Years back I used to date a woman who lived in Columbia, SC. I went to visit her for a long weekend and while she was working during the day I would mill about the city. This was 2003.
I check out a few of the museums, the zoo, the college there and a bunch of other local fauna.
Then I drove past the capital building. And I saw it.
At the top of the state’s most important building was a confederate flag. Flying high and wide. I was in shock. And not much shocks me. I once found a guy that had been dead three days. No biggie. I slept great that night. But this one forced me to stop the car, get out, and stare. I kept waiting for Rod Serling’s voice to come from the shadows explaining that I had unknowingly stepped into a wormhole and transported back to the 1950s.
I was ashamed and offended that this situation existed. I mean, it’s not like it’s just flying above some asshole’s house down by the salt mines. This is the capital building. Anyway, I’ve never really researched why it’s there and all, and I imagine there’s some sort of reason. But, to me, it’s clearly wrong. That’s my opinion.
I had forgotten about this whole incident until I was in Atlanta earlier this summer. My girlfriend and I were at an engagement dinner and I met an attorney who prosecuted DUI offenders in Columbia. He works for the state. Since he probably goes to the capital I just had to ask him about that flag nonsense. Here’s the conversation, pretty much as it actually happened.
Hey, I once went to Columbia. I saw that flag thing on the state building. It blew my mind!
Oh yeah, huge topic of debate. The finally took it down.
Thank God! I mean, it’s 2012 – probably time to remove the most racist symbol of our society, right?
Well, actually, they moved it (showing a smirk on the left corner of his mouth) to a monument right in front. It’s actually even more visible now.
You’re shitting me. That’s nuts.
Oh, it’s not racist. Really it isn’t.
Yeah, it sort of is.
Well, black people think it is. But it isn’t.
– fin –
Now, I had to stop talking at this point because this guy totally knocked the verbal wind out of me. Here he is, an educated attorney, believing that the confederate flag isn’t a symbol of racism. And yes, I’m sure that’s not what the original flag designers had in mind. But things get attached to things and the meaning changes. The swastika was found in the Ukraine thought to be from 10,000 B.C. The meaning changed when the Nazis took hold of that symbol and did all their terribleness.
Now, I don’t mind when a dumb person says dumb things. I sort of expect it. But when an educated attorney actually thinks that a flag isn’t racist because it wasn’t it’s original intention, that blows my mind.
But – I am making room for error here. Am I totally off base? Did I miss something? Is this flag not the big deal I’m thinking it is?
My thought is that if the rest of the country generally associates it with the most shameful time in our history, isn’t that good enough to take it down, put it in a drawer, and push the armoire into a lake with weights? And then blow up the lake with dynamite? Ooh, I wonder if all the fish would explode and rain fish guts down upon the people watching the lake blow up. Because you know at least 20,000 people would go watch that. I know I would. I love a good show.
So, what’s your take on this? I’m from the Midwest and must admit I don’t really know much about this stuff. But my thought is that if you have a flag that most of the country thinks is racist, maybe just out of respect you should take it down.
Sorry this wasn’t funny – it’s just been bugging me. And I truly want to know if I’m the crazy one here. I often am.