Posts Tagged ‘beware’

Damn Flag

Monday, June 22nd, 2015

I was going to avoid talking about it. I tried. I really tried.

My heart was hurting last week thinking about the shooting in Charleston. I had not begun to think about who did the shooting or why, only to think about the terrible loss. Inevitably, conversations turned to racism, gun control, metal health care. It seemed to me that these conversations happened all too quickly. Didn’t anyone need time just to grieve? Didn’t anyone need time to think and process? Apparently not as much time as I needed. So I vowed to take that time and stay out of the conversation.

It’s not that I don’t have pretty strong opinions on those subjects. You know I do. And it’s not that I don’t share those opinions easily. You know I do. But it seems that we hit the familiar arguments as some measure of protection so we can spare ourselves the hurt of discussing the individual loss of life to an act of violence. We drop into a comfort zone of those arguments we know so well that we can spout our position without thinking. I felt those victims deserved my attention- before the reasons, the preventions, the arguments, I just needed to hurt. And I did.

Then that damn flag discussion started. For the record I want that damn flag taken down. For the record I believe that there are two flag issues – the one at the State house which clearly does not represent all of the people our the state and so must come down, and the ones everywhere else (and I do mean everywhere around here) which are expressions of free speech but pretty awful speech in my opinion. But I was going to take a step back and just listen. I live in South Carolina. I have lived here for four years. I am not from here. I am not from the south. I have neighbors who fly that damn flag. There is a store nearby that sells that damn flag and “southern merchandise”. My neighbors, but the way, are nice folks. They are good, kind neighbors and I do not believe they are racists, prone to violence, or full of hate. I do believe that some folks who fly that damn flag are violent, hateful, racists. So that damn flag bothers me, makes me uncomfortable, makes me angry, makes me wonder about anyone who flies it.  I’ve been told that damn flag is a symbol of southern pride and heritage. And when I say I fail to understand that reasoning, I am told that since I am not from the south, since I have no family history in the civil war,  I may never understand it.  Perhaps that’s true. So there I was hurting, and vowing to myself to keep my mouth shut.

I let the hurt seep in as much as I could take. Now its time to start talking and start doing. So here is what I have to say about that damn flag. To those who defend it as a symbol of southern heritage and pride: if you really mean that, then why didn’t you protect that symbol from the folks who stole it and co-opted it as a symbol for hate? where were you when that flag was raised while crosses were burning? where is your outrage when that flag is waved after a hate crime is committed? Your pride seems to be limited to taking offense when someone tells you to take it down.  Sorry, but you did not adequately protect your symbol. It now stands for racism and hate. You have lost that fight. And your fight was never with me, it was the hate-filled, violent, racists with whom you never really bothered to do battle. You lost. Take down your damn flag. Start with the one on the State house lawn. But let’s not stop there.

I will be talking louder and more frequently in my home state of South Carolina. I will be talking about damn flags, guns, racism. Wish me luck.