One thing I find fascinating is how one story occurs, and how people quickly use it to push an agenda that is completely unrelated. The Charleston Church shooting happens and people against guns use this story for gun control. Others have used it to rally against the Confederate Flag. Even though I am addressing the Confederate Flag debate because it is in the news, I want it to be known the Church Shooting and the Confederate Flag are related tenuously at best. The removal of the Confederate Flag will not address the deep divide of racism in our Country that I discussed in the previous article Long Division. But the Confederate Flag debate is one worth having, upon which I have an opinion.
First this is our problem because our ancestors didn’t address it. In the 1860’s, the Confederate Flag absolutely symbolized an act of disunion and aggression against the United States of America. It was the Confederates that fired the first shots of the American Civil War in Fort Sumter, South Carolina. If the United States were wise, the Confederate Flag would have be removed from American culture beginning on April 10th 1865 when it clearly was a symbol that stood firmly against the United States of America. This should be a lesson to us all. Do not pass the buck when facing issues because then they only become more difficult and complicated to deal with later. You remove the tick before it digs deep.
Second, the Confederate Flag was allowed to continue, and as a symbol, it has had over 140 years to be reimagined and redefined, and it has been. Symbols often change meaning over time. The cross was not a symbol of early Christianity. To them, it was a symbol of death and punishment. Over time, the cross was redefined by the church, to be a symbol of hope and salvation. It’s meaning changed. To many in the South, the Confederate Flag has nothing to do with slavery or racism. I don’t think the Dukes of Hazard were making a statement on how blacks should be treated in America when they designed the General Lee. The Confederate Flag came to be and mean something different, which is often called “Southern Pride.”
Also, to address the many who argue that the Confederate Flag should come down because of how it treated blacks long ago, Google Jim Crow laws, segregation, and separate but equal, that were all passed under the Stars and Stripes. Also, Google how American citizens, again I say AMERICAN CITIZENS, are treated, TODAY, by the Star and Stripes in Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Island, U.S. Virgin Islands among others. Did you know there are American Citizens who can’t vote, have little to no say in government, but we do allow them to be soldiers and fight wars, but give them no voice? The Stars and Stripes may have improved its treatment of blacks, but still acts appallingly toward Pacific Islander and Latin citizens of this country. The Stars and Stripes need to look in the mirror before it throws too many stones.
I say all of this to say this is a complex issue. It is not as simple as take down a flag.
And when I face complex situations, I turn my attention to the group to which I belong. I am a Southerner. I love the South. I will not say I will never leave the South because I think God chuckles at those comments and says, “just watch,” but it will take a call from God for it to happen. I am one of you. I know the Civil War was over much more than Slavery. I can talk about economic factors and federal mistreatment of Southerners. I know the Confederate Flag has nothing to do with racism in many of your hearts and minds today. Just as those outside the South need to realize some facts such as Jim Crow and citizens who cannot vote, we need to face facts as well.
The Confederate Flag did support slavery, and to many, it still stands as a symbol of racism and divides in our country. One thing we also hold dear in the South is hospitality. We still practice hospitality. Just last week when my dad came to visit, he had to pull his car over to walk off a cramp because of his earlier workout. The truck behind him just outside of Elijay Georgia drove past, turned around, and offered help. This past Sunday in my Church, I saw folks leaving with bags of cucumbers because someone just picked them from his or her garden. We take meals to the sick. Our prayer chains are more that gossip lines. We actually pray for one another. Our plumbers do as much work for free as they do for pay. We practice hospitality, and it is my hope and prayer that we always will.
The Confederate Flag is seen by many as a sign of hatred and racism. I have known and know many great southern black men and women with as much Southern Pride as anyone. I have never known any of them to fly this symbol of Southern Pride. Why? Because no amount of time and redefinition of the Confederate Flag’s meaning is going to remove the stain of slavery that is upon it. We need to show love and hospitality. We need to remove the Confederate Flag not because of outward pressure, but because we are a people who cares for others. We are a people that do not want to hurt others, and this flag does hurt others.
Take down the Confederate Flag, and my hope is the new symbol of Southern Pride will be the Southern symbol of hospitality, the wonderful pineapple. I know many Southerners reading this already have pineapples throughout your home to show others that you practice hospitality. It won’t be a hard switch. The truth is Southerners are an amazing group that I love being apart of. We are a people who love. We are a people who care. We are a people who still practice the somewhat lost art of hospitality. It is time we practice hospitality to repair and rebuild relationships and take this flag down. Then, let’s put up pineapples. Pineapples to encourage us to continue to love and care for others.