Another shark attack reported along the Carolina beaches!
Yesterday, a 68-year-old man was seriously injured and almost died after being attacked by a shark off the North Carolina coast. It was the 7th shark attack in the past three weeks. Two teens lost limbs in two of the attacks.
It is now being reported that a 12-year-old boy was attacked by a shark off the coast of South Carolina Tuesday. The youngster was swimming with a cousin about 15 feet off the beach when he was bitten by a shark. His wound required eight stitches. That brings the total of shark attacks off the Carolina beaches to 8 in 3 weeks.
North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory says safety officials are still trying to figure out if there is a pattern in the series of attacks against humans frolicking in the surf, but so far, no specific pattern or reason has been discovered. This leaves officials still figuring out how to keep all those who will be heading to the Carolina beaches this Fourth of July weekend safe. It appears there are no plans to close the beaches.
This real-life drama along the beaches of Carolina parallels the story line in the movie "Jaws," when the police chief of Amity Island tried desparately to convince the mayor of to close the beaches for the July 4th weekend following a shark attack. The mayor initially refused to close the beaches because of the economic impact of the holiday weekend on the businesses of Amity Island. Eventually, the mayor regretted not closing the beaches!
The series of 8 shark attacks includes two teenagers attacked at Oak Island, NC just 90 minutes apart. That has led to many asking - why are the sharks attacking?
There may be several reasons. People are flocking to the beaches in great numbers, but the warmer water and drought conditions may also be to blame. During a drought, the amount of freshwater flowing into the Atlantic is reduced and that creates higher salt levels, which attracts sharks closer to shore.
George H. Burgess, director of the Florida Program for Shark Research told CNN's Anderson Cooper, "This is a situation that we can't ignore, as we've had a number of attacks that are serious within a short period of time." Burgess also warned, "There's something going on there, there's no doubt about that. It's a perfect storm of environmental and biological variables as well as human activity."
This week, James Patterson's adaptation of "Zoo" premiered. The series explores what would happen if animals communicated with each other and decided to rebel against humans. Could the sharks be retaliating against humans?
Would you swim in the ocean off the Carolina beaches this weekend? If the beaches are not officially closed and someone ventures into the waters and is attacked by a shark – are they to blame?
The main premise of the movie "Jaws," was a shark that has the emotion to target humans. That was also highly criticized because that is not considered reality. But with the current series of shark attacks off the coast of the Carolinas – one can only wonder!
The latest casualty in the controversy over the Confederate flag is the 1980s TV series "The Dukes of Hazzard." TV Land announced that reruns of the popular series have been pulled from the network's line up, but declined to confirm that their decision was based on the Confederate flag emblazoned on the hood of the 1969 orange Dodge Charger driven by cousins Bo and Luke.
And last week, Warner Bros., which owns "The Dukes of Hazzard," stopped production on toy replicas of the signature car known as "General Lee."
Has the crusade against the Confederate flag gone too far?
As a white guy who grew up in the suburbs of New Orleans, but has lived in other major cities around the country, I understand that the Confederate flag is a symbol of heritage to some and certainly a symbol of hate to others. I also recognize that, in recent times, the flag has been hijacked by those who wish to express their support of white supremacy by displaying the flag.
Regardless of what the Confederate flag means to those who view it as a symbol of Southern pride, the flag is more widely interpreted today as a symbol of hate and should no longer fly on government flagpoles. Anyone who currently displays the Confederate flag knowing the fact that it is seen as a symbol of hate, must assume that they will be labeled as racists. Whether that's fair or not is inconsequential to the reality that many people see it has a flag of hate.
When I heard that Walmart and many other retailers were removing all Confederate flags and other Confederate merchandise from their shelves, I supported that as a good business move in 2015.
The issue of a Walmart bakery refusing a customer's request to bake a cake with a Confederate flag on it is a bit more complicated. Since I support the idea that businesses serve customers without discriminating, I have argued that if a bakery makes wedding cakes and a gay couple requests a wedding cake, then the bakery should be obligated to bake the wedding cake for the gay couple. I feet that the Walmart bakery should have prepared the cake with the Confederate flag on it, but I also understand that if the company policy is to refuse to sell any Confederate flag merchandise, then maybe the cake falls under that policy.
