When I was fourteen or fifteen, which would put it about 1969-70, my family drove South, I think we still lived in New York at the time, to visit family friends in Florida. Route 95 wasn't complete yet or at least wasn't the route we took, so we were on back roads with some commercial activity. Somewhere in the middle of the state where, coincidentally, I am now I saw a billboard. It had a picture of a smiling man in a tall white pointed hood and a white robe. The billboard said:

You are in the heart of Klan country
Welcome to North Carolina

Not the sort of billboard you forget. 

I was a Northern White Jewish kid. The Klan isn't known for liking Jews, or Northerners for that matter, but it's a whole lot better known for not liking Blacks. The billboard was chilling. It said to me: "You may think you're safe because you're in America but you can't really count on that. People run this neighborhood who don't like you and others you care about because of what you are rather than what you actually do." 

A few years later I was watching a miniseries on television. I think it was Winds of War, based on the Herman Wouk book. There was a scene that took place in about 1936 where a German ocean liner docked in New York. Being as it was portraying 1936, the ship flew a Nazi flag. Here I was, about thirty years after the war, and the sight of that flag in New York made my blood run cold, knowing that if someone like me walked onto that boat and it pulled out of the harbor, that was it; they could do whatever they felt like to me with no consequences. They weren't mass murdering Jews yet but they had started a whole lot of restrictions; Jews were by then certainly a targeted population. That the Nazis were once welcome in the United States was such an odd and awful realization, particularly in the city my family is from.

To Black people, the Confederate flag might as well be a Klan billboard. The message is the same. It isn't to me, but I have the luxury in this case of being White. To them, the billboard says "Welcome to the South, where we view your subjugation as sacred." 

I'm not saying something here about the South in general. I'm saying something about what the flag says, particularly when it's used in an official capacity, like over a statehouse. 

This is really pretty simple: You don't terrorize a large portion of your population for the sake of glorifying a rebellion a century and a half ago. Not on a government building. The last thing we want to say is that the people who work in this government building do not dispense equal justice. What makes it worse is what the rebellion was about. If you read what Southern leaders said during the era leading up to the attack on Ft. Sumter, they did not talk about states' rights; they talked explicitly about preserving slavery.

We threw a depiction of the Ten Commandments out of a statehouse because we didn't want those who were not Jewish or Christian to feel like that, and the Ten Commandments is certainly not a document promoting oppression. The flag stands for oppression. It's why the war was fought and it's absolutely why the flag was re-flown in 1962. 

Sure, the flag stands for other things, too. The flag is the primary symbol of a region with a very strong identity, strong enough to be stereotyped a whole lot, and I certainly understand wanting to identify with one's group. Unfortunately, that's not what the flag over the statehouse is about, particularly given that it was put back up in 1962 in defiance of the civil rights movement. It is simultaneously a call to rebel against one's country, treason, and a tool of intimidation. 

We'd never expect anyone to have to look at Klan billboards all the time, particularly located on the grounds of government buildings.

And yet, up to now, we've expected the equivalent of that. 

We shouldn't. And I'm thrilled that a whole lot of people have suddenly realized that. 

Views: 240

Comment by Rosigami on June 28, 2015 at 1:10am

Until this week I had no idea the Confederate flag had been allowed to fly in this manner at all. I was shocked. I guess I don't understand how it was even allowed in 1962 because I don't see it as a "freedom of speech" issue. At the very least, it represents a political entity that ceased to exist when the Civil War ended. As an historical item in a museum, ok sure, but the ideas it stands for are not acceptable in a US Government venue. How did they get away with it for the past 53 years?  

Comment by Arthur James on June 28, 2015 at 4:04am

`

I recall a story about theft...

A baker and baker picked up

those heavy yard ornaments.

It doted? Stole hundred and

sold at porn shops and up

on Capital Hades. They both

split profits and bought some

clean Underpants. Thankfully,

We get wed and the Poor Virgin

Don't Have To Show Red Stained

Hymen Bed Sheets. Or, She gets

Stoned? History is always very

Totally Absurd. Why try and

Figure? We'd Go Bonkers.

`,'

I use to have a old 48-

Star American Flag.

One Day Farmers

Flew it Upside

Down to DC's

Dupont Circle

Farmers Market.

On Way Home

Cops Stopped.

Cops Looked a

Wee bit Stoned.

`,'

Comment by Arthur James on June 28, 2015 at 4:07am

`

I get unfocused

and arrive back

to Earth - The

Heavy Statues

were a Back

Man with a

Lit Lantern.

`

H Looking For

a Honest Man?

Moan? Woe a

Lovable kind

Woman to

visit Home?

`,'

Comment by alsoknownas on June 28, 2015 at 6:41am

koshersalaami.

Yes those are the correct reasons.

I saw a big, shiny pickup yesterday flying a large American flag on a pole from the left rear of the bed and an equal size Confederate flag from the right rear.

In the Pacific NW.

It's a start, but I'm certain it's just that.

Art,

For cripes sake........

Comment by Arthur James on June 28, 2015 at 6:48am

`

... fog O for fishy 

CRAP BOTTOM a

FISH BASE LOWLY

FEEDER? okay - I 

saw it. Read Gene

WEINGARTEN- huh?

`

Washington Post

Sunday Magazine:

`

The Why? chromosome

`

VANITY FAIR - don't call

me Gene - call me? O? 

`

Caitlyn -

We sane?

or a wee
 bit so so

DERANGED?

`

` , '

`

Comment by JMac1949 Today on June 28, 2015 at 7:09am

Except for the grammatical error in the headline, I'm in complete agreement. Racism in America has never been exclusive to the south. A little known fact in the late 1920's during the first resurgence of the KKK, my home state of Indiana had more registered members of the Klan than any other state in the USA:

R&L ;-D

Comment by nerd cred on June 28, 2015 at 7:41am
That billboard, even your memory of it, is chilling. We had plenty of Klan even way up here but that gives the difference some striking perspective.
Yesterday morning I woke to the awesome news of the woman climber cutting the SC flag down. She & her compatriots were arrested, of course. The flag is back flying today. I haven't heard if its liberators is still jailed.
Haley may be able to read the political winds but that shouldn't be confused with courage. I understand legislative action is required to finally remove the damn thing but that doesn't require its rapid return. I'm holding on to "wait and see."
Comment by Jonathan Wolfman on June 28, 2015 at 8:05am

Lotsa reasons to take it down. I'll celebrate it, tho, when every one of them and the statures are in pieces.

Comment by koshersalaami on June 28, 2015 at 9:00am
Grammatical error? I'm telling people why to take the flag down.

Of course racism isn't exclusive to the South, but flying the Confederate flag on public property is.

I don't deny Haley her due process. That's her job. I don't expect her to exceed her authority. She has done what she can do. Now we hold South Carolina legislators responsible.
Comment by Arthur James on June 28, 2015 at 10:06am

`

Soon?

The Ford &

GM Motor

Company

Pull the

1948

Studabaker

Off Showroom

Floors? I had a

Photo of 1948

Farm 2-Axle

Red Side Racks

& Grime Metal

Green Rolled

Frame on that

Closed Salon

Web. It might

still be on the

Site? 

American Free

Press?

Pacific Free

Press?

`

I was invited by

Chris Floyd to

Share Thoughts.

Then. all Hell

BROKE LOOSE

when I Visited

Salon & Open?

Now Here Too?

`

someone in the

rear - said Glenn

Greenwald... No

Like you? okay

`

bebop-o

goat gouda blueberry

GoodCelery 

and i used clowsence

after It got GOOFY.

`

vent

therapy

be well

`,

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