Social Justice Warriors

What A Black Guy Thinks About The Confederate Flag Debate

By J-Dub

If you’ve read my works on this blog before, you know I’ve identified myself as a middle-aged, educated black man.  I’m an infrequent contributor to this blog, because I’m really not interested in current events. If you ever visited my blog, you’ll see my interests lie in the sporting world, and that I will foray into the world of politics and current events usually only when those worlds intersect.  However, I’ve been a loyal reader of TurtleBoy Sports since Day One, and yesterday something even rarer than my posts here happened.

I have a MAJOR disagreement with TurtleBoy.

If you haven’t done so yet, I ask that you go back and read his post from yesterday concerning the Confederate Flag in South Carolina.

There’s a silly argument floating around in the wake of these murders in Charleston comparing South Carolina to Nazi Germany by equating the Confederate flag to the Swastika, along with calls to outlaw the Confederate flag. This is even more pointless than the “gun control” argument, and sadly I watched TurtleBoy fall into that intellectual trap.

In a recent podcast, I made the point that gun control laws are useless for a host of reasons; they really only exist to make the “anti-gun” crowd feel like they accomplished something.  When you stop to consider that in the years since Columbine, we’ve had dozens of these type of mass killings, and in the wake of every one, we get some new layering of gun control laws. When you stop to consider that after each new law, we’ve had yet another massacre, it becomes time to get used to the idea that these laws do not solve anything. They would be the epitome of Americans love of symbolism over substance; of wearing those those little rubber bracelets and posting things on their Facebook pages in lieu of actually doing something substantive…if it weren’t for this flag debate.

There’s so much wrong with this debate, so I will start with the obvious.  What happened in Charleston isn’t about the fact this country is floating on a sea of guns, nor is it about this country’s 400-year disjointed racial history.  It’s about a figure of genuine evil who senselessly slaughtered nine innocent people.

What’s less apparent is that be it guns or flags, the use of that horrific act to advance a narrative at best shamelessly opportunistic.   At worst, it is obfuscating the fact we as Americans live in a society that has declared war on itself and worse yet, that society is churning our a frighteningly high number of people who are monstrous enough to commit such atrocities.

If what you took away from the carnage in that church in Charleston was the banning of a flag, you are officially part of the reason why this country is killing itself. If you can’t see because you are focused on the wrong things that the time in this country is RIGHT FUCKING NOW to take a hard look at ourselves and understand why WE are producing these diseased, twisted souls bent on destruction, then tragedies like Charleston are going to keep happening.

You’ll notice I capitalized WE. There’s a reason for that. Understand and fixing this means all of us.  This is not a “them” problem; it’s an “us” problem.  Beyond the fact that it hides the real problem we are facing, let me tell you why I don’t want to hear this useless Confederate Flag debate again.

1) It’s a complete waste of time

If you don’t live in South Carolina, then this as a matter of law isn’t up to you. If you want to do something about it, then move there, become a registered voter, and get it changed.  Short of that, organize a rally and camp out on the steps of the South Carolina state capitol. If you are not willing to do that, then you should be ashamed of yourself for using the deaths of 9 innocent people to advance a political agenda which does not affect you nor are you willing to substantially act on. Consider that in your Confederate Flag-free world in which innocent people will still be dying.

2) It’s only a flag

Seriously, we can’t forget this is only a four-foot chunk of cloth…that’s it. It is merely a symbol, which means it has no inherent power other than that which people choose to give it.  Countries that ascribe actual status to symbols are the same ones where you can get locked up for not saluting the flag.  South Carolina is what it is; it’s also not North Korea.

3) It’s completely backward thinking

If we could change the behavior of people by taking down a flag, then this might be valid discussion. But until then…

Frankly, as a black man in America today, I’m in favor of labeling racists of all sorts.  The problem here is the Confederate Flag won’t work for this purpose, because not all racists are white southerners.  Racism in America is far more than “heritage of the old South.”  Racism has become a cottage industry used to advance a false narrative which has been well documented on TurtleBoy sports. The Melinda Boones and the Spanky MacFarlanes of the world are every bit as pernicious to the future of this country as is the Ku Klux Klan, and for exactly the same reasons. I would even make the argument that the Boones and MacFarlanes are more dangerous because unlike the Klan, they don’t make grand displays of their racism; you have to wait for them to open their mouths.  We’ve made it impossible for white people to be overtly racist in this country, even Klansmen don’t advertise who they are unless they are in large groups. Can you imagine how many problems we could solve in this country if we held everybody to the same standard?

I don’t want to enact some sort of racial “Scarlet Letter” here, but I’m also not in favor of taking away a great tool for the identification of idiots.  At least I know who I’m dealing with.

4) The “slavery” argument is complete crap, and comparing it to Nazi Germany is ludicrous

The fun part about history is that every day it gets farther away.  That’s a big problem for those who need to keep history alive as part of driving their agenda.  Welcome to the wonderful world of why over 150 years after it’s abolition, slavery is still invoked on a daily basis by those who wish to keep those memories alive.  Again, a major component of race relations in this country as far as black people are concerned is to keep alive the ghosts of the past.

TurtleBoy isn’t the only one who made this reach, albeit I know he didn’t do it for the same reasons. The mention of slavery is the easiest way to make white people uncomfortable, which is precisely why those who have transformed racism into a cottage industry in America keep doing it.  The problem is there is nobody alive today who was either causally responsible for or morally effected by slavery, which is why we’re reaching for another ghost of the past.

Regardless of the accuracy or inaccuracy of our common beliefs on slavery, the only thing it has in common with Nazism is they are both products of European invention. The inhuman nature of slavery does not change the fact that it existed as a function of economics; it was the easiest and cheapest way to solve a labor demand problem.  On the other hand, Nazism was a political ideology which was based on world domination and the extermination of entire races of people.

Having said that, if you look at the logistics of slavery and the Holocaust, there are similarities which are then obviated by a complete difference in purpose.  The Nazis and the slave traders both built elaborate networks to achieve the incredibly complex tasks of rounding up large numbers of people and transporting them across great distances.  Obviously, the purpose was not the same.  Nazi Germany embarked on this undertaking as a means to commit murder on an industrial scale, whereas slavery was the means to supply labor to build an agrarian economy.

Was slavery a moral abomination? Did many people die due to slavery? Of course, no intellectually honest person would ever deny that.   But there’s an immorality in comparing the two, because  presenting the picture that plantations were death camps is false, and it’s being done so as to ascribe a “victim” status to people weren’t even alive yet.  Even if you want to engage me on a debate about the evils of slavery vs. Nazism,  by making the comparison, you still are obfuscating what the events of Charleston are really all about.

Go back to the part where I said this is a WE problem.  If we let people use these murders as a means to advance an agenda, then WE will have already failed.  Labeling this horrible crime as “racist” or terrorist” only makes it easier for us to take the easy way out.   By applying such a label, WE no longer need to do the “required reading” to understand the true cause of the problem.  In other words, its time to stop applying the easy labels about race, flags, guns, or whatever, and start the hard work of  figuring out why this country produces as many monsters as it does.

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