I cannot help feeling that a culture that advocates the banning or burning of flags is on the slippery slope to becoming a society that advocates the banning or burning of books. To fight intolerance with intolerance is to fight fire with fire, or, to extend the alliterative analogy still further, it is to fight fascism with fascism. Those of us who cherish our freedom cannot help but be disturbed by this turn of events.
Particularly disturbing is the fact that this kneejerk reaction has been caused by the actions of one pathetically pathological neo-Nazi or neo-Nutzi. What would happen if an equally pathetic and pathological young man, carrying Old Glory, walked into a mosque in Dearborn, Michigan, and opened fire on Muslims at prayer? Would there be calls for the banning or burning of the American flag? Of course not, even though it would no doubt lead to the burning of the American flag by Arabs in an angered Middle East and perhaps by angry Muslims on the streets of Dearborn, Michigan. Rather than any suggestion that the nation’s flag should be banned, there would be a sense of shame, mingled perhaps with a sense of disgust, that an act of terrorism had been carried out under the flag of the American nation. There would, however, be an insistence that the flag and the nation should not be judged on the basis of the deranged misperceptions of one individual about the meaning of both the nation and its flag.
In the dark and dismal days of my youth, as a teenage member of a white supremacist organization in my native England, I carried the red, white and blue of my own country’s flag, the Union Flag or Union Jack, believing that it represented my own bigoted and racist creed. Should the British flag be banned because it is used or abused by neo-Nazi British Nationalists? Should the Confederate Flag be banned because it is used or abused by neo-Nazi members of the Ku Klux Klan? If so, should Old Glory be banned because it, too, is used or abused by the Ku Klux Klan? Should the Confederate Flag be banned because it was flown in the Civil War (or War Between the States) by those who resisted the abolition of the abomination which is human slavery? If so, should Old Glory be banned because it was the flag under which the slave trade was conducted?
At this juncture, I sense that I will be irritating many of my readers. How dare I compare Old Glory with the Confederate Battle Flag? Like it or not, my irritated readers are no doubt saying, the Confederate Flag is forever sullied by its historical association with slavery and for its contemporary association with the KKK and neo-Nazi skinheads. Any comparison between such a flag and the dignity of the Stars and Stripes is illicit and perhaps offensive.
My readers have a point. Indeed, I concede the point.
I am not interested in defending the Confederate Flag but in defending the freedom of others to fly it. Take, for instance, Byron Thomas, the student at the University of South Carolina who, in 2011, refused to take down the Confederate Flag which was displayed in his dorm-room window. The university authorities gave the student an ultimatum to take it down because it was “racist” and therefore offensive to other students. The student refused to remove the flag on the grounds that it was not a racist flag but was merely the flag of his homeland and a symbol of Southern heritage. The student in question was an African-American. And then there is the case of H. K. Edgerton, an African-American member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, who, as the former president of the Asheville, North Carolina chapter of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), is a Southern heritage activist who advocates the restoration of the Confederate Flag.
Once again, I sense that I have exasperated my readers. Surely, I can hear them say, you can’t use eccentric and unusual people such as these two African American mavericks to justify your position? My response would be to ask whether they are any more eccentric and unusual than Dylann Roof? If it is illicit to use the small minority of African Americans who fly the Confederate Flag as grounds for defending the flag, why is it not illicit to use a solitary psychopath as grounds for banning it?
As one who has adopted South Carolina as my home, I am delighted to count Byron Thomas and H. K. Edgerton, my flag flying black brothers, as my neighbours. I will, however, not be joining them in flying the flag, though as a freedom loving adoptive son of the South I hope that they will continue to be free to do so. I will not be flying the flag because, whether I like it or not, people will think that I’m a racist if I do so. This was the case before the spectre of Dylann Roof came to haunt us and is even more the case now that his moment of madness has allowed the media to launch a witch-hunt against the South.
No, I shan’t be flying the Confederate Flag but visitors to our home will continue to see the state flag of South Carolina flying from our porch, as it has done for several years. Now, as more and more of our freedoms are being stripped away by big government, aided and abetted by big business and big media, the need for States Rights and the devolution of power away from the Federal Government are more needed than ever. As an adoptive son of the South, sickened by Dylann Roof’s atrocity and by the witch-hunt that has been unleashed in its wake, I will continue to fly my state’s flag as a symbol of the freedoms we have either lost or are in the process of losing.
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