I never held any fondness for the confederate flag. Until last week. Then, the braying asses of public opinion declared it non grata—not just on flags flying over state capitols, but also in video games, antique shops, and books.
In a flash mob of self-righteousness, the stars and bars began to disappear, like a purged apparatchik posing next to Stalin. Naturally, I started to want one. A flag from Dixie, I mean. Why?
Because anyone who loves free speech and wants to protect it, has to oppose censorship. It’s as simple as that.
Let me tell you about the right way to stand up against racism.
If you’ve ever visited the Capitol building in our nation’s capital, they probably took you down to the room they call the National Statuary Hall. Clustered around the perimeter stand bronze and marble statues of prominent Americans. These statues, explained the gentleman in the red jacket who guided my group, are gifts from each of the 50 states. Each state gets to send two.
The guide asked people which state they were from. Pennsylvania? Robert Fulton, inventor of the steam boat. Alabama? Helen Keller, co-discoverer of sign language. North Dakota? Sakakawea, who guided Lewis and Clark across the continental divide. Rhode Island? Roger Williams, famous for religious tolerance. Hawaii? Father Damien, he who cared for the lepers in his colony on Molokai.
Then he asked, “Anybody here from Mississippi?” There was no response, so he gestured to a statue to his right and asked, “Anybody know who that is?” Somebody looked—and came back to tell us. He seemed embarrassed to say the name out loud: Jefferson Davis.
A stunned silence. Then another person said, “What’s he doing here? He doesn’t belong.”
That’s what the guide expected. “It’s a gift from the state of Mississippi. They can send anybody they want.” He was enjoying the effect. Then he directed our attention to the other side of the hall. There sat Rosa Parks—the first sculpture added to the hall as a gift from Congress in almost a century and a half.
“There’s Rosa Parks, a black woman who defied the laws of segregation, sitting across the hall from the president of the confederacy. He’s looking at her and she’s looking right back at him.” And that’s how he made his point. No need to reference the debates taking place upstairs where, we, as Americans, expect our elected representatives to air opposing views vigorously and freely.
So where can I buy my confederate flag pin? It has a new meaning now, thanks to the self-anointed thought police. I’ll wear it on one lapel and Rosa Parks on the other.