Mike Rowe posted a question on his Facebook page Monday from a fan named Jason Frank who asked Rowe how he feels when he sees the Confederate battle flag and whether or not he thinks it should come down. The fan also asked Rowe if he feels the flag is a symbol of hate or of independence.
The Confederate Battle Flag makes me feel angry. It reminds me of The KKK. I hate The KKK. Consequently, the sight of that flag makes me want to travel back in time, long before the Klan came together, find the original Grand Wizard, and beat him to death with a golf club.
Swastikas also make me angry. They remind me of Nazis. I really hate Nazis. Consequently, whenever I see a swastika, I want to travel back in time, find Hitler long before he came to power, and beat him to death with a golf club too.
But the CNN host also said:
…we need to be very careful about congratulating ourselves too enthusiastically for removing a piece of cloth from the public square – even if it’s [sic] removal is long overdue. I also think we need to stop calling people racist, just because they see the flag as something other than a symbol of hate. This is what happens when we put a premium on our feelings. We assume everyone who disagrees with us is not merely wrong, but dangerous.
I know many good Southerners who abhor racism, but view this flag as an important connection to their ancestors – the vast majority of whom never owned slaves. This doesn’t mean the flag should be allowed to fly on public property – not for a minute. But it’s a mistake in my view, to equate the removal of a symbol, with the removal of the evil it’s come to symbolize. And that’s exactly what a lot of people are doing. We’re conflating cause and effect.
Rowe’s statement comes in light of the shooting of nine people allegedly by Dylann Roof at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in Charleston, S.C. South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, a Republican, has called for the flag to be removed from state grounds. Several companies announced they will no longer sell the flag out of deference to anyone who might be offended by what it represents.
Rowe characterized Roof as one who has all the traits of a card-carrying racist. “He’s got the whole package – vapid stare, dopey haircut, fancy apartheid patches, and of course, the Confederate Battle Flag,” he writes. “We’re repulsed, and yet, we also feel relief, because now we understand exactly what he is – he’s a racist, plain and simple. Now, all we have to do is eliminate the hatred that drove him to murder.” [Editor’s note: Roof has reportedly confessed but has not been convicted.]
By all means – lets take the flag down. It’s long past time. But let’s not fool ourselves. Racism and terrorism and all the other hate-filled ‘-isms’ that plague the species will never be eliminated by banning flags, burning books, limiting speech, or outlawing white sheets and pointy little hats.
When Dylan Roof walked into The First Emanuel Church and killed nine black Americans, he wasn’t waving his rebel flag or screaming the N-word. He didn’t look like a racist. He didn’t act like a racist. Until he started killing people.
That’s the problem with people in white sheets and pointy hats. They don’t always dress the part, or carry the proper flag.