Rebel flag drama

Okay. I keep hearing about this stuff though I’ve been actively living under a rock and not looked into the news story that has everyone freaking out. Heard the gist of it. Sounds like a situation that has occurred in various forms over the years, carried out by a member of yet another supremacy movement. That much I’m clear on.

Now, people keep coming up to me in public and bringing this topic up, perhaps because they realize I’m a Southerner. Though plenty seem to want to hear me denounce the confederate flag and are of the opinion that its relevancy is restricted solely to extremists and those belonging to hate movements. I staunchly disagree and have stated my case on the matter many times dating back several years since this topic isn’t really new. It’s understood that a lot of Midwesterners accept the victors’ story about the Civil War and refuse to delve any deeper into the subject, which quite frankly irks me, particularly if they’re going to keep coming at me looking to argue the matter. These arguments do nothing for me, so I tend nowadays to just walk away. Nothing really there to discuss, IMO. I feel as I do and don’t need others to validate that stance.

The flag is merely a symbol, and symbols mean different things to different people. A good number of us out here view the rebel flag as a symbol of rebellion and Southern pride and old agrarianism (most of which wasn’t dependent on slave labor since most people could not afford slaves — helps to look into the economic realities for the majority of people alive in past centuries in this country before blowing a gasket and making everything about race relations). If ever I decided to get another tattoo it’d likely include the rebel flag, because that’s a symbol of my Southern heritage, as someone whose maternal side of the family has lived in Mississippi for at least 150 years. I’m not here to debate this matter with others. Their opinions are their own and not of my concern.

Actually did get into a good discussion last night with a couple guys who supported people’s right to appreciate that flag and who were familiar with a lot of the history surrounding all of that back then. Always refreshing to stumble across such individuals who are willing to be open-minded despite lacking Southern roots. But even there I don’t have a whole lot to say on the issue. It’s a symbol, which makes it a highly personal matter so far as one’s preferences go. Shouldn’t be some huge, recurring national discussion, or at least if it must be I’d prefer to stand on the sidelines.

What people don’t have the right to do is ban others from sporting such a symbol. You don’t have to like it, certainly, but we still do not have the right to censor and restrict others over such matters. And I don’t care if the symbol in question was a swastika. Makes no difference. People have a right to free expression and there’s no good reason for this new witch-hunt to go off the rails and to lead to demonizing people just because they happen to see things a bit differently than you might.

It helps to ask a person what a symbol means to them instead of aggressively coming at them and projecting onto them your own assumptions. Ask and listen instead of going on the attack. The latter only creates more unnecessary drama and causes people to feel unfairly alienated.

This situation has gotten dumb enough to where some folks are raising their eyebrows over Southern music even, particularly some of the tunes of Charlie Daniels. Get a grip, people. The history of the South is far more complex than the fact that slavery existed there. Those who refuse to accept that truth I have no time and patience for. Slavery existed damn-near everywhere dating back millennia. And that also includes the Northern states of the early U.S., much as folks like to pretend they forgot that. Our entire nation has a legacy built on slavery, as do most nations. Welcome to human history.

And the Civil War was about more than just slavery. People don’t want to hear that for some reason, probably because that complicates their narrative, and so they dismiss such talk as mere apologetics. No it is not. It was a war fought over shifting economic and political paradigms of that time. The industrialization process embraced by the North called for a large and cheap labor pool. Freeing slaves helped in providing that. But if you think exploitation ceased at that point you’re woefully naive.

As I keep repeating: slavery never ended, it just changed shape. Sit with that for a while and conduct some research and take the time to really ponder how free you imagine yourself to be in this day and age. Or don’t. No skin off my back either way (and no pun intended there either).

Life is complicated. If you’re handed an easy answer you can bet that a whole lot’s been left out of the equation, 9 times out of 10 (if not more so). There are various angles to any conflict, most especially those which lead to war. People didn’t just serve and face death so as to keep slavery going, particularly when you consider how many of those who died were too poor to own slaves. And those fighting on the Union side weren’t doing so purely for humanitarian reasons, no. Economic and political was the name of that game, at the top at least, and then the common people are sold on propaganda so as to be willing to do the bidding of those in power. As normally occurs in warfare, anywhere and at any time in history.

So, people can continue on blathering about a topic that most probably don’t even truly care that much about. Folks just feel the need to align themselves one way or the other when the media drumbeat gets going. And this is why I don’t usually watch the news or hardly anything else on television. Dumbs people down by oversimplifying complex matters and then browbeating us into picking a side. That’s a futile endeavor, so I will leave you people to it.


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