I can’t help myself. I try to keep my mouth shut now that that man (I was going to say baboon but I controlled myself. Or, I guess I didn’t) is actually the (cringe) president. I have friends that not only voted for him but actively like him. People that I know that voted for him and refuse to admit that he is everything he said he would be and so much more and none of it is good, can’t disavow him because they either can’t bear to face the fact that they helped put him in that office with all of his little fascist friends. They also refuse to even listen to anything that doesn’t sing his praises because the news sources and commentators they listen to have so corrupted their view of ‘mainstream media’ (That phrase makes me want to vomit.) that the supporters of Trump are only physically able to listen to people on Fox and Friends and people like Michael Savage. (He would be the despot that wrote the book “Liberalism is a mental disorder.” I have issues with that on a NUMBER of levels, but I will leave that alone for the moment. )No one that I know and love wanted to elect a man that was going to tear the country apart from the inside out. They all really, really thought he was going to do the right thing. They drank the kool-aid. They listened to the alarmists and the conspiracy theorists. Now they flat out don’t want to know what this man is REALLY doing. I don’t want to know what he is doing either, frankly, but I can’t seem to look away. It’s like watching youtube videos of people draining cysts and abscesses. It is horrible and disgusting and you are cringing as you watch, but still, you watch because it is also fascinating. Or maybe it’s just me. If it’s just me just forget that last point I made. Pretend I didn’t say that. Anyhow, moving along.
So here I am. A NY girl in Florida. There is a GIGANTIC Confederate flag flying beside the highway nearby. There are confederate flags all over the place, on cars, at houses, in yards. I tell Brian that those flags don’t represent slavery or state’s rights in my mind. It represents ignorance, people that think they are cool and rebels and rednecks. I actually saw a truck with a decal that said Redneck Nation with the Confederate flag. So, you know, that’s the view I personally have of it. I hate that anyone has to look on a symbol that represents an ugly past of slavery and violence. I hate that white supremacists use that flag to symbolize and to represent and to glorify their twisted cause. To them, that flag represents their hatred and intolerance of anyone that isn’t part of their so called master race. I wonder how many of the truly know what Hitler’s ideal master race was. I wonder how many of them would really have passed Hitlers tests, met his requirements. I am a pale, red-haired, green-eyed , Catholic white girl and I wouldn’t have made it past his examinations. I can promise you 99% of those that Heil Hitler wouldn’t have either. They use that flag to represent hatred and injustice. However, they are so damned ignorant they don’t even realize that Hitler would have hated and persecuted them too. That’s the thing with hatred and intolerance. It doesn’t stop at the “others”, the ones unlike you. Eventually, you become one of the others too. In America, it’s been the Blacks, the Irish, the Italians, the Chinese, the Native Americans etc. No group was safe from hatred. People, think they are part of a master race? This is America, the great melting pot. I can promise you we all have some part of one of those groups and others somewhere in our DNA.
People have every right to fly that flag on their personal property. Or put it on their car or wear it on their chests if they so choose. Just as much right as I have to fly my Irish Flag or my Marine Corps flag or my neighbor who has the coolest flag holder ever and can put on two flags at one time and has the Puerto Rican flag and the American flag both flying together. It’s their right and I may not agree with their choice of decoration but that’s not my decision to make. THAT is what makes America great. That people have the right to demonstrate and decorate as they choose if it is peaceful. As long as they hurt no one they can do as they choose in their yards, their homes, their cars, on their bodies.
There are people, Brian included, that feel that the Confederate flag and the statues and monuments of Confederate soldiers and leaders are an important piece of history and it IS. It’s just not a history we should necessarily celebrate or glorify. We should look at that history with reverence and be aware of what was lost during that war and what was gained. The losses were necessary, but that makes them no less tragic. I think it has taken at least a hundred years for the gains to justify the loss of life and property. Not because I think that slavery shouldn’t have been abolished. Not that I don’t think that it wasn’t worth everything we gave because it was worth it. I say this because up until fairly recently slavery was illegal but segregation wasn’t. It was actively enforced. We are only now in 2017 beginning to come together, truly together as a country and say we won’t tolerate intolerance. How ironic. The major legislative changes may have occurred during the civil rights era, but how many whites did you see marching with the blacks then? How many white protesters? Few if any and the ones that morally opposed segregation stayed quietly to themselves. Racism has always and will always exist, but I think now we are seeing that even people that it doesn’t affect directly are still taking a stand against it. I’m not Jewish. I’m not black. I’m not gay but the bigotry that happens every single day and was highlighted this past weekend still sickens me and I will speak out against it and I won’t tolerate it in my hearing. Not because it affects me or my day to day life but because it is directed towards people I love and people I know and you know what? Because it affects people in general. I may not like everyone I meet, but I strive to love them as a brother or a sister. We don’t always like our siblings or children for that matter, but we always love them. That’s what I try to remind myself of and when I see injustices being perpetrated against others it’s as though it was my brother or sister it is perpetrated against and it pisses me off. One of my best friends in college is Jewish. I only ever regarded that fact with fascination because I knew so little about her culture and religion. My roommate was black. That was a lesson as well having come from East Syracuse where I can safely say 99% of my graduating class was white. White and Christian actually. I think there was maybe 2 Jewish individuals in my class. There was not an African American in my class at all. So it was enlightening and interesting and frankly, really cool. I can’t understand, I will never understand how someone can hate ANYONE for any reason, let alone because that person is different than himself. Isn’t that the point? None of us are the same. If God made us all so different and scattered us across the globe in different countries and climates and regions why on earth would anyone suppose there was a master race (and p.s. assholes, Christ was Jewish. Oh, and the Jews didn’t ‘kill Christ.’ the Romans did.)? They claim to be so patriotic and so Christian and yet every. single. thing. they say, do or stand for is the exact opposite of every single thing that Christianity stands for or our country stands for. “All men are created equal.” How can a neo nazi or a white supremacist wave an American flag and rant about ‘taking the country back.’ when that line is the very ideal the country was founded on? We fought and won a revolution that we logistically had no business winning when you look back at it (a trained army vs a bunch of untrained pissed off patriots with farm tools as weapons.) because our founding fathers and our ancestors refused to be governed and oppressed by England. And yet these ignorant, tiki torch waving fools think THEY are a master race and THEY are taking our country back? Back from whom? They are the epitome of everything this country has ever stood against. They are the epitome of everything Christianity isn’t. John:13:34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” How can these people call themselves Christian’s when Christ’s central teaching was to love one another? They are too foolish to even stop and think about that.
