Racism and the Confederate Flag

Before you get your knickers in a wad, let me say that I would never fly the Confederate Flag. Why? Because it offends people. My history and heritage are what they are whether the flag flies or not. And I certainly don't think the flag should fly over any public or government building.

That being said, however, I do feel the overall simplification of labeling anyone celebrating or supporting the Confederate Flag as racist is not accurate. In fact, I think it's even simpler than that -- it's selfish pride, a trait embedded in our DNA and as human nature as breathing. So this article is not to justify support of the flag, but to perhaps explain it.

Some people in the media act like they can't understand how anyone could support the flag at all. Jon Stewart compared the Confederacy to Nazis. You remember Nazis, right, the guys who killed six million Jews in gas chambers and started a planetary war in the name of world domination? All the South did was try to start their own country, and paid the price for it.

But Stewart labeled this event as treason and the people involved as traitors. That's probably accurate. But less than a century earlier, everyone in this country was guilty of the same thing when it was decided that we would secede from England and start our own country.

Yet we celebrate the American Revolution as heroic, not traitorous. We have museums that proudly display uniforms and the American Revolutionary Flag, the one with the 13 stars in a circle. But aren't we being a little insensitive to the British for doing this? After all, we were traitors.

The British don't celebrate this event in history class, nor are their bookstores lined with books on the subject. They don't celebrate the Tea Party or hail Paul Revere. It's simply a stain on their history and when they do talk about it, it's about how villains, privateers, and traitors stole their land.

But we are proud of the war because it's ours. It's a part of us and who we are. We feel connected to it. Heck, we even brag about the ungentlemanly tactics of guerrilla warfare we invented to win the war. Why, you could even make a movie about it and call it The Patriot.

Less than a century later we were appalled by the Vietcong using the same exact maneuvers against our soldiers. So why was it right when we did it? Because we did it. When the Vietcong ignored the Geneva Convention and tortured our troops, we thought it despicable and it sickened us as a nation. When we did it, however, it was for the right reasons.

Japanese and German snipers were considered cowards in WWII. But now our military realizes how valuable an asset this can be. Now snipers are heroes and you could even make a Hollywood movie about that. And why? Because it's ours.

That's why some Southerners still cling to the flag. It's theirs. They feel connected to it. It's not to demean another race of Americans. When a person puts a Confederate Flag bumper sticker on their car or buys a shirt with the flag on it, they're not thinking, "That'll show those black people."

But racism is very real. It has evolved, but it is alive and well in this country. It always will be. My dad's era of using the "N" word has almost disappeared. Now we live in the era of "If we can have a Black Miss America, why can't we have a White Miss America?" Seriously, I have friends who say things like that often.

The most dangerous form of racism today, however, is the belief, or at least the assertion, that racism doesn't exist anymore. Bill O'Reilly believes it basically does not except on the fringes. In other words, people like Dylann Roof, the guy who killed nine people in a Charleston church, are not racist but insane. Actually he was both. But not every racist is insane or vice versa.

Racism and prejudice are a part of who we are as a species. Again, it's as simple as selfish pride and every human has it in them. Mine is better than yours. My country is better, my college, my football team, my military, my family, my friends, my home, my morals, my church, my religion, my God, and yes, in the dark crevices of our mind that we never share with others -- my heritage, be it Southern, Northern, African- American, Mexican, Indian, Eskimo, etc., -- is better than yours. People will always be prejudiced to what's theirs.

And that sums up the reason that some people in the South still support the Confederate Flag. It's simply a matter of selfish pride, of feeling a sense of connection to something they believe belongs to them. Are they racists? Sure they are, but no more than everyone else.