I’ve tried to ignore the recent Internet controversy surrounding the Confederate flag. It’s the exact same argument as last time and my opinion on the matter hasn’t changed. Flying the Confederate flag is stupid for the exact same reasons flying the United States flag is. But this time the controversy has reached some stupendously stupid levels.
Remember the Dukes of Hazzard? Not the shitty remake but the original show. It started the General Lee and some humans nobody cared about. The General Lee was an orange Dodge Charger that had a Confederate flag pained on the roof (because the show took place in the rural South which is otherwise indistinguishable from the rural North). There was nothing racist about the show. But the powers that be at Warner Brothers has decided to cease production of all toy General Lees. I can’t wait for the next Dukes of Hazzard remake where the General Lee is replaced with the General Sherman, a car with a United States flag painted on the roof.
Toys aren’t the only thing getting pulled. Do you like historical strategy games that strive for accuracy? Too bad! Apple has pulled Civil War strategy games on account of Confederate sides displaying, get this, Confederate flags. I bet people are really going to flip their shit when they find out that there are World War II strategy games that let you play as Germany.
Of course no controversy would be complete without somebody at Slate writing an absolutely idiotic piece. It’s titled The Confederate Flag Doesn’t Belong in a Museum and it’s stupid because the Confederate flag does belong in a museum because that’s exactly what museums exist for. The title is clickbait though because the author feels that the Confederate flag could be put in a museum but only if a mountain of conditions are met:
What might such an exhibit look like? It would need to tell the history behind the flag. It is a symbol of white supremacy, and museums should acknowledge it as such. The designer for the second national flag of the Confederacy described it as a representation of the fight to “maintain the Heaven-ordained supremacy of the white man over the inferior or colored race.” The exhibit should also acknowledge the role the flag played in South Carolina’s past. The flag that’s captured national attention this week came to Columbia in 1962, as a reaction to black people fighting for and winning rights during the civil rights era.
Effective museum interpretation would not stop there. It would address the reoccurring questions surrounding this symbol. Why do people find the flag offensive? Why are other people so attached to the flag? Why do some people who embrace the fullness of Southern pride, including the Confederate flag, not see themselves as racists?
Furthermore, a complete interpretation of the Confederate flag would need to make clear that black people have always resisted white supremacy and fought for the demise of institutional racism.
Why the hell isn’t the United States flag subjected to these same conditions? That flag not only represents slavery, racism, and war but it also represents the almost complete extermination of this country’s indigenous people, dropping nuclear weapons on civilian populations, placing people in concentration camps because of their race, and a whole lot of other really shitty things.
It’s one thing to say the Confederate flag shouldn’t be flown in front of government buildings (but hypocritical if the advocate doesn’t believe the United States flag should also be taken down) but it’s an entirely different thing to attempt to erase it from history. To quote George Santayana, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”