Tuesday, June 23, 2015

[No] Fun [at all] With Flags

Take a look at this and what do you see?

I see a problem. I didn’t even want to download this image onto my computer so I could put it on my blog, lest those tracking my activities online take my downloading as a sign that I’m a Nazi.

And now I’ve gone a step further and displayed it on my blog. I must certainly be a Nazi.

I’m not. And I really want to alter that flag as it appears in this entry so it says “I am not a Nazi” across it so I can’t be accused of being, well, a Nazi.

This flag is a potent symbol of hatred, intimidation, murder, and misery. My dad saw it flying over his native Netherlands during World War II and rejoiced when it finally disappeared. Members of his family hid Jews from the Nazis – one even stole a German bicycle but buried it until after the war because he was afraid if he were seen with it, he’d be killed. Seeing that Nazi swastika flag everywhere quickly meant knowing there were bad, bad guys about. I know full well what it means.
And I know in other contexts, the swastika – taken out of the red flag with the white circle and the 45-degree twist context – is a good luck symbol for many across the world. I hope those who see it as a symbol of good luck recognize that in other contexts, it is NOT a symbol of good luck, but of something far more sinister.

Just to be clear: In the context seen here, it ain’t here for good luck.

So take a look at this and what do you see?

I’ve got to admit, I was also hesitant to download this image onto my computer, and to display it here. Because it’s as potent a symbol of hatred and fear as is the Nazi swastika flag.

Yes, it is. Don’t bring up heritage, or southern pride. The context flag-wavers wish to place this flag in where it is harmless is as nonexistent as the context for the swastika is broad.

This was Gen. Lee’s battle flag. The battle flag of Virginia during the Civil War. The battle flag of the Army of Tennessee. Flown by armies, generals, states and a nation that divided itself from another because it wanted to keep its slaves.

It’s been adopted by the KKK and other groups whose sole existence is based on racial hate. It was designed by William Tappan Thompson, who had not-so-nice things to say about non-white people.

When you have residents of your city, your state, who recognize the symbol for what it is, it’s time to take it down. It’s not a question of local history, or states’ rights. It’s an issue of the state maintaining a symbol of institutionalized racism. Getting rid of the flag won’t make racism go away, but it’s a step in the right direction.

This flag does not belong anywhere but in textbooks and museums – certainly not on display at the South Carolina statehouse, nor on the state flag of Mississippi, before or after the shootings in Charleston. It’s a symbol of hate, fear, and intimidation folks, not pride or heritage. Take it down.

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