The New Confederacy of Dunces
Where Will the Next Fort Sumter Be?" nearly six years ago, my alter ego Mikey Flannigan called it when he began,
"Maybe we ought to start a pool taking guesses where the first official shot will be fired when the second Civil War is begun. My guess is it will once again be the hilariously dysfunctional state of South Carolina."
I think Mike's point was that South Carolina would start the second Civil War as they had the first back in April 1861. And in a way, he nailed it the moment Dylann Roof opened fire on a bible study group at the Charleston AME that killed nine parishioners, including the pastor/state senator.
So, yes, in a way a South Carolinian began this latest "war of aggression" as sons of the soil prefer to think of the War Between the States. But in a way, this is also a war begun by us. Because Dylann Roof's avowed intent, to strike a blow for the white south from a place of black worship, couldn't have backfired more perfectly than as if he'd planned it.
After initially resisting a massive social media campaign (such as Twitter's #Takedowntheflag hashtag), SC Governor Nikki "See, I Have Black People Around Me" Haley and South Carolina Senator and GOP presidential candidate Lindsey Graham stood on the steps of the state capital in Columbia and demanded the legislature vote to permanently take down the odious confederate flag.
The backlash against this symbol of antebellum racism wasn't just at the grassroots level. Much of the momentum started with President Obama himself when he said the Confederate flag belonged in a museum. Now elevated to the presidential level, it was only inevitable it would gain traction and begin to effect change.
But a flag is only a symbol and, while symbols can be powerful, racism doesn't need symbols to sustain itself. Taking down the confederate flag that Appomattox made irrelevant over a century and a half ago will only ease old atavistic wounds within those primarily victimized by it: The African American people. Taking down the flag through an act of state congresses, burning them in the streets of America and maintaining a vicious backlash against anything even remotely smelling antebellum is merely a good start. It is not racism's silver bullet .
To prove this, right after President Obama delivered a podcast in which he actually used the N word, the white backlash was inevitable, predictable and swift. Elizabeth Hasselbeck and other Fox wingnuts were shocked, shocked that our black president would use such an ugly word and openly worried he'd drop the N Bomb on Congress. It was the ultimate delineation of white privilege: They were essentially saying our president couldn't and shouldn't use the word because only white people should.
But the president was absolutely correct in dragging this word kicking and screaming into the disinfecting sunlight. The angry, old white people making up Fox's shrinking demographic are absolutely appalled that a president who's been the target of a resurgent racism since 2008 would actually call them on it.
Just like when fascist-leaning Republicans erupt in faux outrage at being correctly identified as fascist-leaning Republicans.
Taking down a mere symbol of racist values, a symbol of slavery, torture, rape and lynching won't do it. It's merely a start. It's been over 150 years. We need to start dismantling this largely imaginary neoconfederacy, to hound every racist out of existence, to out them whenever possible until people finally realize racism's time and the confederacy that had supported it has come and gone. If they don't like it, they can live with Peter Thiel on his unregulated right wing paradise on an oil platform.
There's a sea change taking place across the planet. Before, it was only a whisper and you had to put your ear to the breast of Mother Earth to hear it. But now it's no longer a whisper, no longer a grumble and is turning into a deafening roar. It is the growing chorus of the human race that no longer tolerates racism any more than it does homophobia or misogyny or corporate greed. We are demanding equal rights for all humans. We are demanding a fair living wage.
And we are demanding the confederate flag be taken down.
The once sleeping giant is now yawning and stretching, ready to begin a new day...