Paraphrasing Rod Serling: Imagine, if you will, taking a walk down Fifth Avenue in New York and turning right onto Hermann Göering Way. Or, perhaps, shopping in Chicago on Emperor Hirohito Avenue? How would you feel going to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., if it were located on Adolf Hitler Boulevard?
I, for one, would be disgusted, upset, and infuriated. Each of these historical figures is responsible for the deaths of thousands of Americans, among others. Tyrants and warmongers devoid of conscience, they were to the detriment of all around them, friends, and enemies alike.
I live in Central Ohio and just the other day, I saw a vehicle flying the Confederate battle flag. I slightly know the family and they are not from the South, but even if they were, what do you think the message is they are trying to send?
Think about walking down Jefferson Davis Boulevard or Robert E. Lee Avenue or Jeb Stuart Drive. Think about walking past the statues of Confederate generals and Confederate politicians. Those people committed treason against the United States of America, were responsible for the deaths of over 360,000 Americans in the Union Army and 260,000 deaths of their own troops, and contributed to hundreds of thousands of non-fatal casualties – all to protect the institution of slavery.
Flying and displaying the Confederate flag is as despicable as flying the Nazi swastika. It is not part of the Southern culture like pecan pie, fried chicken, mint julips, cotillions, Nascar, or college football. It is part of continuing the mythology that obfuscates the treason and the reason for it, referring to the “War of Northern Aggression,” instead of the Civil War, or claiming the war was fought over “states’ rights,” not over slavery. Proponents of this mythology label the politicians and troops of the Confederacy “patriots” rather than what they really were: traitors to the United States of America.
I call bullshit. Let’s be honest with one another. Flying the Confederate battle flag anywhere, but particularly in Ohio or other non-southern state, is a great big sign saying that you don’t like people of color, African Americans in particular. It says you are on the side of the traitors and you are sorry the South lost. It is not about culture, it is about hate. If that pickup was flying a Nazi swastika, we would not hesitate to voice our objections….but most of us ignore the stars and bars.
We should not ignore it. We should call it out. We should reject it.
We should consider flying the Confederate battle flag as the perfect indicator of, and directional guide to, a racist asshole and react accordingly.