Staying Civil

By David Angelo (@mrdavidangelo)



ItŐs always hard for people to make sense of mass shootings; thatŐs obvious from the incoherent babble bloggers feel compelled to publish before the police tape is even up. This recently tragedy in Charleston is both another example of our societyŐs pathological obsession with violence but also our hypocritical and unproductive search for answers.


The news media, run out of New York, has latched onto the ŇSouthernessÓ of this crime. The Confederate flag on the grounds of the state capitol has taken center stage in the debate. Why? Because it absolves Northern/New York political commentators of any blame. They arenŐt racist, remember? ItŐs Southerners who are the problem here.


In The North, it is simply accepted that Southern whites are backwards morons. Whenever a standup comic in New York or Los Angeles wants to portray an ignorant racist, they adopt an affected Southern accent. No one bats an eye. That practice is totally acceptable and, while not racism, is negatively categorizing an entire group of people based on some arbitrary trait (the irony of which is always lost on those enlightened Northern audiences).


These progressive Northerners are in such denial about race relations that to even mentally picture a racist they have to metaphorically travel to Alabama—as if New York, Boston, and Philadelphia are paradises of racial harmony.


Is there a city in the former Confederate states 1/10th as racially segregated as Chicago?


Mention has also been made of the damaging legacy of streets in The South named after Confederate generals. There are two streets in Midtown Manhattan named after people: Madison and Columbus. Madison was a slave owner and Columbus practically invented the North American slave trade. Is that legacy different because smarter people use those streets?


Racism is not unique to the South, and we shouldnŐt focus on ŇSouthern racism,Ó nor should we refight the Civil War as a necessary prequel to every discussion on race relations. There are already no Confederate flags flying in The North, and thatŐs solved precisely nothing. In his should-be-required-reading autobiography, Malcolm X said it best:

ŇThe North's liberals have been for so long pointing accusing fingers at the South and getting away with it that they have fits when they are exposed as the world's worst hypocrites. I believe my own life mirrors this hypocrisy. I know nothing about the South. I am a creation of the Northern white man and of his hypocritical attitude toward the Negro.Ó


I keep hearing people saying that the Confederate flag has no relevancy other than as a symbol of racism. I think that point would be helped by more evidence the hostilities are really over. It seems the black-white divide isnŐt the only rift in this country that needs bridging.


Personally, I think it would be progress to phase out the Confederate flag. IsnŐt every flag inherently divisive and exclusionary? Has any flag in history ever meant anything more than Ňus not them?Ó If you bothered to apply the same standard to every flag, thereŐd be a lot of empty flag poles out there. But, of course, you wonŐt do that. YouŐre a child.