Discrimination is not always clearly defined. Walmart would be guilty of discrimination if it only baked Confederate flag cakes for some people and not others, but the company ban on Confederate flag items complicates that debate.
I have to admit that I have never watched an entire episode of "The Dukes of Hazzard," in reruns or when it aired originally on CBS between 1979 and 1985. I wasn't boycotting the show – it was simply a comedy that never attracted my attention. But when I read that TV Land had suddenly pulled all reruns of the show, I thought that maybe this crusade against the Confederate flag had gone too far.
Unlike a flag flying on government property, which greets all citizens, the Confederate flag on the hood of the car "General Lee" in a comedy is not something that will be viewed by anyone other than those who choose to tune into the TV show.
Furthermore, the parts I have seen from "The Dukes of Hazzard" define the show as a comedy about two bumbling cousins and the unruly cast of characters that accompany them through each episode. If it is a comedy about stereotypical Southern characters, then wouldn't imagery of the Confederate flag be appropriate?
If "The Dukes of Hazzard" portrayed Southern pride and heritage as something to be emulated in society today, then Confederate references would be inappropriate. But it's a comedy about wacky Southern characters that are not presented as role models in the real world.
It is easy for individuals and the media to form opinions that are definite. It takes an effort to look beyond blanket judgment and consider that decisions need not always be black and white. Not that everyone will agree, but I don't think there is anything hypocritical about supporting taking down the Confederate flag from government flagpoles, but not condemning a Confederate flag on the hood of a car that is a character in a comedy about Southern hicks.
The problem with debates today is that to many people are quick to judge everything on an all-or-nothing basis. We should challenge ourselves to think before judging everything as bad or good.
But the one that about "The Dukes of Hazzard" that transcended race was the ultra short cutoff blue jeans worn by Daisy Mae Duke! That character, played by Katherine Bach, inspired others to wear "Daisy Dukes."
A customer ordered a cake featuring a Confederate flag and the bakery at Walmart refused to make the cake. But the same customer ordered a cake with the ISIS battle flag on it and the Walmart bakery made that cake.
During the height of the current controversy over the Confederate flag, this is just the kind of incident that fuels the argument that America’s politically correct mentality will allow a cake with the ISIS battle flag to be made, but not one bearing the likeness of the Confederate battle flag.
Louisiana resident Chuck Netzhammer was frustrated when the Walmart in Slidell, LA refused to make a cake with the Confederate flag, but had no objection to making a cake with the ISIS flag. “Walmart, can you please explain why you’re alienating Southern Americans with this trash that you’re allowing being sold at your store while at the same point, Confederate memorabilia is not allowed,” Netzhammer says.
Watch the video here:
Walmart joined other major retailers in banning the sale of all Confederate flags and Confederate flag merchandise. Many people in the South have expressed their disgust over the new condemnation of the Confederate flag, claiming that is it nothing more than an attempt to rewrite history.
The newest controversy over the flag erupted immediately following the killing of nine black worshippers as they sat in a black church during a prayer meeting by an alleged young, white male shooter. Pictures of the white shooter with the Confederate flag seemed to confirm that the shooting was racially motivated.
Protests condemning the Confederate flag as a symbol of hate have spread across America. Those protests have inspired counter protests supporting the displaying of the flag and the KKK has scheduled a rally in South Carolina July 18.
The question of why Walmart would make a cake with an ISIS flag and not a Confederate flag is legitimate. I have argued on The Scoot Show on WWL that businesses should serve the public without discriminating against customers. I believe a bakery should be obligated to make a cake for a gay couple if they are in the business of making wedding cakes. I will also argue that Walmart should have made the cake with the Confederate flag for the customer.
Walmart has apologized for making the cake with the ISIS flag and said in a statement that “It’s unfortunate one customer thought to take advantage of an associate who did not know the [ISIS] flag and its meaning.” That is a legitimate point. The ISIS flag may be easily recognizable in the context of a news story about the terrorist group, but not necessarily in an setting void of anything ISIS-related.
Businesses in America should not discriminate against customers, and that means Walmart should have made the cake with the Confederate flag. Baking such a cake is completely different from displaying the flag on state or federal government property.
