The confederate flag has been in the news quite a bit lately, propelled by the recent shooting of 8 black worshipers at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, North Carolina. A horrendous act of aggression brought on by an extremely racist man with a skewed sense of reality. Something tells he that he would be welcome in with another group that I have recently written about, The European Brotherhood.
One side effect of this unfortunate situation was that it brought the previously hidden issue that is the confederate flag into full view. The issue being, what it is representative of. One can list racism, slavery and of course a lost war (a treasonous one at that).
Being its terrible history, I don’t really think its unreasonable for many people (particularly from the black community) to be uncomfortable or offended by its presence at public locations like state legislatures or other government properties. And due to this public pressure, some states (namely South Carolina and Alabama) have taken measures towards, or quit, flying the confederate flag. In North Carolina, an activist managed to take the flag down herself. For this, she (and her helper) may have to pay up to a $5,000 fine and face 3 years in prison (if convicted). The pairs crime being defacing a monument.
That is an interesting question.
It is a comparison that even I would not have been quick to make, being that the background culture that I grew up in did not put nearly as much emphasis on the negative aspects of the confederate flag, in comparison to the Nazi flag. In fact, its so watered down (at least here in Canada) that I know many here that display the flag, some even flying it on their houses. I used to wonder why people in Canada would fly it (most recently on twitter).
But it occurs to me that it is less of a symbol of hate to these people then it is a prop representing southern pride. Or as is the more common context:
The majority of respondents to a recent CNN poll (57%) said that they seen the flag as more a sign of southern pride then one of racism (that group getting 33%). Though that poll is likely equivalent to anecdotal material since its (likely) based only around CNN viewers, it does confirm that different people assign different things to the symbol that is the confederate flag.
Some obviously view it in a less sinister manor. Others like a fellow quoted in my European Brotherhood piece (and maybe these guys) view it differently.
It is possible that many who view the flag in a more positive manor are ignorant to a lot of the other historical context associated with it (the racism, slavery and such). And it is possible that these people may look at it differently if they take those contexts into consideration. Would it be viewed in the same way as the Nazi flag or the white garb of the Ku Klux Klan? Who knows.
No matter what however, though I am speaking here for only myself (people can agree, but I don’t claim to speak FOR anyone else), I think that the flag has no place in or around governmental institutions. The only exception to that would be if it were used in the context of history (such as a government operated or funded museum).
Though I think that it be wise to teach people more historical context (to those that view the flag primarily without), I don’t really agree with the many companies and corporations that are dumping confederate themed products due to this recent movement.
Big department stores and online outlets promising to quit selling the flag and other confederate oriented merchandise. Apple briefly pulled confederate-oriented games from its store. And Bubba Watson, owner of one of the many “General Lee’s” produced in the making of The Dukes of Hazard, has made his intent to paint over the cars confederate flag (replacing it with an American flag) public. And recently Walmart was called out by a fellow for refusing to bake a confederate themed cake, yet allowing an ISIS themed cake.
This reaction is an annoyance, because it seems like a reaction just for the publicity. A way of taking advantage of the situation in the same way that many did back when Gene Simmons fucked up last year, just previous to Robin William’s suicide.
Side note to that story, our local Bell affiliate station has Kiss back in rotation.
Besides punishing the other members of Kiss for simply being in a band with Gene, the whole concept is moot anyway, because of the nature of how social media boycotts work. Wait awhile, and we will have all forgotten the incident.
Its almost as though I could see it coming.
But moving on, one thing to keep an eye on is if all this hesitation shown towards confederate merchandise is going to hold, 6 months to a year from now (when the public moves on).
Even so however, I don’t think that this move by all of these companies (for the publicity or not) was even necessary in the first place. I understand that they may want to disassociate themselves from the flag. But it seems silly that any company should have to take that stance, since they are essentially a service provider.
Any department store, online store, bakery or other business is not necessarily affiliated with the sum of their products offered. Should a store sell a variety of ISIS, Nazi and confederate themed merchandise, that just makes them a store that caters to the very discriminating consumer. Should a bakery agree to bake an ISIS, Nazi or confederate themed cake, that just means they will customize a cake for pretty much anyone. If they do stand by a principal, it is that of the $$. Show me the money, and I don’t give a fuck what you want me to make.
This is how it should be.
It is the choice of the business whether or not they want to appease the wants and needs of their more controversial clientèle. But they should not be forced or otherwise pressured into this decision. And most importantly, the decision TO fill that niche should not be used as a reflection of the values of the business as a whole. They are just a middle man service provider.
It would be a bit like labeling Internet Service Providers and Cellular Data Carriers racist, sexist, bigoted and other terms, just for delivering external (and related) web content to subscribers requesting it.
To sum it all up, though the confederate flag is indeed a part of history, it does not have a place in governmental institutions (does Germany fly the Nazi flag in their government buildings? Its a big part of their history to).