A neighbor on my block has a Confederate flag hanging from his porch.
I find it deeply offensive, but there seems to be a “don’t fuck with me, I won’t fuck with you” understanding between us that keeps the peace.
As a person from a big city, I’ve seen my fair share of racism and to be sure the North isn’t immune to it. If you believe certain people in Philadelphia, young black children seem to have an adverse effect on the chlorine levels of public pools and apparently loitering around your own house is illegal in the state of Massachusetts. That said, the racism in the North doesn’t seem organic, it seems to be more of the empty echoes and not the person doing the screaming.
Things are different in the South. When you experience racism in the South, you’re getting the raw feed, the straight dope, the “Up yours, Nigger!” with no chaser.
It’s stifling and hangs heavy in the air down here. It’s so thick you can touch it. Every beautiful open field is weighed down by an atrocity committed there, every bubbling creek has a murder mystery wading just beneath the surface. Like the monster from the Stephen King novel, It floats and waits. It has never been defeated, only contained and content to lay dormant for a time and like Pennywise, the clown with the razorblade smile, it feeds on fear and thrives on hatred.
At first, I didn’t mind the people with the bumper stickers and t-shirts. I just figured them for folks jerking off to too much “boot ‘n yer ass” Toby Keith and tuning in to the new attempts to resurrect the “Southern Strategy” by Bill O’Reilly and the Fox News All-Stars. I couldn’t be more wrong. The folks down here aren’t drinking the Kool-Aid, they’re the ones making it.
They’re the ones trying to rebrand history, saying that the Rebel Flag is nothing more than a testament to a proud heritage, a symbol of a simple people from the soil who stood up for what they believed in, damn the consequences. It would be a great sell too, if you’re willing to overlook the mass manipulation and brutalization of an entire racial group over the course of a century part.
Even if you don’t see the Confederacy as a treasonous conspiracy to overthrow it’s government to maintain the evil practice of slavery and you don’t care that they got their asses handed to them, how can anyone in their right mind and equipped with a good conscience stand under a flag that was a symbol for this:
This is what they’re selling:
This is what you’re buying:
Not as sexy, is it?
There’s blood on that flag, suffering sewn deep into every stitch. The only reason it should ever be exposed to open air is to remind people of the evil that men do and an opportunity for people to promise that it won’t happen again.
People like to say “The South Shall Rise Again!” and I’ve got no beef with that, my daughters were born in the South and so shall my son. The question is, what kind of South will it be? Will it be a place where my children and the children of others will grow happy, free from the shackles of a dark past ? Or will it be a place where that dark past is cherished and flies under a banner of fear? The kind of fear that floats and waits?
Like the clown with the razorblade smile?