On Thursday, columnist Lawrence Diggs of Roslyn advised the Gettysburg Police Department to stop displaying the Confederate flag on its uniform patches. Diggs said apologists for the Stars and Bars must engage in “mental gymnastics” to say the flag represents “history” without acknowledging its historic symbolism of slavery and white supremacist movements:
Despite the fact that some people try to blur the inescapable historical truth, the Civil War was mostly about maintaining the right of some people to hold others as slaves. The Confederate flag to both people who are in favor of slavery and those against slavery has the unavoidable stench of the support for this despicable practice.
This connection is not lost on segregationists and “white supremacists” who use it as a symbol for their movements. As Southern historian Gordon Rhea put it, “It is no accident that Confederate symbols have been the mainstay of white supremacist organizations, from the Ku Klux Klan to the skinheads. They did not appropriate the Confederate battle flag simply because it was pretty. They picked it because it was the flag of a nation dedicated to their ideals: ‘that the negro is not equal to the white man.’ ” These groups are known for acts of terrorism, so the Confederate flag symbol also has the taint of terrorism [Lawrence Diggs, “Gettysburg Confederate Police Patches Send Wrong Message,” Aberdeen American News, 2015.07.23].
Among today’s letters to the editor, Brian Jenson of Aberdeen advises Lawrence Diggs to go back to Africa:
Since this Confederate flag is a symbol of slavery and white supremacy, if the flag must go, then all descendants of slaves should be sent back to wherever their parents’ grandparents and great-grandparents came from. If one must go, then both go!
If it wasn’t for the history of this country, there is a lot of them that would have never experienced the liberties that they now enjoy [Brian Jenson, letter to the editor, Aberdeen American News, 2015.07.26].
Shall we take wagers on whether Brian Jenson is voting for Ted Cruz in 2016?
I cannot conceive of the logical steps Mr. Jenson would follow that would allow him to equate the removal of a racist, traitor flag from official public display with the forced deportation of 42 million American citizens. I cannot map the logic that says blacks and other Americans who have fought for liberty should accept as innocuous a flag that represents the denial of liberty, the taking of labor without pay, and the treatment of African Americans as subhuman property.
But that’s the thing: there is no logic in Mr. Jenson’s letter, only ignorance and racism.
Related Reading: Olympic 10K champion Billy Mills visited the Black Hills last week:
In custer, South Dakota we stopped for restroom break. Pat and one granddaughter used a restaurant bathroom (I went in with them) I was asked to use the restroom at the gas station….. One daughter and her son went into a snack shop and the manager called from the back room: “watch them!”
I remember being terrified of white people when my grandpa or dad would take me to custer. Things haven’t changed much! [Billy Mills, Facebook post, 2015.07.25]
What’s it going to take to cure South Dakota, East River and West, of racism?