Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Further Thoughts on Charleston, the Stars and Bars, Confederate Battle Flag, Symbolism and Such...

Rational Nation USA
Purveyor of Truth


A forewarning, this post will cover a few things and may very well get off on a tangent at times. It may become rambling and likely piss someone off a time or two. My apology in advance if it does; but that is just the ways things are. As "they" say, there is an ass for every seat and it seems there should be a thought for every mind. At least for those who choose to use their mind.

Watching the 2014 Netflix series The Following about a psychopathic serial killer with a cult of followers it got me thinking about how it parallels American politics. Now don't get me wrong here, the parallel has nothing to do with serial or cult murders, not one iota. It does however resemble, in a metaphorical way the followers of political parties and even religious sects conduct themselves as they instinctively react, almost in unison to what the party or religion asks them to. As a result engaging in any real and meaningful discussion is made almost impossible. Intended by to "powers behind the throne" methinks.

It's interesting how some folks, and they are found in every political and social group, grasp onto a particular theory, ideology, or belief that is advocated by the group without applying their own critical thinking skills. It simply gets accepted because the group or party says it is right or "good". That is certainly okay if one wants to be a follower. Perhaps many do; in fact is likely they do. This kind of behavior used to be called in psychology Groupthink. Groupthink in and of itself is not necessarily bad, however, it does become troubling and poses problems when those same folks berate, belittle, malign, misrepresent, and disrespect those who don't share their views or don't belong to the group, club, or party.

Just why it is that so many are troubled, or feel threatened by original thoughts or new ideas remains a mystery to folks who see things as they could be and should be. Maybe it's because a lot of folks see things as they are and become comfortable with it. That's okay for them, as long as they think it's okay for the rest to keep searching for something new and perhaps better. Hell, it's a good thing our radical forefathers, the enlightened and liberal thinkers that they were devised the democratic republic that they did. Right?. They were even so damn smart they crafted a way to change the founding and governing document to keep up with changing times and attitudes. Thankfully it hasn't been used all that much and as a result we've had a stable government for well over 200 years. Maybe the time has come to tweak t just a bit to keep t fresh and the people supporting it. BTW, did I mention where we would still be if somebody hadn't discovered fire and though of the round wheel? Learned how to use levers, discovered electricity and how to harness it, pump oil from below the earth's surface, been inquisitive enough to find and use vaccines, enveloped the internal combustion engine, learned how to create lift so it became possible to fly, etc, ans so forth? You get the picture right? Nothing stays the same forever, the same is true in politics and governance as well.

Once there was this really, really smart guy who wrote the Declaration of Independence that resulted in our breaking away from Great Britain, his name was Thomas Jefferson and he wrote some great stuff about all men being created equal and endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights. If memory serves among these rights were life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. People loved it when it was written and it is still thought of as one of the great western documents. When studying these weighty and patriotic subjects in school, and in college, it always seemed odd that somehow the negro got overlooked when it cane to the freedom thing. That kinda reminded me of the "all animals are free, but some animals are freer than others". Now where was it that popped up? Oh yes, the reading of Animal Farm.

Anyway, 75 years or so later, in 1863 (if memory serves) another man came along by the name of Abraham Lincoln who wrote the Emancipation Proclamation . That fine document declared that slave were free men and women, something that was, as pointed out before, overlooked when the colonies declared their independence. For some it wasn't a problem because after all an entire region of the nation's economy was built on human bondage and slave labor. In fact Thomas Jefferson owned slaves, but he did free 5 male slaves upon his death. Before the Emancipation Proclamation was written the nation embarked on a great War Between the States that started in 1861 and resulted in the loss of some 620,000 souls before it ended. Many causes have been given for the War Between the States and to one extent or another they all played a part. But, suffice it to say the Great American Civil War became at least symbolic of freeing the American slaves.

Freedom for the African American was certainly no utopia as discrimination and overt racism continued to be a part of their lives. After Reconstruction the African American continued to face obstacles and discrimination well into (and beyond) the mid 1900's There were the Jim Crow laws and the Ku Klux Klan and opportunity, especially in he south was almost non existent.

There has been a lot in the news about race, racism, the Confederate Battle Flag, the Confederate Stars and Bars, andsouthern heritage and pride, The senseless massacre of 9 African Americans at a historical church in Charleston, South Carolina by 21 year old Dylan Roof brought these issue to America's consciousness again. Roof, in what was an obvious racially motivated massacre. This horrific crime has brought forth an outpouring of sympathy and support from South Carolinian citizens that bridges and unites the races. Yet, there remains some who fail to recognize the symbolism the Confederate Flag(s) hold for the African Americans we live and work with. For them, and many of us, it symbolizes the worst of America as it represents human bondage on our shores and the fight to keep it a viable economic and social system. Fortunately more prominent public officials are recognizing the need to remove the symbols of slavery from public display and relegate them to a museum of American history.

We shall leave you with this anecdote. While discussing American history with an African American friend several years my senior we found ourselves talking about race relations and racial attitudes in general. We agreed that there has been much progress (James lived in the south and was subjected to Jim Crow and the presence of the KKK) but much more is needed. As James is also somewhat a fan of Thomas Jefferson we begin talking about his legacy and his Declaration of Independence. James is an independent man and stubborn too. As we talked abut what a fine man Jefferson was and the truth of he ideals he enshrined in the DOI James asked me a question. In a simple and non judgmental way he asked me if I saw any hypocrisy in Jefferson's words and his actions. After a brief moment I answered honestly saying, why of course. Jim smiled and nodded. He then said Les, the history of African American bondage, the Jim Crow laws and the KKK as well as racial profiling are etched into history and memories of my people. He continued, saying I am an American and proud to be an American; proud to have raised my family in a great country even given it warts. But... those things, they still hurt me and they still hurt others of my race. I hope you understand Les.

This is for you James, and for the millions just like you. I hope you're well and that one day we meet again.

7 comments:

  1. A friend at work told me today that in his opinion there is no such a thing as racism "anymore" and that everyone has the same chance in America today and all are treated the same. He is a Republican. Nice guy. Not very realistic.

    JMJ

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There are lots of folks exactly like your friend. Nice' friendly, and compassionate. And; at the same time not very realistic.

      Delete
  2. Did some more recent research into an issue mentioned by Shaw recently. Jersey, I am sure you have plenty to throw in that nice guy's face, so to speak.

    Here is just one example. A situation where green should be the only color that matters, so to speak, but it is not.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I’ve been thinking about this post since yesterday.

    What to say?

    Too many words, but nothing quite hits mark.

    The recollection you describe is exactly right. History hurts. Bigotry hurts. The terrible legacy of slavery, Black Codes, and Jim Crow hurts. Persecution hurts. Racial profiling hurts. It destroys the soul. Destroys people.

    Too many charlatans, self-serving interests, and egos hijacked the moment. This moment should not have been about us. It should not have been about the Smut Hut and past insults. Not about a murderer radicalized by a Google search. Not about Will-the-Shill justifying racial profiling from a Google search.

    It should have been about the innocent victims of a totally senseless crime: Clementa C. Pinckney, Cynthia Marie Graham Hurd, Susie Jackson, Ethel Lee Lance, Depayne Middleton-Doctor, Tywanza Sanders, Tywanza Sanders, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, and Myra Thompson.

    We need to be kinder, gentler to the people who have lost so much. It’s the only ethical and moral thing to do.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And their names are much more worth remembering than that of that loserl (O)ct.

      Delete
  4. Thoughtful post, RN. You've given us lots to think about. And, yes, the victims should be foremost in our thoughts. Peace.

    ReplyDelete

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