Pride, Not Prejudice?
Hi. Let me begin my saying that this is probably going to be a controversial post. My intent is not to unduly tug at anyone's heartfelt sentiments about their heritage. Rather, I want to (a) exercise my right to free speech; and (b) ask some pertinent questions regarding the Confederate Navy Jack flag. Let's begin.
I have to tell you how disheartened I've become after seeing so many of the following bumper stickers on vehicles since Sue and I moved to Tennessee in mid-2000:
You can purchase the above sticker, as well as a plethora of other Rebel-related merchandise, from the 9stores.com Web site. While I have no idea if it is the official Ku Klux Klan online store, and I would not hyperlink to the site under any circumstances, this sticker is also available at klanstore.com (check it out, if you feel you could keep your last meal down).
The flag depicted on this sticker is called the Confederate Navy Jack, the "Southern Cross," or the "Rebel Flag." You can read all about it at Wikipedia.
Look, if you have been following my blog, then you probably already know that I am not a scholar of American history. My academic knowledge of the American Civil War is constrained to what I picked up in school (elementary, secondary, and post-secondary), what I've read about it since, and what I've gleaned during deep discussions with my friends and mentors. The same is true concerning my limited comprehension of the history of the North and South, slavery, and so forth. What I am about to share with you constitutes one man's opinion.
Question #1: Do we not live in the UNITED States of America?
From what I understand of the underlying reasons behind the American Civil War, the citizens of the Confederate states wanted to cede from the Union. In other words, the South wanted to break off from the rest of what was, technically, the United States of America. (Again, you historians and academicians in my readership, kindly bear with this layperson here...I'm just feelin' my way.)
That was then, and this is now. I want to talk about 2005. So you are a son or a daughter of the Confederacy. Good for you. Why do you want to glorify or take pride in divisiveness? My nephew Kevin is a U.S. Army infantryman serving his country in Iraq along with many, many other American citizens. Do you think that the lion's share of these young men and women give a hoot whether their U.S. home address exists above or below the Mason-Dixon line? As my unflappable mom says, "Get a life!" All I can say is that I hope, for all our sakes, that the individuals who wear those ridiculous "The South Will Rise Again!" T-shirts do so for kitsch value and do not take that expression seriously.
Question #2: What do black people think of the Confederate Navy Jack flag?
I have performed quite a bit of online research on this topic prior to writing this blog post. Frankly, I was unable to find one pro- or neutral-Dixie flag opinion by any person identifying himself or herself as African-American. That is very interesting to me. So interesting, in point of fact, that I am taking it upon myself to interview all of my black friends (Northern and Southern) post-haste, in order to gain their perspectives on this issue. I will post updates in this space as they become available.
Question #3: Are there better ways to appreciate one's heritage?
This is a hyperbolic example, but I am fairly certain that most German people do not celebrate their Germanic heritage by displaying a Nazi emblem on their automobiles (although, you must admit, a few German citizens may acclaim to you in all sincerity that this insignia is deeply significant to them as an important symbol of their heritage). What I'm saying is that I think that it is important for me to choose more positive ways to express and appreciate my heritage. Speaking very candidly, I do not want to do anything intentionally that will in any way alienate or hurt another person of the same or a different race, religion, culture, or heritage.
Wow. This was an intellectually and emotionally draining post for me to write. I need to go take a walk now. Take good care.