Monday, July 6, 2015

Beats All You Never Saw

In an action that would have seen them run out on a rail in South Carolina 20 years ago, 37 state senators took a stand to finally remove the Confederate flag from the statehouse grounds. There's still some work to be done, but it looks like it's coming down.

A few weeks ago, I made an argument that the South hadn't protected its brand in regards to the Battle Flag of Northern Virginia (i.e., letting racists hijack it). I stand by that argument. I also didn't expect all the site traffic as a result of that post. I hope my six regular readers didn't mind the company.

But in the aftermath of the Mother Emanuel AME shootings and our state's push to remove the flag, the reaction by other people across the country has been a bit zealous. Wal-Mart, eBay, Sears, and Amazon all pulled Confederate flag merchandise from their shelves. The Confederate flags were removed from Fort Sumter, which, for those of you who slept through history class, was where South Carolina gave 'Murica a "It's not us, it's you" break-up that started the Civil War.

And then TV Land pulled the Dukes of Hazzard reruns. Now wait just a Waylon Jennings damn minute here.

For any kid who grew up in the 80s, this TV show was a holy grail to our childhood. My parents' first recordings of my voice were, "Dukes of Hazzard... mash da button." Which is Southern toddler speak for turn on the TV and lemme see the General Lee. I got in a fight with a kid at recess during preschool because we both wanted to be Bo Duke as we turned a jungle gym into the General Lee (I'm sorry. Tom Wopat, I really am). Your cool kid status in elementary school broke down whether or not you had a Dukes of Hazzard or Knight Rider lunchbox.

So this is where longtime fans of the show lost our cool. Anyone who has seen the show knows there was nothing racist or sinister about how the Duke boys painted their prized race car. It was a family show. Bo and Luke weren't attending any Klan rallies at night. Daisy wasn't spitting on black kids as they integrated schools. Uncle Jesse didn't lynch African Americans who tried to vote back in the day. Sheriff Roscoe wasn't spraying protesters with water cannons at the Hazzard County line.

I mean, I'm sure Boss Hogg did a little gerrymandering when he got the chance, but other than that, it was innocent. The Duke boys were never meanin' no harm. Waylon told us so in the song.

But after hearing the news of TV Land's decision, I had to put emotion aside for a minute and think about it from a 'Murican perspective:

There's nothing wrong with what they did. Why? Because they're a private entity that can make this business decision. It's not infringing on our rights. It's not restricting the First Amendment. It's not our society losing its mind, as some opponents declared. It's a business making a decision that they feel is best in light of current events. We played with our General Lee Matchbox cars back in the day without seeing the Confederate flag on the roof as anything sinister. But now that I've grown up and stopped playing with toy cars for about two years now, I can look at it in a different light.

So no, I don't overall agree with TV Land's decision. But I understand and respect it. Same with Wal-Mart, et al. I also understand any private entity that still wants to sell or use the flag for whatever they choose. That's one of the beautiful freedoms we have in this nation. That's part of what our nation has stood for since creation. And I'm not sure that's a mission statement that the Confederate movement would have agreed with when the states seceded.

Fort Sumter, though? The flag is still part of history, and it has its place at such a historical locale.

So, to sum up this long piece: The flag has no place intermingling with our state or local governments. It has no belonging there, and yes, it now represents messages of hate and oppression. But any private individual or corporation that wants to support or do away with the flag has every right, and their decision won't negatively affect our lives in any way.

But if that still ruffles your feathers, and you still think the flag needs to fly proudly on the statehouse or you're furious that a private entity wants to distance itself from the flag, you may want to consider who is on your team.

Just a suggestion.

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