The two major controversies last week - the Supreme Court ruling that banning same-sex marriage is unconstitutional and the question of whether the Confederate flag should be displayed spread over the weekend and into this new week.
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press” and continued his condemnation of the Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage, along with his support of the religious liberty bills that have been debated in Louisiana and other states.
“You now have a court that’s not reading the Constitution, not reading the dictionary,” Jindal told host Chuck Todd. Jindal went on to say, “Why couldn’t the court have said we’re going to respect the decisions made by the states? Why not say we’re going to defer to the elected representatives of the people?” Would Jindal maintain that same attitude if the voters of a liberal state voted to ban guns? Or, would he then promote the power of court rulings and the Second Amendment? Opening the door to majority vote on issues that involve individual freedom is a slippery slope.
Jindal did say that Louisiana would ultimately abide by the Supreme Court’s ruling. The delay in joining every other state in granting marriage licenses to same-sex couples is an act of arrogance over intelligence.
Governor Jindal also argued that Christian Americans should be allowed to use their religious beliefs in refusing to do business with gays. The Governor said that he is not talking about a restaurant serving gays, but bakeries or photographers who are asked by gay couples to participate in a gay wedding. I do not agree that conducting business fairly amounts to participation.
My comment to Governor Jindal would have been, “Then you would support a restaurant refusing to serve a gay couple or group of gays celebrating a bachelor or bachelorette party? What about a gay or group of gay customers that are obviously celebrating their anniversary or a birthday? Could they be refused service?”
I think the rule is simple – if you choose to do business in America, then you abide by the rules of our society, one of which is anti-discrimination laws.
The Republican candidates that are condemning same-sex marriage in the aftermath of the Supreme Court ruling will either allow other Republican candidates to rise up as the sensible alternatives to Hillary Clinton or another Democrat, or will usher in another Democratic president in 2016.
Polls reflecting the sentiment in America regarding same-sex marriage do not support the vile objections of many Republicans. Polls show that Republican voters under 50 have shown so much new support in gay marriage that pandering to those who demand continued opposition will spell defeat in a general election.
“Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd mentioned that President Harry Truman opposed interracial marriage saying that “racial intermarriage ran counter to teachings of the Bible.” Do those who accept interracial marriage but oppose same-sex marriage based on the Bible see any parallels between the two controversies? Of course, not everyone agrees with either, but the overall view of interracial marriage changed in American – will the nation’s view of same-sex marriage change, too?
The intense controversy over same-sex marriage begs the question – who made you the judge of others? The continued defiance to accept same-sex marriage as constitutional amounts to a need to tell others how to lead their lives and it supports the government forcing specific moral beliefs on individuals.
The controversies over same-sex marriage and the Confederate flag should remind us that there will always be decisions made by government and voters with which we disagree. The side that opposes the ruling on legalizing same-sex marriage is refusing to accept the decision, but had the decision been to uphold banning gay marriage, that group would be applauding the same government institution telling the other side that this was the decision of the Supreme Court and this is America so “live with it.”
Those who vehemently oppose the demands to remove Confederate flags have told those who were offended by the flag to move on and “live with it.”
As a nation, we could do a better job of accepting the things we disagree with as long as we are not forced to participate in the things with which we disagree.
Rulings and decisions do not always change opinions, so if your opinion on a controversial issue remains unchanged, why not accept the advice you might be quick to give others? This is America – if the Confederate flag no longer flies on government property or if same-sex marriage is legal – this is America – “live with it!”
Gay marriage is legal in America! The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that it is unconstitutional for any state to ban same-sex marriage. This is a landmark decision for the LGBT community and for the growing number of straight Americans that believe in equality. But this Supreme Court ruling will not stop the heated debate over same-sex marriage or the dire predictions that this will lead to the complete demise of America.
In 2003, I wrote that same-sex marriage would be legal in the United States by 2010. I missed it by five years. Looking back on key decisions by the Supreme Court, this decision should not be surprising.
The Supreme Court’s rulings on legalizing birth control pills, abortion and the 2003 case of Lawrence v. Texas, which declared any state’s ban on sodomy was unconstitutional, set a precedent for the High Court’s respect for right to privacy.
