On being proven wrong, hopefully
by aaron david
In the comments of Mike Dwyer’s post on the confederate flag, I made clear my thoughts on trying to get that flag taken down. While I never meant to say that it shouldn’t come down, I did say that I felt that trying to get it taken down was a hill that, right or wrong, would be one that the left would die on. And by that I mean a great waste of political energy would be expended for no gain. That it would simply harden the resolve of those who place power in that object, both as a symbol of racism and a symbol of heritage.
In the time since writing those comments I backed away from commenting anymore in the thread as I felt that only poison would come of more talk on it. In that time I gave myself room to look around at what other people were thinking about this, and I am glad to see that I could be wrong about this.
‘“I think a governor’s job should be one to bring people together, not to divide them, and I think the Confederate battle flag is clearly one of those that divides people,” Perry said Saturday in an interview with RealClearPolitics. Yes, that Rick Perry, the Governor of Texas and Presidential hopeful.
Perry, in Washington, D.C., Saturday for the conservative Faith and Freedom Coalition conference, stopped short of that stance, saying, “I think it’s up to the people of South Carolina.” But he made a point of adding: “The people of the state of Texas, we dealt with those issues.”
This was a reference to a decision made by the Texas Motor Vehicles Board to reject a proposal by the Sons of Confederate Veterans for specialty license plates featuring the Confederate flag. Perry, who was then governor, supported the decision.
“We don’t need to be scraping old wounds,” he said at the time.
If he was the only person saying this, I wouldn’t be changing my mind on the futility of this, but upon reading the article further, more voices were speaking out:
South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, another Republican candidate for president, told CNN on Friday that “it is time for the people of South Carolina to revisit that decision.”[The Confederate flag was raised at the state capitol building in Columbia, S.C., by former South Carolina governor Fritz Hollings in 1962]
“But this is part of who we are,” Graham added.
Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, tweeted Saturday: “Take down the Confederate Flag at the SC Capitol. To many, it is a symbol of racial hatred. Remove it now to honor Charleston victims.”
Perry and Graham are both politicians who have seriously stepped in it on racial issues over the years and are people whom I never thought would be coming around on this. And I know that the reasons for this might not be the purest, they might be simple political calculations. But if the political calculation of southern Republicans now includes rethinking that flag, well that means the wind is blowing strong.
I am not from the South and have no attachment to the area other than through my Father-in-law. That flag means nothing to me and is definitely not part of my history. For all intents and purposes I am a fourth generation Californian who was raised in a small coastal college town. A one high school town that was approximately 1% African American, making many of these issues very far away and academic as I was growing up. I am in my forty’s now, with a son of my own. As he goes to college in my hometown he remarks often how white the town is. And while I have many African American coworkers, I never realized how whitewashed my vision was. And that was a vision of this as far away and never ending.
Very rarely are people happy to be proven wrong. And today I am smiling at the thought that I will be.