by Alex Symington…….
I would have thought by now nothing would surprise me, but the reaction to my essay last week on guns and racism was an eye-opener for a couple of reasons. Last week I committed the journalistic cardinal sin of writing about TWO subjects at the same time and inadvertently discovered which is more important to the readers. Yes, it is anecdotal, but still troubling.
The less disturbed casual reader does not feel compelled to respond to someone like me and goes about their day unaffected, but the personal firearms fetishist goes bonkers at even a whisper of negative press on the sacred gun. Normally otherwise intelligent coherent individuals lose their minds at the thought of ANY change to the American firearm-free-for-all.
Yet that was only part of my astonishment, the other being the total silence by these very vocal and “informed” gun lovers on the issue of racism and race hate crime in the U.S.A. Not a word, not a peep on the subject. Quiet as a graveyard. The ease with which my countrymen can wax poetic and endlessly on the topic of the second amendment and the sanctity of gun ownership yet are eerily silent and refuse to acknowledge the corrosive racism rampant in our country is so uniquely, well… us.
Having said that, there are some that aren’t so silent on racial hate and they would be the haters. As with the predictable church-of-the-second-amendment stance of offense as defense that always manifests itself (a respectable three or four days after each massacre) as foaming-at-the-mouth doubling down trumpeted by FOX and the NRA; we are now seeing the same irrational doubling down on the legitimacy of the Confederate flag being flown 150 years after the civil war ended. News flash, the Union won. The method of defense-by-offense used by the NRA is now being employed by racists and slavery apologists even going so far as to re-write history.
Our friends at FOX, again predictably, had their favorite British-born-Canadian civil war “expert”; Gavin McInnes explain how the civil war was not fought over slavery, but state’s rights. This isn’t a new revision, but it always has the desired effect of making the proud Confederate flag fans feel better about their history and why the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan’s Pelham, North Carolina, chapter have reserved the Statehouse Grounds in South Carolina for a rally next month.
James Spears, the Great Titan of the chapter, said the group would be rallying to protest, “The Confederate flag being took down for all the wrong reasons. It’s part of white people’s culture.” Yes, obviously Mr. Spears, the Great Titan himself, is all about culture and “state’s rights”. Yeah, keep telling yourselves that. I believe back in 1860 the main “right” in dispute was the ownership of human beings.
Ta-Nehisi Coates sets the record straight in his essay, “What This Cruel War Was Over” by quoting the leadership of the southern rebellion. There is no gray area, pardon the play on words, in the intent and reasoning of secession by the southern states. A Confederate South Carolina proclaimed,” …A geographical line has been drawn across the Union, and all the States north of that line have united in the election of a man to the high office of President of the United States, whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery.”
Mississippi reasoned, “Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery—the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth. There was no choice left us but submission to the mandates of abolition, or a dissolution of the Union, whose principles had been subverted to work out our ruin…”
One more from our friends in Texas,”… the servitude of the African race, as existing in these States, is mutually beneficial to both bond and free, and is abundantly authorized and justified by the experience of mankind, and the revealed will of the Almighty Creator, as recognized by all Christian nations…”
Coates goes on to debunk any notion that there was ever anything noble in the south’s motivation to secede and maintain the bondage of African slaves and in actuality was to increase land acquisition and enslave millions more. The Confederate wet dream was to expand further south into Mexico and the tropics to corner the market of the two biggest commodities at the time, sugar and cotton. So please spare me the “proud heritage” and “state’s rights” crap.
This is probably the time I should add that racism and hate crimes are not exclusively a southern problem, but a disease that has struck all fifty states. However the south does take the lead in such phenomenon. The Southern Poverty Law Center publishes a “Hate Map” of the US and frequently up-dates it to record currently existing hate groups. It is worth taking a look at. For example, my home state of Florida, the home of Rosewood, boasts fifty different hate filled organizations ranging from the old standard KKK to the more specialized LBGT and Muslim haters. Twenty-eight of the fifty are of the White Supremacist variety with eleven Black Separatist groups ranging from militant Islam to militant Christian to the New Black Panthers.
So you see it would behoove us to start a dialogue on the glaring reality of our Americentric racism and stop ignoring it or pretending it doesn’t exist or hoping it will go away. It’s real, it exists and it won’t just go away. Hate only begets hate and has never solved a damned thing. The Reverend Martin Luther King poetically clarified this when he said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
As the United States of America celebrates it’s 239th year of it’s declaration of independence this weekend please reflect on this; if we expended even half the energy we use to defend guns and excuse racism and put that energy towards an honest and willing effort to solve our deeply ingrained racial divisiveness we might evolve into a truly unified nation worthy of the title “United”. Denial simply prolongs our disease.
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