I don’t usually write on hot topics. I keep my content light and stupid, full of frivolity and devoid of substance, just like me. But I’ve seen a lot of disparate opinions on the issue of Mississippi’s state flag. If you elect to read this, know now that I don’t care about Mississippi’s flag. Regardless of what people think the flag represents, it’s just a flag to me; a rectangular swath of varicoloured fabric displaying different shapes. I don’t own any state flags; I don’t have any flags on my car; I don’t have any shirts or caps with flags; not even the American flag. It doesn’t mean I’m anti-American. It just means that I’m not obsessed with flags. I can’t use a flag to surf the web, can’t ride a flag from one place to another, can’t perform any music on a flag, and can’t eat a flag; so a flag has no practical purpose in my mostly utilitarian life.
Also, I don’t find the MS flag offensive because I choose not to be offended. Being offended is a choice. However, I do understand the feelings of folks who see some flags as symbols of oppression.
Because they are.
But let’s carry this a little further.
I’ll preface this with an anecdote I heard during a lecture on the Third Reich:
A man returns to his old college to attend his daughter’s graduation. During the festivities, he runs into his old history professor. The professor is delighted to see him. The man says to the professor, “My daughter was in your course this year. She enjoyed it as much as I did 25 years ago. But you know, I couldn’t help noticing that the questions on her final exam are the same questions that you asked us 25 years ago.”
The professor smiles and says, “Yes, but the answers have changed”.
I said that to say this. Mississippi went through a similar, though much milder, issue with its state flag a few years ago. There was a statewide vote to determine whether or not to retain the old flag. The folks of MS voted overwhelmingly to keep the old flag.
But now, a few years later, folks are seeing things differently. The answers have changed. If folks want to change these flags, I’m fine with that. I care not one whit. Changing these flags shows that folks are finally waking up and making their voices heard.
However, folks are still not yet fully awake. Racism and oppression still abound. So any new flag you adopt will still be representing the current oppression. You’re changing one colourful symbol of oppression for another. All you’re doing is making a fashion statement (while still paying the same fashion designers).
Fun fact: ALL national and state flags are symbols of oppression. I don’t see how folks can protest the Mississippi flag while embracing the American flag. America is even now oppressing people of other nationalities and races, here and abroad. Years ago the United States Supreme Court (represented by the American flag) ruled unanimously that the Native Americans (i.e., not white), did not have a constitutional right to their own land because they weren’t Christian (unconstitutional). This, from a nation founded on religious freedom.
And I shouldn’t have to remind you that after Black people won the right to vote, White Establishment devised ways to strip them of that right, like convicting them of felonies and telling them they could no longer vote because they were convicted felons (unconstitutional), and keeping them in prison as long as possible and not allowing them to vote by absentee ballot (also unconstitutional); not to mention making them pay taxes while still not having any rights (unconstitutional).
This is difficult to write because I’m sure a bunch of folks will accuse me of being anti-American or fascist or any other bad sounding name for which they don’t really know the meaning.
But if you truly are halfway literate, you’ll have no choice but to admit that nothing I’ve said is “against” America or South Carolina or Mississippi or anybody else. I’m just spouting facts. If my documenting these facts makes you angry, then you also might be part of the problem.
All the street gangs have their own ways of identifying themselves; colours, clothing, etc. All the Crips, Bloods, BGDs, Vice Lords, Four Corner Hustlers, etc. can tell each other apart from the colours and symbols they sport. A blue or red bandana is nothing more than a flag representing a nation in microcosm.
In application, it’s no different than proud Americans sporting Old Glory on their shirts.
Yet one difference I see is that the street gangs are very unified; each gang looks out for its members. They all contribute to each other’s well-being. Kinda like Christ and his disciples.
America? Not so much.
What I’m saying is folks need to stop being “offended” with “symbols of oppression” and focus their vitriol on the rulers who make the laws that enable the oppression. And if you’re being oppressed right now, then you need to be looking hard at the folks currently in office. They may not have passed the outdated laws that are oppressing, but if they’re not actively changing those laws, then they’re part of the problem. And yes, if you’re not vehemently trying to get them out of office, then you’re also part of the problem.
Oppression isn’t always noticeable. It can be quite subtile, such that many people aren’t even aware they’re being oppressed. The oppressors love nothing more than for those they are oppressing to be unaware of it.
So, as you go back to your newsfeed, ask yourself what rights do others have that you don’t, or what rights do you enjoy that others don’t. If you find someone enjoying a right you don’t have, ask why. Keep asking until you get answers. Then the next steps should be obvious.
May the Force be with you.