To quote that radical leftist, Richard Nixon, “Let me make one thing perfectly clear.” I am a card carrying liberal, though this week perhaps I have misplaced my card. I say that because I don’t agree with the current nuttiness over banning the sale of the Confederate Flag. Bare with me here because I am going to try to make my case, all the while bringing it back to being married to a Filipina, which ought to be quite a stretch.
I have been thinking about this for the week or two the issue’s been raging, and finally knew I had to speak out when yesterday TV Land canceled reruns of The Dukes of Hazzard because the Duke boys’ iconic car, The General Lee, had a Confederate flag painted on the roof. I mean the show has been out of production for 35 freaking years. It’s been in daily reruns for that entire time. It never got axed despite some logical reasons that it ought to have been: namely, that it was one of the dumbest shows ever to grace the airways; because it’s villain was actually named (I kid you not) Boss Hogg; and because the show’s hottie, Catherine Bach, is now as old and wrinkled as – well me. The corpse, on life support for 35 years, finally had its plugged pulled based on a paint job.
The corpse, on life support for 35 years, finally had its plugged pulled based on a paint job.
For godsakes, Mattel pulled The General Lee toys off the shelves. Pretty impressive that a toy based on a show on the air when the kids’ grandparents were young is still a hot seller. Lot of racist kids out there, I suppose.
Now, I have no love for the South, whether of the modern or good old boy variety. Frankly I’ve only been there a few times. The first time was when I was in college. We drove to Miami on spring break, a right of passage taken by most east coast college students at least once. It was the 70s and long haired and bearded, a car full of us arrived at the Florida state border where we stopped at an inspection station.
I was driving. The guy in the booth gave me a long look. “Where you boys from?” he drawled.
“New York,” I answered brightly.
Welcome to the South.
I just tell this story to make the point that I have no innate love for that part of the country. I am sure as hell not dying to re-visit South Beach or check out where Forrest Gump grew up in Alabama. I have a very good friend with property 40 miles outside of Tampa that he intends to retire on. He was actually nice enough to wonder whether I would like to retire there as well. Now, as I say he’s a great guy, so I don’t dare tell him the truth; that I would rather retire six feet underground than outside of Tampa.
But that doesn’t mean I’m in favor of banning the Confederate flag.
My reasons aren’t that complicated and have nothing to do with the First Amendment. If people want to get around that pesky Bill of Rights or even repeal the amendment, what do I care. I am old and cranky and will say what I feel like saying anyway.
Frankly, this flag crap is just a substitute for what we (and I definitely include me in this) would really like to do – take away the guns, not the flags. Sounds like a new slogan for the NRA: “Give up your flags, not your guns.” Because that’s the real issue. We can’t get the guns that actually killed those 9 people in that Southern black church. So let’s feel good, instead of impotent, by getting the flag, or in the case of the Dukes, the car.
I am sure that some people who know me might find my stance a bit strange. As a Jew, born post-WW2, wouldn’t I be offended by someone flying a Swastika, you might ask? Nope. I would be happy to have every anti-Semite fly such a banner. It’s no different from holding your hand up when the teacher asks, “Are you an idiot?”
You all know the story of Passover, right? Ok, maybe not. Each Jew in Egypt marked his door so that the Angel of Death would – you guessed it – pass over that house and kill only the Egyptian first born. Hey, it’s not called the Old Testament for nothing.
BTW, don’t get me wrong. I am not speculating that every Southerner that owns a Confederate Flag is a racist. On the contrary, my guess is that Daisy Duke, lying on top of the General Lee in the above picture, was an equal opportunity gal.
But let’s assume for the sake of argument that every cracker that owns a Confederate flag is a dyed in the wool racist. Good. Now we know who they all are.
I simply don’t understand the basic idea here. Do we actually believe that if you get rid of the symbol or ban the utterance of certain words that you ban the thought? Or more importantly if you could in some magical way ban the thought, would you prevent the horrific actions based on that thought? Hmmm…perhaps you can – it certainly worked in 1984 and Brave New World. OK, on 2nd thought maybe it didn’t.
I am on a few too many forums and you would be amazed at how many racists and anti-Semites there are, who speak matter of factly about their views on blacks, Jews, gays and every other group. They do that because, morons that they are, they believe that their anonymous user name, Lynchemall, makes them – well, anonymous. Apparently they haven’t heard of IP addresses.
So by all means get on the Internet and spit our your views or fly the Confederate flag and hang Hitler’s portrait in your living room. Next time the Angel of Death comes, she won’t be passing over your place.
Part of this debate is our innate notion that people act rationally. Many don’t. There’s a great scene in Schindler’s List where the women are in their barracks discussing the rumor that Jews are being sent to camps and gassed. The women refuse to believe it. One woman says that it makes no sense since Jews are essential workers for the German war effort. “You don’t kill your workforce.” This is the way a rational person thinks. But hatred and murder are not rational.
So one irrational person thinks he can change the world by killing black people. The other irrational person thinks he can change the world by banning the first guy’s flag. And BTW, there are millions of people living today who still do not believe the Holocaust even happened because – it sounds so irrational.
So how does this all relate to the Philippines and Filipina wives? I have written about this before. Filipinos aren’t politically correct in the way that we are. If you ask the average Filipina what she thinks of say, Japanese and Koreans, she will probably tell you in no uncertain terms that she doesn’t much like them. The Japanese occupied the Philippines during WW2 and even though Janet and her peers barely know what WW2 was they know what the Japanese did and don’t like them.
And Korean tourists? Don’t get a Filipina started on them.
When Janet arrived here two years ago I was sometimes shocked, though frankly admired, her unvarnished opinions. But it scared me. I encouraged her to be careful about what she shared and with whom and tried to explain the sensitivities of some Americans. In those two years she hasn’t had any problems and she doesn’t censor herself. I am not sure how she gets away with it. She tells her co-workers directly when their work efforts leave something to be desired. OK, she does the same thing to her husband. The co-workers still like her; the husband still loves her.
What we in the West call prejudice or discrimination exists and is open and above board in the Philippines. Go into Ayala Mall and see how many clerks you find over 30; none. And it’s completely legal. Same with flight attendants. Janet says that in the Philippines, “These people with things in their nose who look like a goat cannot get hired in food service. Filipinos don’t want them serving food.” So, many forms of prejudice are accepted in the Philippines. I have mixed feelings about it but frankly, when I want a Coke on a flight this is a pretty nice thing.
BTW, Janet has become well aware that there are Americans who don’t like Filipinos or Asians in general. And there are certainly Americans who may judge her based on assumptions they make about our age difference. She has no problem with it, believing that people have the right to their own opinions, as long as they’re respectful to her personally (and God help them if they’re not – lol! ).
Maybe there’s something to this tell the truth business.
But just in case the truthful communication between groups doesn’t work – let’s stop giving everyone guns.
P.S. Let me be clear once more that while I have nothing against the existence of the Confederate flag, I am against it being flown at a State House, which is supposed to represent all people.
PPS. I just noticed that golfer Bubba Watson, who owns one of the original General Lees is going to paint over the Confederate Flag. I guess this genius, who paid $110,000 for the car a few years ago, didn’t notice the offensive flag covering the car’s roof when he worshipped it on TV or when he bought it. Apparently there is a reason he’s called Bubba 🙂