Following the 2003 decision legalizing sodomy, many feared that would prove to be a ‘gateway’ ruling that would open the path for legal same-sex marriage and that ruling was an indication of how the Constitution would be interpreted in the case of gay marriage.
This is Scoot On The Air. A lot of people called and texted today predicting the end of America. After just a few hours of nationwide #MarriageEquality, let's see what's changed!
Legalizing same-sex marriage will not change the beliefs of those who quote the Bible to condemn homosexuality, but it does prevent states from denying the freedom to marry in America to homosexuals.
I never understood the hysteria over homosexuality and gay marriage. Recognizing the right to marry is not going to lead to an increase in homosexuals in America and it is not going to be responsible for kids deciding to become gay. It is simply granting a right protected by the Constitution to every American.
The hysteria over legalizing interracial marriage, birth control pills and sodomy did not prove to be a legitimate concern and the “America is doomed” mentality will also prove to be without merit.
One moment following the Supreme Court’s decision this morning legalizing same-sex marriage in America captures the real meaning of this civil rights battle. In an unprecedented manner, citizens were allowed to venture up the steps to the pillars of the Supreme Court. The crowd there was jubilant over the decision began to sing. They didn’t sing “We Are Family” or “I Will Survive,” songs that have long been unofficial anthems in the LGBT community. They sang a sincere version of the “Star Spangled Banner” – America’s national anthem.
That moment explained to America that this was a fight about equality for all Americans. During the debate over the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in the military, openly gay Congressman Barney Frank once commented that gays just want to join the military and get married. Joining the military and being in a committed marriage are fundamental to conservative values.
I have recently been writing and talking about how our country is changing. The Confederate flag controversy and the legalizing of gay marriage are two milestones that now mark the road to a changing America and there will be more indications still to come.
The number of prominent Republicans who suddenly supported taking down the Confederate flag was a response to the perceived changes, even among many Republicans. Any presidential candidate that continues the fear tactics that same-sex marriage is our downfall will surely not win the White House. It will be interesting if some of the candidates use fear to rally voters. Nationwide polls indicate a new direction for America – even among Republican voters under 50.
In the future, I will be here to witness the silence from those who have made extreme predictions about how gay marriage will destroy America. And there will be silence because those who swear by their negative predictions never seem to be around to admit they were wrong.
As a straight male, legalizing gay marriage does not impact my life directly, but it does give me comfort to know that I live in a country where everyone is treated equally!
The sad truth about the reaction to the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) from both sides is that the idea of America finally joining the world of industrialized nations that offer health care to its citizens has become secondary to the role it’s playing in the high-stakes game of politics.
In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court has again declared that Obamacare is constitutional and the law of the land. And for the second time in four Supreme Court terms, Chief Justice John Roberts has broken with the conservatives and supported the controversial legislation. In his majority opinion, Justice Roberts wrote, “Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them.”
The case that was before the Supreme Court, King v. Burwell, focused on whether the federal government had the power to provide subsidies to help low-income Americans pay for health insurance. The High Court ruled that the law passed by Congress made that clear.
As Americans, we should all be disgusted with the political rhetoric that surrounds Obamacare. The President and Democrats applaud the law proclaiming that it has led to millions of Americans gaining health coverage for the first time without regard for those who have been put at a financial disadvantage. Republicans condemn the law claiming that no one benefits and generally oppose the individual mandate, which forces citizens to buy health insurance.
In 1993, some prominent Republicans supported an alternative to a universal coverage bill that included and individual mandate. Then in 1994, a Republican proposal titled the Consumer Choice Health Security Act also included an individual mandate. That provision was removed from the bill, but Republicans did not question the constitutionality of the individual mandate in the mid-90s.
I realize that times change and so do politicians, but among politicians there seems to be a glaring reluctance to admit that opinions have changed. Maybe that’s because political opinions often change to fit the political mood, rather than reflect what is best for Americans.
President Obama and Democrats are celebrating the Supreme Court victory, but there is always the possibility, though remote, that the next president and Congress could work together to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
In the political game we are watching, Obama and Democratic leaders boast about how great Obamacare is for America. Republican leaders condemn it as if there are no benefits for any Americans.
The predictions that Obamacare would not lead to a significant decrease in the number of uninsured Americans were wrong. In fact, the number of Americans now under the law surpassed even the expectations of the Obama Administration.
