A number of actions have been taken recently to remove the Confederate flag from virtually every aspect of the historical account of the Civil War era. This isn’t an issue for many but I think we’re missing a much bigger picture than is presented. It’s not just Confederate history…its American history that is slowly being dismantled in the name of decency. Granted, the flag and symbols of the south during that period are perceived as racist and shunned from public display. The “ugly truth” of the matter is that history can’t be voided simply because someone disagrees with it.
Redesign of the Georgia flag was ordered by, then, Gov. Barnes in 2001 as the result of Black business leaders’ and civic organizations’ threats in late 2000 to boycott events including the NCAA tournament to be held in Atlanta the following year. In the interest of the estimated $50 million dollar anticipated benefit to the state’s economy, the governor had to concede.
There is currently an on-going battle over the state issued specialty license plate that bears an emblem of the Confederate flag in the wake of the June 17th South Carolina church shooting that claimed the lives of nine Blacks. It is unfortunate the gross distortion of something intended to simply establish a political position, like the rebel flag, now symbolizes pure hatred.
Georgia law has required a special license plate for the Sons of Confederate Veterans for more than a decade with proceeds benefiting the group. Dan Coleman, spokesman for the Georgia division of the Sons of the Confederacy, stated it is a means ancestors of Confederate soldiers honor those who fought in the Civil War.
Understandable, this period is a dark era in America’s history when our country was enthralled in the grips of slavery. The problem, we often fail to see history simply as the recorded past; no matter how ugly a period represented it is still the past; an essential evil in the growth process. Though things have changed, the shadows of racism and bigotry still loom at the raw edges of society and this is the type darkness the “good people” in our country would sooner forget but it’s an inherent part of what has made The United States a diverse nation. Racism is an intricately woven crimson thread running through the bleach-white fabric of this country just as life-sustaining plasma flows through the veins of every blue-blooded American. I can’t grasp why anybody who wants to be “viewed as a good person” prefers to dismiss that part of history.
Professor Arthur Marwick of The Open University provides: “Historians do not, as too many of my colleagues keep mindlessly repeating, “reconstruct” the past. What historians do is produce knowledge about the past, or, with respect to each individual, fallible historian, produce contributions to knowledge about the past. Thus the best and most concise definition of history is: The bodies of knowledge about the past produced by historians, together with everything that is involved in the production, communication of, and teaching about that knowledge.”
Instead of historical lessons directing people to a better future, many choose to wallow in the filthy muck of the past. We refuse to become clean of the infectious attitudes keeping us psychologically and racially trapped in the dark ages. Unfortunately, these poisons represent vital pieces of a whole we assert is the greatest country in the world. George Santayana stated: “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” As opposed to being content to remember, redirect, and not repeat those behaviors we want to revisit history and rewrite it.
Another ugly truth lies in the answer to a question Blacks never pose though blaming Caucasians for enslaving our people: How does a man sail thousands of miles to a strange country, capture hundreds of natives and commit them to a life of bondage? What many of us don’t want or don’t care to know is the fact that warring tribes in Africa supplied a lucrative market selling conquered enemies into slavery. So, we were guilty of trading our own people into captivity; engaging in a practice facilitating the structural backbone of America. That is a black eye (no pun intended) on the face of our culture, proving we all have skeletons tucked away in our closets.
Our country was founded on principals designed to warrant specific freedoms in the quest for a better nation. It is disheartening to realize continued development of the U.S. has been impeded by its own ugly past. History is a decisive element in our future but only if we have the good sense God gave us to preserve and learn from it, not remove it. I could be wrong but it’s just something to consider…