum. Tragically, any legislative action is still weeks off. Today, as one of the victims, senator and pastor, Clementa Pickney's body lays in state at the capitol and while the American and South Carolina flags are at half mast, the battle colors of the confederacy still wave atop a pole just yards away.
Why? By an act of the legislature it has been padlocked in place and therefore is ever present and unyielding, just like the mindset of its dwindling number of supporters.
Ahh yes, welcome to, The New South. Unfortunately, the old one is always simmering right beneath the surface and sometimes, it erupts--reminding us all of just how crude and violent it was and can still be.
sic vita est

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