Friday, June 26, 2015

Overreactions "R" Us

Many people are unwilling to let any tragedy go without overreacting. I have written before about how the pendulum of public opinion swings widely from left to right but very rarely settles in the middle. The most recent example is the uproar about the Confederate Battle Flag.
At the peril of being called a racist I am adding a picture of the flag in question. It is part of our country's history, an ugly and tragic part, but nevertheless a part. 

Before I get too far into this post, let me state unequivocally that I do not think that the battle flag or any other flag of the Confederacy should be flown at a state capitol or many other government sites. I will not go so far as to propose banning it completely from all government property because there are probably state owned museums, battlegrounds and cemeteries where I think it would be appropriate. I don't think states should issue "specialty" license plates with the Confederate flag on them. Mississippi needs to remove the stars and bars from their state flag. 

That being said, those that are demanding the banning of the battle flag are completely delusional about what freedom of speech entails. Freedom from being offended is not part of the deal. If Walmart, Amazon, eBay, Sears (does anybody still shop at Sears?), or other retailers want to stop selling the flags or products with the insignia that is their choice. I can't imagine that these products were a big seller that contributed much to their bottom lines. What I am sure is that there will be a huge surge in the sale of these items and a cottage industry will be born. 

A couple of weeks ago no one was talking about the Confederate Battle Flag. Now it is the cause of all racism in this country. Many staunchly proud or mislead Southerners are outraged that the flag is under attack. Many African-Americans and civil rights activists are outraged that the flag hasn't been banned. The right needs to admit that this symbol does not belong at a state house. The left needs to accept that the flag is coming down at government sites and hopefully will soon at the South Carolina capitol. If the South Carolina legislature is too stupid to remove it then there should be protests and boycotts every day until it is. 

Regardless of what the various state and local governments decide there is no way we can justify banning the flag. If people or businesses want to display the symbol that is their right. In fact, it will make it easier for us to determine businesses we may or may not want to avoid or people we may or may not want to associate with. I'm not saying everyone that supports or displays the battle flag is a racist. Many are proud southerners who believe the flag represents that pride or honors their ancestors who honorably fought on the side of the south in the Civil War. Most of the Confederate soldiers were not slave holders although they did probably support slavery. Remember, it is almost always unfair to judge our ancestor's behavior based on today's mores. 

I consider myself a proud southerner. I was raised and educated in Florida. I was always thankful that my parents moved to Florida when I was very young, especially when we went back north on vacations to visit the relatives. I have lived virtually my entire adult life in Florida, Georgia and Texas, all staunch Confederate states. There is much for the south to be proud of. There are also things in the south's past, some fairly recent, that she should not be proud of. 

Let's try to not overreact to the current situation. The terrorist who killed those people in Charleston is a racist. The Confederate Battle Flag is not why he did it. The talking heads and activists on both sides of the issue are fanning the flames. Hyperbole is the norm.

The white supremacist terrorist murder of those eight people in Charleston is an atrocity. The flying of the Confederate flag and laws governing that in South Carolina are wrong. This too will pass hopefully with further steps towards equality for all. Let's all work toward fixing our racial divide and let's all never support banning words, ideas or symbols.


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