Stars and Bars

I am a Yankee, born and raised, dyed in the wool.  I have no particular loyalty to the South, southern culture, southern practice, or southern pride.  If I had an ancestor involved in the Civil War, I am quite sure he wore blue.  But unlike some these days, I have no desire to crush this culture, especially since much of it hurts no one and intends no harm. The harm here, and the hatefulness, lie with those who are on the attack.

As an outsider, I can see a wide range of beliefs and feelings symbolized by the Confederate battle flag and other varieties of Confederate flag.  Some of those beliefs are hateful: slavery, segregation, racial oppression, the Ku Klux Klan, all of which appropriated the flag for their own evil purposes.  I can also see southern pride, not in any of these but in a singular way of life, neither better nor worse than any other, but one that belongs to the South, is loved there, and that southerners want to  celebrate, as others celebrate their separate cultures, be they Native American, Arabic, Hebrew, African, whatever.  Even W. E. B. DuBois, no friend of white southern culture, admitted that much good died with the old south when it disappeared after the Civil War.  No one has a right to step on this innocent celebration.

Those on the attack today have seized on one ugly, hateful incident as an excuse for their actions, but they have other reasons.  They know that the culture does not promote such behavior.  They attack simply because the south is different.  The cannot abide any values different from their own, no matter how harmless.  They are cultural imperialists.  They need to bring those who are different into line with a monoculture they would create in their own image.  They may use the language of rights and diversity, but these are not their object.  Puritan like, they would create a world that punishes any who differ with them in any respect.  Today, it is southern culture and its symbols.  Tomorrow, some other group will feel their wrath, perhaps the Amish.  Their campaign is no more than an old fashioned power play.

The least attractive figures in this ugly display are the business people who, following the profit motive, have piled on.  No doubt they see siding with the dominant culture as the most lucrative way to proceed.  So Amazon will no longer sell the Confederate flag.  What a noble stand!, It will, however, happily sell you all the Nazi and Stalinist merchandise your perverse heart desires.  What hypocrisy!  What a disgrace!

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