The public argument around the Confederate battle flag tells me more about the public than the flag. We have people defining what it means, both literally and symbolically. I've learned more about the Confederate flag this week than I ever wanted to know. Jon Stewart continues to make me want to tell him to shut his Yankee mouth. He fails to notice the North invaded the South, not the other way around. Of course, it can be said the South fired the first shot at Ft Sumter. Another Tonkin Gulf story. "He had a gun." My argument with Stewart has to do with him characterizing the South the invader. He doesn't say it, but talks as-if. I tire of his sweep of the hand dismissal of the South and Southerners like his dismissal of the white woman who wanted to be black. He lost credibility for me over his cheap shots at her from his perspective of self-righteous conformity to the social code of the moment calling himself liberal. He's most self-righteous on the subject of racism, quick to point and judge, just like the rest of us. The South is the same to him as a cartoon figure.
I've lived in the South throughout my adult life. The South I know from the inside is very different from the South Stewart thinks he knows from outside---New York, of all places to point the finger from. I'd like to see him go on about police brutality on black and poor people by NYPD to the same extent he's made fake issues of the South. Of course, he's put himself forward as the model non-racist. He's not the model non-misogynist, but he keeps that under the desk. My argument is not so much with Stewart as with taking such an absolute stance on a matter that goes deeper than good and bad. And I'm not going to be a racism apologist. I grew up in a racist family, near and extended, went to racist church and racist school, outside the South. I started shedding my racism young, knowing some black people, seeing they were not as characterized by white people. I was attracted to black people because they did not do denial. Every black person I knew talked straight, recognized a thing for what it was. I felt black people were refreshing, like clear mountain spring water. I remember the cartoon Indians in cowboy and Indian television of the Fifties saying, "White man speak with forked tongue." As a kid, all white people lied to me. I liked the black people I knew for not lying like white people.
Evidently, Yankees see the South a two-dimensional caricature, Bugs Bunny in a gray Civil War uniform. The decade I lived in Charleston, SC, deep South, I knew only liberals. The right wing was everywhere, even the majority of the population, but a large percentage of the people are not right wing. In the Blue Ridge, the majority of the population is right wing, though I only mix with people who are liberal or don't care about politics. That's just a social dynamic. People of the right don't like me for not being of the right. It's ok by me. I've come to stay away from white men my age, my peers. One look at the scowl on a white man's face with white hair and I know what tv channel he watches. Yet, exceptions abound. Myself, I hope. People in the South, like people everywhere, are not just one thing, not caricatures. Yankees display a conviction they're better than white Southerners, and certainly better than black Southerners, the way white middle class looks down on white working class, the part in the denial drawer. Racism is more taken for granted in the South than the rest of the country where the white people are racist too, but practice denial. Black people are racist. It's what we humans do. The only solution I can see is to acknowledge racism in self and be conscious of it, aware of it. Awareness is the beginning of addressing change in self.
I gave up on racism by the time I was out of high school. Black kids went to school and some were my neighbors. They were good people. The people living here from Mexico are good people. As far as I can tell, the only difference between us is culture. Black people have their culture, white people have theirs, and Mexicans have theirs. It is the cultures that make us different. Intolerance of other cultures is a problem. Racism boils down to ego. It amounts to saying, Not me. It is saying, I don't like a given point of view because it's not mine. I used to have a friend I had to stop knowing because he believed his the only true and valid point of view, all others nonsense, especially mine. This is how white people are toward black people, making it clear their whiteness is the only pigmentation and civilization valid. It can be said a general belief among white people that black people have no value. Otherwise, there would be something besides justification coming from white people about cops killing so many unarmed, young black men and women, even children and old people. The greatest justification of all, they kill white people and dogs, too. Racism is too complicated to be dealt with superficially. It can only be dealt with superficially in America. In the land of television, we only deal with social issues superficially, by distraction. This Confederate flag issue is a distraction from something else that matters we're not to know about. As soon as whatever the flag is covering up passes, concerns about the flag will go away with it.