I don’t know how I feel about the removal of statues and monuments. I don’t think that any pro slavery symbol should stand in a public place I suppose, but I also don’t think that art should ever be destroyed. Even if it is offensive art. Unless it is Yoko Ono’s offensive art. That should be burned. For example, Mein Comp shouldn’t be banned or burned, and it’s not. I imagine some would use that as an instruction manual as to how to be a reprehensible human being, but others use it as a warning. Hell, Mark David Chapman used my favorite book “The Catcher in the Rye” as his justification for killing my favorite artist – John Lennon. Perhaps there should be a museum with the whole history of the Civil war, the biography and letters and beliefs of everyone involved, to display these monuments that were removed. Not to glorify or celebrate slavery or the lives lost in that war, but to recognize and acknowledge that history, to honor those that died and learn about the belief systems of both sides. Those who find the monuments unbearable don’t have to look at them. Those that see a benefit in having them, whatever that benefit may be, are able to see them. The more I think about it the better I like that idea because I really, truly hate the destruction of art. I hate the glorification of slavery more though.
If you go to the Holocaust museum here in Tampa there is a train car in the center of it. It is one of the cars that the Jewish people were crammed into and transported in. People suffocated in there. People were trampled. The car, a big box made of wood and metal was innocuous by itself, but when you know the evil purpose it was used for it took on an entirely new light. It’s not displayed in the middle of a public park with a little plaque depicting the autobiographical details of various Nazis. But it also wasn’t destroyed out of anger or good intentions. I am absolutely certain that the temptation to destroy it was there. It would have been justified and understandable. Yet it wasn’t and It’s a piece of history. It’s now a teaching tool, a monument to the heroes that saved Jews from that car as well as a memorial for the Jews that both survived and perished either in that car or one like it or shortly after in the concentration camp the car transported them to. It is part of a horrible, bloody, awful history, but a piece of history we can’t be allowed to forget. Hearing about such things or reading about them doesn’t hold a candle to seeing something like that up close and in person. Seeing that car was like getting punched in the gut. I had no idea that an object could affect me like that. No one in my family’s past was Jewish or in a camp or a ghetto. That didn’t make me any less sick when I saw it. They were humans. Mothers, fathers, children. I imagine that seeing Robert E. Lee on his faithful horse Traveller may have the same effect on some people.
I was going to write this about symbols, about the flags and how their meaning has changed over time and whatever some people say the confederate flag once stood for such as States Rights, it doesn’t stand for that anymore. According to the Holocaust Encyclopedia, the swastika ” was used at least 5,000 years before Adolf Hitler designed the Nazi flag. The word swastika comes from the Sanskrit svastika, which means “good fortune” or “well-being.” The motif (a hooked cross) appears to have first been used in Neolithic Eurasia, perhaps representing the movement of the sun through the sky. To this day it is a sacred symbol in Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Odinism. It is a common sight on temples or houses in India or Indonesia. Swastikas also have an ancient history in Europe, appearing on artifacts from pre-Christian European cultures. ”
I didn’t know that. Did you know that? Even if you did, do you ever look at that symbol and think of anything other than hate, death, and intolerance? The Nazis took that symbol and destroyed anything positive it ever represented and replaced what it previously represented with hate and death and violence.
The people that feel the Confederate flag is a symbol of States Rights…they can believe what they will. Perhaps once it did so. I can’t tell anyone what a symbol SHOULD represent to him or her. However, hate groups have taken that flag and if it didn’t represent oppression, hate and racism before, it sure as hell does now.
So, yes, you have the right to fly that flag. Or wear it, Or whatever you want to do to display it. You can fly the Nazi flag all you want to. But not in a public park, on a college campus, on federal property. Your right to do that ends where the next person’s rights begin.