Depending on whom you talk to, Obamacare is either great for America or a complete disaster. The truth is there are some negative aspects of the law, but there are also some positive benefits for Americans. I wonder how many conservatives who condemn everything about Obamacare, have children or friends who are benefitting. I wonder if there are any conservatives willing to say that their daughters, sisters and mothers should be penalized in obtaining health care coverage just because of their gender?
There are also liberals who will not face the fact that the law has increased costs for many Americans and has put their heath care routine in turmoil.
We depend on our political leaders to do what is in our best interest, but instead, they are more likely to use any opportunity to exploit an important issue for the sole purpose of enhancing the image of their party. That is not what we elected them to do.
What should be happening right now is not happening. Republicans and Democrats should be admitting that there are good things and bad things about Obamacare and they are willing to work with each other, in the interest of the American people, to find the best way to make it all work. Instead, we are witnessing political stonewalling. One party loves it and the other party wants the whole thing thrown out, which is not likely after the Supreme Court ruling.
Long before Obamacare, healthcare costs were skyrocketing on a regular basis with no end in sight. The idea that healthcare costs have risen because of Obamacare comes those who consider the truth to be inconvenient to their argument.
The theory of Obamacare is similar to the theory that if everyone has car insurance then the overall cost to society is lowered. If everyone has health care coverage, in theory, the cost burden to society should decrease.
For many Americans, that’s just a theory at this point, but millions of other Americans have heath care coverage for the first time or have seen their monthly premiums lowered.
Not one of us can be certain about the long-range impact of the Affordable Care Act on this country, and the tense debate is fueled by membership in one party or the other.
Maybe not by admission, but Republicans are feeling a sense of relief because the Supreme Court’s decision means they are not pressured to come up with an alternative right now.
Republicans also love the idea that this gives them an issue for rallying their base and they will try to convince voters that they can and will repeal Obamacare – even though any campaign rhetoric promising to repeal it is at best – an extreme long shot.
The fallout from the battle against the Confederate flag continues to spread.
The state of Alabama has a history of leaders that defiantly supported segregation and it may have been a surprise to hear that Republican Alabama Governor Robert Bentley ordered all Confederate flags removed from the state Capitol grounds. Governor Bentley did not have meetings about the decision – he reacted to the controversy by simply ordering the flags taken down.
The parade of Republican politicians that has joined in the condemning the Confederate flag has been surprising. In yesterday’s blog and on “ The Scoot Show” last night on WWL, we talked about an obvious change of attitudes in appealing to Republican voters. The opinions of politicians are generally formed by their interpretation of voter sentiment, and not the result of what’s best for their state or country.
A surprising ally in the crusade to bring down the Confederate flag is the governing body of NASCAR, which announced they will “continue our long-standing policy to disallow the use of the Confederate flag symbol in any official NASCAR capacity.”
NASCAR is not banning the Confederate flag and acknowledges the First Amendment rights of fans to wear or bear the flag at events. The impression that NASCAR and the Confederate flag are partners is false. In 2012, NASCAR canceled plans to have golfer Bubba Watson drive “General Lee,” the car from the TV series “The Dukes of Hazzard,” around a racetrack because the car bears a Confederate flag on its roof.
NASCAR has a “Drive For Diversity” program that assists in minorities becoming drivers and mechanics. NASCAR spokesman David Higdon said, “The image of the Confederate flag is not something that should play an official role in our sport as we continue to reach out to new fans and make NASCAR more inclusive.”
The voice of Americans condemning the Confederate flag has been loud and clear and politicians, even Republican politicians, have heard that voice and responded. But the mass denouncing of the Confederate flag could be met with a spike in the sales of Confederate flags and Confederate flag merchandise.
Any increase in the sale of flags and merchandise should not be interpreted as a sign that the debate is creating more racists in America. Not everyone who flies, displays or supports the Confederate flag is a racist and the idea of banning anything often leads to some hysteria that spurs new interest in a newly banned item. When there is a tragic shooting and the issue of gun control is sparked, gun manufacturers benefit from a sudden increase in the sale of firearms. One has to wonder if any of the hysteria about a government initiative to take away our guns is fueled by the gun manufacturing industry.
