i am now reading that the aftermath of the atrocious Charleston murders has included various demands for removing the Confederate Battle Flag, statues of confederate veterans and even abolishing Colonel Rebel school mascots. While browsing through the paper I discovered that these actions are necessary because to do otherwise, leaving those bits of history in place, would cause offense.
I believe that those who are offended are looking for reasons to be offended and outraged. This country long ago abolished any semblance of institutional racism. In the past ten years or so we have even expanded political correctness to the point that when the president of the United States mentions the “n word” it causes immediate headlines and a national debate. Should I also mention that an African-American man was elected president for eight years? Women are discriminated against far more than blacks are and it is in a far more subtle way, but I know that time will bring enlightenment to attitudes, not legislation or activism. When the law gives you the opportunity to prove that you can handle the job as well as a man, you must then prove that the law is right by doing that job better than a man.
When people waste time demanding that society change beliefs and attitudes it will only result in more bias, more bigotry, more hate and more resentment. No one likes to be told what to do, what to think, what to say,etc… I have never even heard of anyone who responded with, “Thank you for making me change. I really appreciate the enormous frog forced down my throat.” If tearing down flags and monuments is right and proper, then society will reach that consensus and those items will be removed. In the meantime, it offends me that a minority is demanding that part of my history be abolished. It offends me that statues of my ancestors be torn down. It offends me that all southerners be condemned for what a minority did over one hundred years ago. Remember, most could not afford to hold slaves and were fighting for their families and homes.
I have heard the argument that the south could not have been fighting for states rights since membership in the confederacy required that slavery be allowed. However, these supporters of the theory that all southerners of the time cared only about slavery overlooks the situation that had developed between north and south. All of those farmers who grew cotton were being scalped by financial institutions in the north, just to oversimplify in the interest of time and space. When southerners refer to the fight for a way of life most never think about slavery. They think about the relationships between kin and friends, the closely knitted communities, the traditions, the commitment to faith and church, the devotion to hospitality and a slower pace. I doubt that most sharecroppers and towns cared enough to lay down life and limb for what was then regarded as someone else’s property. Would you be willing to die just to protect Donald Trump’s Hotel?
True, I have never known a southerner that would not go back and abolish slavery if given the chance. I have lived in the south all of my fifty plus years. No southerner today is proud of those who held slaves in the past. I am sure that no African-American is proud of those Africans in their history who captured and sold them into slavery. I have heard of no Brit or Dutch who claims to be proud of the ancestors who provided the notorious slave ships which brought them here. All of this happened so long ago, and I would consider it rediculous to hold any of those countries responsible today for what the citizens did then. Are you beginning to see a dichotomy?
We could always pursue this whole line of thought to its logical end. My ancestors experienced discrimination in England. Should I then demand all references to the British heroes and influences be removed from our histories? Do I demand that all British be shamed and penalized for what some of their long dead citizens did? Do they even owe me for the hardship and persecution? Even more importantly, do I cling to those injustices so that my obsession prevents me from doing anything positive today? If all of my time and energy is devoted to the campaign for justice, then how much am I investing in my job, my family or my community?
America has tried to make amends like no other country before. We have tried harder to accommodate this minority and as a result the minority seems to just make more demands. If the battle flag is removed it will not stop any further murders. If confederate memorials are destroyed it will not end negative racial attitudes and it will not protect African-Americans. But, if you want to stir up the radical activist right fringe….mission accomplished!