June 20, 2015

Why we shouldn’t be so fast to ban the Confederate Flag.

South Carolina’s Confederate flag will be lowered Friday. It’s only a symbol, but symbols are powerful.

“Removing this symbol of our nation’s racist past is an important step towards equality and civil rights in America. The flag may soon no longer fly at the State Capitol, but there is still unfinished business in confronting and acting on the inequalities that still exist in our country. We can’t hide from the hard truths about race and justice. We must do everything in our power to have the courage to name them and change them.” ~ Hillary Clinton

One of the three nay votes:

“Our governor called us in to deal with the flag that sits out front. Let’s deal with the nation of sin that we face today. We talk about abortion but this gay marriage thing, I believe we will be one nation gone under. Like President Reagan said ‘If we’re not one nation under God, we will be one nation gone under.’ And to sanctify deviant behavior from five judges. It’s time for us to make our stand. It’s time to make our stand and we’re not doing it. We can rally together and talk about a flag all we want but the Devil is taking control of this land and we’re not stopping him.”

Bright also called the White House with rainbow lights was “lit up in the abomination colors.”


Breaking News!: Members of the South Carolina Senate have voted 37-3 to remove the Confederate battle flag from the Statehouse grounds. Click here for more.


Joe Rogan on The Dukes of Hazzard being taken off air due to the confederate flag:

confederate flag

I agree with hating PC and its uptight un-fun influence in America. I see folks so uptight about being kind they can’t communicate. This girl (yes, a young lady) was the opposite: happy to talk about the issues of race in yoga land.

I do think that the flag was chosen in the 1950s or 60s as Civil Rights gained steam to represent a white, non-black way of life—and that this decision is an example of the free market at work. A business has decided it’s not good business. So. I love the show. Heck, my name is Waylon, I’m half-named after Waylon Jennings, who sang the song. I loved the show as a little kid—I tried to jump into cars through the window (and luckily, clumsily succeeded).

But: I do think that if a TV show were showing the Nazi flag in a fun light, that wouldn’t pass muster. So. Who knows. It’s a cultural debate worth thinking about. Read my original article below, re the importance of free speech—you know, the fundamental right to be offensive in America.


confederate flag banning free speech racism

This is an important, if symbolic discussion. I and most folks do feel it has not place in government-sanctioned taxpayer-supported buildings. But, our country is about free speech. You know that quote: I may disagree with you, but I’ll defend your right to be wrong to the death? 

News: South Carolina State Rep. will introduce bill to remove Confederate flag (msnbc.com)

NY Times: Confederate Flags and Institutional Racism By CHARLES M. BLOW “Taking down symbols is well and good. But we are focusing on the 10 percent of the iceberg above the water and not the 90 percent below.”

NY Times: What about the gun? “The sudden abandonment of the Confederate flag by Southern politicians has raised the question of whether the Charleston gun massacre of nine churchgoers might also prompt action on gun safety. The early answer is don’t count on it.”

I just got sent an online petition from a friend asking me to sign in support of banning the Confederate flag from flying above all government buildings.

I’m happy to sign that petition. But it’s a fine line.

We are a nation riddled with faults and prejudices but founded on time-tested ideals, including freedom of speech. As one wise man said,

I may hate what you believe, but I will fight to the death to defend your right to believe it.

I personally, however, do feel that it’s a no-brainer from allowing the Confederate flag to have state-sanctioned display. So I’d support this: we should not be condoning such a display.

The Confederate flag isn’t even the original flag of the Confederacy. It’s worse. It’s a battle flag celebrating sedition and treachery and, to some, prejudice.

Confederate Battle Flag was first flown above the South Carolina State House in 1962 in defiance of the Civil Rights Movement.” (nytimes.com

Taking this flag down from government buildings won’t fix our problems.

As a friend said, not wholly tongue-in-cheek:

“I’ve got mixed feelings about this. On one hand, it’s a symbol of treason, racism, and failure, but it also makes it easier to tell who the assholes are.”

This flag of secession and slavery and war should not be allowed to fly in an honorary and establishment context. On that we are heartily agreed. To see a list of the evils held up by the Confederacy, see the images here:

View post on imgur.com

Taking this flag down from government buildings won’t fix our problems. It doesn’t go far enough.

Taking this flag down doesn’t go far enough.

But! Remember: our work is harder than banning a flag. This is a grave social issue that requires real ongoing work, not just online petitions and fickle news coverage that fades in a week’s time.

Our real work is to create openness, peace and dialogue, with a sense of tenderness, honesty and even delight and humor—not just perpetuate us vs. them aggression.

We have to do the hard work as a nation to get rid of prejudice.

“As 17th century Jewish philosopher Spinoza puts it in his Theologico-Political Treatise, men are bound by nature to think what they think, and unless you convince them through philosophical inquiry and discussion, they will keep thinking that their ideas are true, repress it as you may. So banning such a flag display is not useful at all.”

Can we ban homophobia?

No. But we can and must sanction marriage and equal rights for the LGBT community.

Can we ban racism? No.

But we should ban symbols of hate and any sign of inequality, such as how the laws are applied to our African-American citizens and how our prison system is wildly unequal.

Can we ban sexism? No, but we must work to make sure women enjoy equal pay, equal right and access to health care, voting, and safety of person, among other ongoing issues.

But again, as Buddhist teacher Trungpa Rinpoche reminds us, aggression is the problem. Prejudice or ignorance is the problem. Greed is the problem. Those are the three root poisons.

We must work to uproot them through meditation, through service, through non-violent activism—and through dialogue that does not posit any fundamental enemy.

“It is aggression which perpetuates aggression.” ~ Allen Ginsberg

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.


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