The recent assassination of the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, a politician clergyman in an historic church in Charleston, South Carolina, and the slaughter of eight members of his congregation; Cynthia Hurd, Suzy Jackson, Ethel Lance, the Rev. Depayne Middleton-Doctor, Tywanza Sanders, the Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr., the Rev. Sharonda Singleton, and Myra Thompson, all of whom are black, by a white gunman said to be inspired by the Confederate flag and the doctrine of white supremacy, has opened up a renewed examination of the symbolic meaning behind the flag and a not equally intense look at white supremacist groups.
Although white supremacy and the Confederate flag are perpetually linked, reforming our (the Nation’s) relationship with the Confederate flag seems now to be the easy lift. I think that the foremost reason this is true is because the amount of white people (mostly white southerners) who need the prominence of the flag to prop up their sense of self-worth has diminished; by age demographic, change of heart, or death. In the days since the call for the removal of the Confederate flag began the entrenched chasm between the flags meaning for white people and black people has been underscored; what’s different now is that white support for the flag has tapered; even in the south – especially in the south.
Until this mad racist white boy struck, white southerners have always hid behind the transparent belief that the flag stool for heritage, white southern pride, and a tribute to the bravery of rebels who fought to break up the United States of America in order to maintain slavery. But when this 21 year old assassin acted on what he learned from white supporters of the flag, suddenly there was less to hide behind and some white people, abhorred by what they were passing on to their youth, emerged from under the darken voids of oppression into the sun light of genuineness; the question is – for how long? How long before the newly awakened return to the fold of the permanently truth deprived; the white people who still maintain a mistaken belief of the Confederate flag’s real symbolism.
Here; remember the scene in the movie Forrest Gump, when Forrest and his girlfriend Jenny Curran were walking home from school and a Jeep load of young white thugs came after Forrest. To communicate to the theater audience the danger Forrest was in, the film director had the camera focused on the Confederate flag license plate in the front of the Jeep. The Jeep was moving fast, but Forrest was moving faster and Jenny was screaming “Run, Forrest Run.” This wordless scene told the theater audience all it needed to know. Boy running, good; boys in Jeep with Confederate flag emblem, bad. My guess is that even southern Confederate flag supporters accepted the metaphoric cinematic application of the disparaging symbolic meaning of the flag in this instant, but they enjoyed the movie so much that they didn’t bitch about the liberal Jews using the flag in this way.
At bottom, the Confederate flag ought to carry the same meaning for white people as it does for black people. The problem now is that some white southerners can’t bring themselves to admit that they come from a barbarous link of humanity that created all the indefensible history that is represented by this flag. Enlightened white people remain silent and don’t confront their confused or willfully wrong white brothers and sisters.
In a huge way the problem is white silence, but I’ve got white friends even some whom I’ve yet to meet, who assure me that their silence on this matter is a thing of the past. When they do come to grip with their link to their ruthless ancestors and own up to it by denouncing the brutality of their ancestors and correct the wrongheaded thinking of other white people in their own circle, then, and only then, will they be able to separate themselves from that past and ask to be seen afresh. Oh, and this will also be when the Confederate flag will have its one true repulsive meaning to us all. The time should come when white southerners are more embarrassed by the real symbolism of the Confederate flag than anyone else. Then let’s move on to more serious problem of white supremacist.