The current controversy over the Confederate flag will probably lead to an increase in the sale of flags and merchandise, but that will be the result of making the Confederate flag a novelty. However, it would be naïve to ignore the probability that many will now want to buy and display the Confederate flag to prove they have a right to that expression.
Future NASCAR events, country music concerts and any other events that attract fans that share common views on the Confederate flag could have more Confederate flags displayed than before the controversy.
Let’s remember that any increase in the number of Confederate flags we see is more about a show of support for the flag by those who feel the need to make a statement and less about an increase in racism in America.
The debate over the perceived meaning of the Confederate flag is not a new debate, but following the racially motivated shooting at a black church in Charleston, SC, there is suddenly a new sense of urgency in debating the meaning of the flag.
Most interesting about this current debate over the Confederate flag is the number of Republicans who have changed their opinions and joined the chorus of voices calling for displays of the flag to cease.
South Carolina Governor Nikki Hayley reversed her position and called for the flag to be removed from the state capitol. The South Carolina legislature has taken the first step toward a full vote on whether the flag should be removed.
Republican presidential candidate Senator Lindsey Graham from South Carolina also changed his opinion that the Confederate flag is a legitimate representation of the South and is now saying the flag is no longer relevant.
Presumed Republican presidential candidate Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker says the flag should come down.
Republican Senator John McCain and former Republican Governor Mitt Romney are echoing the sentiment that government display of the Confederate flag is no longer appropriate and is, in fact, racist.
Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe (D) is now asking that the Confederate flag be removed from state-sponsored license plates and Mississippi’s House Speaker is leading a movement to change the state’s flag.
But one of the more interesting cases of a changing opinion about displaying the Confederate flag comes from conservative radio talk show host Jack Hunter in Charleston, who calls himself the “Southern Avenger.” A photo defining Hunter’s position on being white in the South shows the host wearing a Confederate flag version of a Mexican wrestling mask.
Hunter has long argued that the Confederate flag stands for self-determination, state’s rights and represents an honored heritage. He refused to accept that the flag was about race.
The conservative radio host now says, “I was wrong. That flag is always about race. Whatever political or historical points the flag’s defenders make, there will never be a time – and never has been a time – in which millions of Americans have looked at that symbol and not seen hatred.”
Why this rapid reversal of opinions on the Confederate flag?
America is changing and this is but one sign of a collective shift in the voice of Americans. Many will refuse to accept change as a reality, but the evidence is quite obvious.
On Wednesday, June 16, 2015, I wrote a blog for WWL.com about the recent trend of large and small American companies proactively raising the minimum wage and benefits for employees. Walmart and McDonald’s are among the companies increasing wages. Chipotle Mexican Grill recently announced that part-time employees will be offered vacation, sick pay and tuition reimbursement.
The trend of improving wages and benefits for employees is a direct response to the growing sense that the pay disparity between the highest-paid and the lowest-paid employees is unfair. As a result, companies have determined that raising wages and benefits will enhance their company’s image to the American people, which will hopefully lead to an increase in business.
Fast-food restaurants and the producers of food are also responding to a discontented public that is using their consumer power to demand healthier food choices. The companies making the changes are hoping to improve their image to the public.
Politicians and businesses are changing their views in response to the growing collective moderate voice of America, which condemns the Confederate flag as racist and part of our past – not the present or our future.
I have long talked and written about the need for the moderate voice of Americans to become louder and more active in an effort to balance the extremes on the right and the left. Extreme views attract a disproportionate amount of media attention, but do not reflect America.
Many Americans seem to lean right or left, but outnumbering the far right and the far left is a more moderate ideological voice. To counter the image that “moderates” are people who have no opinion or can’t make up their minds about issues, I refer to myself as a “radical moderate!” Moderates can be translated into logical, reasonable and common sense Americans.
Politicians and businesses react to the prevailing sentiments of America. We have seen politicians change their views on same-sex marriage as opinion polls continue to show more Americans supporting legal gay marriage.
As Americans, we are not helpless pawns in the game of politics and business - we should take notice of the fact that our voice is powerful and can manifest change.
The collective impact of many of the changing issues in America, today are the direct result of Americans taking their country back!
Remember – your voice does matter – but only if you use it!
