Friday, September 4, 2015

The Confederate Flag

It amazes me that people are so attached to this flag.  People who never gave this flag much thought in their entire lives, are suddenly up in arms because "politically correct liberals" want to take it away.  Look, I'm not going to go into a history of the flag; there's plenty of other sites doing that right now.  Nor am I going to argue whether or not it's a symbol of hate.  Like any symbol, it's going to mean different things to different people.  Personally, I'm happy to take measures to avoid offending other people... within reason. 

What's "within reason"?  There's no clear cut definition, but I know it when I see it.  It's a combination of how much work it is for me, versus how much it offends them and why. 

If someone asks me not to use the word "moist" in their presence because it makes them nauseous, I'll do my best to remember.  Yes it's silly, but it's a little thing that means more to them than it does to me.  If someone asks me to cut off my pinky finger because even numbers are against their religion, that's not within reason.  Somewhere in the middle is the confederate flag. 

Personally I've never had any affection for that particular flag.  Orange is my least favorite color, and the flag has a pretty ugly design in my opinion.  I'm not a huge fan of the South, despite having lived here my entire life.  So I'm already biased.  But for the fun of it, let's say I love the flag.  Maybe I had one in my nursery, and always had one on my wall growing up.  Maybe orange is my favorite color, and my favorite TV series was Dukes of Hazzard.  Maybe I have strong Southern roots, and the flag reminds me of all my aunts and cousins.  Maybe it brings back all kinds of warm fuzzy memories of growing up barefoot, catching crawdads in the crick.  Maybe the racism connection is all new to me, and until a few weeks ago I'd only associated the flag with downhome goodness and Southern hospitality.

If I were that person, and just now realized how offensive the confederate flag is to some people, would I be willing to toss all my flags in the trash and live without seeing it? 

...Honestly, I don't know.  I have to admit, I've been resistant to change in the past.  There have been times when I found out that something I've been saying is now considered offensive, and my first reaction was, "What crybabies.  I don't mean anything offensive when I say it, so they can just get over it."  It's not mature, but it's human nature.  I usually come around eventually, once I've had time to do my own research. 

But again, it's how much it means to you versus how much it means to them.  If I were as attached to the flag as the hypothetical person I've described above, I could see a conflict.  But I've never met anyone with such an attachment.  I can't recall any of my acquaintances ever wearing a confederate flag on their clothing, or seeing one on their wall, or seeing any connection between them and the flag at all.  And yet, these same people are suddenly willing to die for the ugly thing. 

And make no mistake, they are being offensive on purpose.  They are so against political correctness, that they automatically side against whatever the "social justice warriors" are rallying for.  If the "evil liberal media" were to speak out against drinking cyanide, these proud Southerners would climb over each other to poison themselves. 

For most of these people, removing the flag from their lives would be easy.  It might take no action at all.  It might take throwing out a beer cozy or two, or replacing your "Southern And Proud" vanity plate.  It would mean so little to them, but it means so much to the people who associate the confederate flag with racism. 

Everyone wants to be proud of who they are.  It's a fundamental psychological need, necessary for mental health.  You have to like yourself in order to keep going.  Otherwise life just seems pointless. 

In my opinion, the best thing to be proud of is your accomplishments.  There's nothing wrong with being proud of your country, or hometown, or high school, or whatever, but for the most part you didn't have much of a hand in making those things what they are.  Still, if you don't have a lot of accomplishments of your own, you might as well be proud of your surroundings.

It's when that pride turns into jingoism that I get annoyed.  It's okay to be proud to be an American.  It becomes a problem when you're so proud that you think America can do no wrong.  It's a problem when you think America should never change.  It's a problem when you think America is the best country on Earth, despite never having visited any other countries.

I have friends who were born and raised here in the South.  They believe their country the greatest country on the planet.  They believe their state is the best state in the country.  They believe their hometown is the best city in the state.  Their religion is the only true religion, their denomination is the one true denomination, and their specific church is the only group of people doing it right. 

A big part of growing up is realizing you were wrong.  You constantly learn new things that overwrite previous misconceptions.  But people reach a certain age and they just want to stop learning.  They want everything to stay the way it is.  They object to progress, because it changes the world they are used to.  They refuse to listen to new ideas, because they don't want new thoughts.  They figure, "My way of thinking has kept me alive all these years, obviously it's the only way to live."

Really, what are the odds that you would be born in the greatest city of the greatest state of the greatest country, to parents who worship the one and only real religion? 

The facts:  No country considers itself the #2 country on Earth.  Now, I'm not saying you would have been just as happy in any other country.  Clearly, some countries are full of miserable people.  But among the major free countries, yes, you would probably be just as happy if you'd been born there.

But but but... "America is the best because people fought for our freedom!"  All countries have war heroes, America is not unique on that. And your ancestors may have been brave people, but they weren't perfect.  Not every decision they made was right. Be proud of the good things they did, but seriously, it's not disrespectful to recognize they had shortcomings.  They'd want you to improve on their failings.  It's every generation's goal to make sure the next generation is better than the last.

...And it really is an ugly flag.

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