17 July 2015

Symbols Matter

In the wake of the removal of the Virginia battle flag in South Carolina, and the publication of the photos of the apparent killer using that flag as a symbol of his views, it is perhaps time to think about symbols. The battle flag is only one of several symbols we should be considering.

Consider the white robes and pseudo-hoods of the KKK. In a somewhat amusing (OK, I have an odd sense of humor) event, white idiots wearing those get-ups, will be demonstrating in favor of the Virginia battle flag. Ah, but what is amusing? When the civil rights movement was ending Jim Crow, we were told, over and over, that there would be no issue were in not for (wait for it!) "out of State agitators." Yup, you guessed it, it is the NORTH Carolina bigots who are demonstrating in South Carolina's capitol. Outside agitators indeed.

We might also think of other symbolic acts and items. In the wake of the South Carolina murders, symbols celebrating Confederate victories, soldiers, and other heroes are being reconsidered, and in some cases removed from public properties, and some religious institutions. I am fairly sure that when he set out to kill innocents, he did not expect this response. But the gunman has set off an avalanche of change. The symbols of racism are failing.

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