The most outrageous act of this crusade to wipe away history occurred last week. The Memphis city council unanimously voted to remove the remains of Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest from the ground where he's been resting for well over 100 years (as well as those of his wife. Guilt by association?) from a city park... Oh! And they'll be selling off his statue to the highest bidder.
As scandalous as exhuming long-dead bodies may be, there is definitely something ironically symbolic about digging up the skeletons of our past in order to hide them away somewhere far less conspicuous.
But you can't really blame the poor local council members. Their actions are fueled by a raving mob of brazen fools bent on removing inanimate symbols at all cost... even if it takes blatant acts of trespassing, thieving, and vandalism.
All through the southern states, this mob is leaving a trail of spray painted gravestones and monuments honoring dead soldiers (from Charleston to Baltimore to Texas and even close to home here in North Carolina) in their wake.
|The work of civil rights activists or vandals?|
While some of the vandalism has taken place in cemeteries, most defacement has occurred on public statues in public places. And sure there are plenty of good arguments for removing Confederate flags and monuments honoring Confederate heroes from state houses and public universities (few of which have anything to do with racism but everything to do with nationalism and patriotism. The Confederate states no longer exist. It was a separate and defeated country. No amount of Southern pride justifies the flying of the flag of a conquered nation over government buildings... at least not in this humble southerner's opinion. I certainly wouldn't want any other foreign flag so flagrantly flown over our government legislative or judicial buildings).
But this isn't just about flags flying over government buildings any more. Now the mobs want to remove them ALL. The #noFlagginChallenge is encouraging private citizens to trespass and steal from other private citizens. In their self-righteous, morally superior frenzy, they've begun to destroy property, attack violently, and take what doesn't belong to them. Way to take the moral high ground, y'all.
#noFlagginchallenge snatch & run LMAO fuck the flag
Posted by Jamari Williams on Saturday, July 11, 2015
I understand that tensions are running high, that there's a lot of unfocused anger bubbling like an awakening volcano. The flames have been fanned by a media intent on spinning a narrative that does loads for spiking their ratings but little else. There are half truths and outright lies zipping all around the internet and the news and in social conversations. But people are angry over injustices, both real and perceived, and they just want to do something about it.
I know that I'm just a white middle-class southerner, so my opinion obviously doesn't count, but here it is anyway. This sort of behavior isn't doing anything to improve race relations in the South. These aren't civil rights activists wielding spray paint and camera phones. They are criminal thugs that fit the stereotype every racist asshole holds so firmly in his mind. That cultural gap between the races that often seems so vividly defined here in the South is growing to chasmal proportions with every stolen flag, every posted video, and every vandalized grave marker.
How does it feel to set back race relations by decades?
Here's the deal. You can steal every Confederate flag from south Florida to the Mason-Dixon line. You can tear down every monument to every Confederate statesman and every southern soldier who laid down his life defending his home and family from aggressive invaders. You can make displaying that flag, even on private property a hate crime. You can do all of that, but you still won't have changed a damned thing.
Even if the Confederate flag is a symbol of hate and racism and oppression (to some people it isn't, plain and simple. That's kind of the cool thing about this country. People are allowed to have differing opinions... even ones that aren't particularly popular), the complete whitewashing (How's that for an ironic term?) of the symbol from the public sphere does not erase the hate and racism and oppression that flag supposedly symbolizes.
Removing the symbol doesn't change what the symbol represents. My husband wears a wedding band that is a symbol of our marriage. If he were to remove that gold band and go out posing as a single man trying to pick up chicks... which he would never, EVER do (mostly because he is a good man and true to his word... but also because he knows that I can be a scary and vindictive shrew)... the lack of a visible wedding band makes him no less married. Likewise, the lack of visible Confederate flags makes our Society no less racist.
Perhaps the energy that's being expended to attack a stupid piece of fabric could be better invested in changing the hearts and minds of people. Which I assure you is not happening with these stupid hashtag challenges and their accompanying fist fights or the desecration of the monuments to ancestral dead. Perhaps we need to extend our hands in love and acceptance rather than extending our fists in violence. Perhaps we need to stop focusing on the things that divide us and instead focus on the things that unite us.
Or maybe it's just time to move on to the next idiotic cultural obsession. Can we get some irrelevant celebrity to twerk or something?... Please?