Thursday, June 25, 2015

How the War on Confederate Symbolism Contributes to Racial Tension

I'm thinking of offering a reward to the person who can trace the logical connection from the fact that there have been nine Black people killed in a South Carolina church by a crazed racist to the need for the removal of the Confederate flag from state capitols.

But even a very large reward would yield very little, since there really is no connection at all.

Amid all the news stories showing politicians striking Politically Correct poses for the cameras was one which captured the full significance of the debate over Confederate imagery: Warner Bros. has decided it will no longer sell toys and models of the car featured in the old Dukes of Hazzard television show (which the boys called "General Lee") which sported a Confederate flag on the roof.

We all know how many Black deaths resulted from people watching the Duke boys and going out on shooting sprees. Don't we?

Nobody is going to be hurt by the continued flying of the Confederate flag or statehouses and neither will they be helped. Not a single Black will be better off because Warner Bros. is discontinuing the use of the Confederate symbol--any more than eliminating Confederate imagery anywhere else will.

In fact, it does the exact opposite.

Giving in to demands to eliminate Confederate symbols not only does not help race relations, it hurts them. To continue to capitulate to what amount to political fashion statements devoid of any substance is to continue to feed racial tensions.

The groups that demand removal of the Confederate flag and the elimination of other Confederate symbols are groups that thrive on such tensions, which is why they aggravate them at every possible opportunity. They are a part of what George F. Will once called the "indignation industry." Racial grandstanders like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, and groups such as the NAACP (a group which used to actually help Blacks) would literally go out of business if racial tensions diminished. Consequently they have to constantly be ginning up false crises and pointing to imaginary racism they say all Whites harbor.

The only people the war on Confederate imagery helps are those in whose interest it is for Blacks and Whites to be at each other's throats. For many of these people, racial harmony would be bad for business.

Which is why capitulating to demands to remove Confederate symbols does one thing and one thing only: It enables the very racial animosities which we all say we should get over.

We've eliminated actual racists who, with only a handful of irrelevant exceptions, don't even exist anymore, so what else is there to do than attack regional symbols while pretending that they are a threat? It keeps the cause alive—and the donations coming in.

The Confederate flag long ago ceased to be thought of as a racist symbol, leaving its only symbolism that of regional pride. Their civilization destroyed and its homes and cities burned, Southerners have always harbored a healthy distrust of the centralized political power that was one of the unintended consequences of the Civil War. The Confederate flag is now little more than a statement of rebellion against Washington, DC.

If you want to throw gasoline on the rebellious spirit of the people whose flag symbolizes the spirit of rebellion, go after the Confederate flag. If you've ever been to South Carolina, you'll know what I mean. These are, after all, the very people who started the Civil War in the first place.

Of course, if you set these people off, then they'll get mad. And if they get mad, then they'll start defending themselves. And if they start defending themselves, then that will be pointed to as evidence of continuing racism. And if people believe there is continuing racism, then racial tensions will be aggravated.

But then that was the whole point. Wasn't it?


KyCobb said...

After photos of the murderer Dylann Roof popped up of him proudly displaying the Confederate Battle Flag and burning the Star and Stripes popped up, no person of goodwill can possibly justify the continuing display of that symbol of white supremacy and institutionalized racism.

Anonymous said...

The Unabomber drew inspiration from Al Gore's book Earth In The Balance and a copy was found on his bed stand at his hermit cabin....ban that book.

Rob Mattheu said...

Curious. Do you think a business organization in its right mind would support a show or movie that glorified the Nazi flag?

Martin Cothran said...

So your comparing The Dukes of Hazzard to, say Triumph of the Will? Hmmm.

Rob Mattheu said...

Should I go slower?

The Confederate Flag is on the car. The Confederate Flag represents a glorification of slavery and the thinking that led to it being accepted and glorified. This isn't a new point, this is one that has been discussed for decades, but finally driven home by the ugly acts in SC.

If a company chooses to discontinue licensing for these reasons, it's their right. Disney pulled Song of the South from the marketplace in this country years ago for the same reason. And numerous movies (Christmas favorite Holiday Inn for one) have been edited to remove racially offensive bits from them.