So I gave a little opinionation here about why I think my home state of South Carolina should remove the Confederate flag from its Statehouse grounds and followed it up here with a suggestion on how to frame the narrative in light of the deep-seated honor-shame element of Southern culture. As might be expected the post struck something of a nerve—some kind folks liked it, while for others it, well, got on those struck nerves.
Today, I want to offer something of a follow-up, a potluck potpourri of arguments and clarifications.
1. It is a rather awkward feeling to be in a dark alley with a gang of known thugs fighting and to find yourself siding with the thugs. You better make sure that you really are against what your fighting against. Such is the situation I find myself in as I argue for the removal of the Confederate flag from the SC Statehouse grounds.
But I must interrupt myself for a brief clarification. If you interpreted my being on the same side as a bunch of thugs in the Confederate flag controversy as a symptom of me being racist, then I want to point out two things. First, shame on you for thinking only black people can be thugs. The reason that racism radar of yours is beeping so loudly is because you are holding near the left side of your own chest. Second, the particular thugs I have in mind here are almost all as pasty white and lumpy as a busted can of biscuits. By this I mean the government-issued soft-despot Leftists that want to control all the definitions and parlay any real or perceived hurt feelings—especially if race is involved—into a further step of the march to tyranny.
So it is odd to be on their side. But it turns out that we’re not the only ones in this alley scuffle. There is another bad guy—let’s call him Racism—who has been disturbing the peace for long enough and some of the good citizens have decided to join up to rid him from the neighborhood. He put up a fight and that’s why we are in the back alley. I may be fighting on the same side as the Pasty Thugs, but I am doing so from different motivations; and I am really fighting with the good citizens.
So this is my defense. Yes, there are some media and political agitators who lack decorum and good sense in equal measure, who are howling for the flag to be removed from Statehouse grounds. I neither like nor appreciate nor welcome them. But, in this instance, they are actually right in what they are howling about. To return to my story: if we’d never elected that bad guy Racism as mayor and then let him retire in our quaint little town, then the thugs never would have had an opportunity to use something righteous toward unrighteous ends.
2. I just said that removing the Confederate flag was the right thing to do. I guess I should make my argument:
- Jesus said that the second greatest commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself.
- Obeying Jesus is always right.
- The Confederate flag is unquestionably tied to racism. It is not only tied to racism, but it has undeniably been used widely, prominently, and significantly for racist causes.
- The essence of racism is neighbor hate, not neighbor love.
- At the heart of love is self-sacrifice—counting the interests of others as more important than your own and preferring the one loved even at great expense to yourself. An example of such neighbor love would be to sacrifice the public honoring of my forefathers with a particular flag in order to remove the public honoring of that flag that also represents past and present hate to my living neighbors.
- We have a higher duty to love and honor our living neighbors than we do to honor our dead ancestors.
- Removing the Confederate flag from a place of official honor is a way to love our African-American neighbors.
- Therefore, removing the flag is a way of obeying Jesus.
- Therefore, removing the flag is the right thing to do.
And if it is the right thing to do, then we should do it. In fact, if it is the right thing to do then we should have already done it.
3. By far the most popular argument that I’ve seen from my fellow citizens is the It’s our heritage! It’s our history! We must honor it! argument. I find this argument rather watered-down whiskey because the historical period they are defending (the antebellum South) is not the most relevant historical period to the issue in question. The 1960s anti-Civil Rights movement and the preceding Jim Crow era is the more relevant historical period for at least two reasons. First, that is the context in which the Confederate flag first flew atop the Statehouse. We went without officially honoring the Confederate flag for 100 years before it was hoisted up in protest of our racist dragon-skin first being ripped off. Second, that is the period where some of our still-alive-today black neighbors suffered racism; the most widespread symbol of such racism was the Confederate flag. The sins of the 1960s, being more recent, they are felt more acutely today than the sins of the 1860s. The Jim Crow era saw officially sanctioned and protected racism, segregation, and violence. Can somebody please explain to me what was honorable about that?
The use of the flag during anti-Civil Rights movement (and afterward) tainted the flag beyond repair. Not even Daisy Duke atop the General Lee can rehabilitate it.
4. I am under no delusion that removing the flag from Statehouse grounds will end racism. Racism is in the hearts of sinners. The only way to stop racism is to start worshipping Jesus. But I do believe symbols matter and that removing this particular symbol is an act of neighbor love.
But I don’t think we should stop at removing the flag in our efforts against racism as if that were the end goal. I think white churches need to stop firing pastors when they reach out to the black kids in the nearby neighborhood. I think our government needs to stop its war on urban men and rewarding fatherlessness. I think black presidents need to quit honoring eugenicists who wanted to weed out inferior races. And I think we should talk about the disproportionate numbers of black babies we dismember each year, under the full protection of the Constitution. And when I say “talk,” I mean talk out loud, using audible English words, in public, even on the cable news shows.
And if you don’t extend neighbor love to those African-Americans that are currently being slaughtered, if you only rally around the Officially-Approved Causes that require only minimal courage, if you are silent about today’s evils, then we shall count you among the Pasty Thugs.