When you see a Confederate flag flying or hanging in the window of a pick up truck, what comes to mind: Southern pride or racism?
Controversy over what the Confederate flag stands for is, again, being debated in America. This on-going debate has been resurrected because the Confederate Battle Flag flies near the state capitol building in Columbia, South Carolina, the state where a young white male entered a black church and opened fire killing 9 black worshippers during a Bible study meeting. His admitted goal was to start a race war.
The demand to take down the Confederate flag represents a diverse group from NAACP leaders to former Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney. Suddenly, the controversy over the Confederate flag has become a campaign issue with some candidates expressing their opinions and others side-stepping the issue.
The fact that the Confederate flag so quickly inspires a heated debate about racism demonstrates that racism remains a dominant and unsettled issue across America, and especially in the South. The ease with which tempers flare over the Confederate flag controversy reflects the civil war over ideology that was not settled when the war ended in 1865.
Human communication is a two-part process. There is the intent of the communication and there is the reception of the communication. Ideally, both are congruent, but often intent and reception are polar opposites.
When we talk about the Confederate flag, many people try to confuse the discussion by arguing that there are several different Confederate flags. The “Stars and Bars,” first adopted in 1861 and flown over the temporary capitol of the Confederacy, Montgomery, Alabama, closely resembled the U.S. flag. The “Stars and Bars” was so similar to the U.S. flag that many Southerners felt it represented the ideology they were fighting against. In addition, the two flags were so similar that the “Stars and Bars” failed to establish enough distinction between the North and the South in the field of battle.
The more familiar Confederate flag with the red background and the blue X with white stars across the it is the Confederate Battle Flag that was adopted by the Army of Northern Virginia.
The argument over which Confederate flag is the focus of debate is secondary to the meaning behind every variation of the Confederate flag. Specifics are not important in a controversy that centers on meaning.
Since this new debate over whether any Confederate flag should be flown, especially on government property, erupted out of the recent mass murder of blacks in a church in Charleston, South Carolina, I think it’s important to understand that the Confederate flag is not to blame for the murderous actions of 21-year-old Dylann Roof.
The passionate rhetoric that “this flag must come down” places blame for the racist mentality of Roof on the presence of the flag itself. It may serve to draw attention to the leaders using the tragedy to advance their agendas, but it is not logical to believe that the Confederate flag is to blame for the tragedy. Blaming the flag is also an attempt to find an easy, tangible solution to a problem that is rooted deeper in America than a flag flying from a flagpole.
We don’t know what dwells in the hearts and minds of each person who chooses to display or support displaying the Confederate flag and if it is respect for heritage and Southern roots, can it be argued that displaying the flag is no difference than pride in African heritage?
The meaning of the flag to those who support it must be accompanied by true knowledge of Southern heritage and American history. And support for the Confederate flag should also be understood as possible support for a segregated America that endorsed the use of some human beings as slaves.
Whether the Confederate flag means heritage or hate, it is imperative that we understand that a ‘flag’ should never to be blamed for evil. Flags are symbols usually made of cloth and a piece of cloth should never be given the power to explain evil acts. Those with evil intent showcase and define their cause through the use of flags, but the presence of a flag is not the cause of evil.
To suggest that the Confederate flag flying at or near a state government building inspires hate is to say that the sight of an ISIS flag in America would inspire people to join ISIS. Like any medium, a flag reflects those who rally around it and is not responsible for the actions of the group that selects it.
The sad part about defending the display of the Confederate flag in 2015 is that it defines the territorialism of many Americans. It can’t be as simple as taking down the flag because many see it as representing hate. The argument seems to center on “this is what it means to me and the hell with the fact that you are offended.”
I can argue that the Confederate flag should not fly because it should no longer represents the America we live in today and that supporting the flag must mean support for an American controlled by the white population.
I can also argue that if the Confederate flag disappeared, that white supremacy would not disappear.
The truth is we are all exposed to things that are meaningful to some, but offensive to others and that is the reality of a free America.
Let’s not allow the controversy over the Confederate flag to distract from the real issue of racism and white supremacy, which for many the flag represents.
If you display or support displaying of the Confederate flag in America in 2015, only you know whether it reflects respect for your Southern heritage or your support of white supremacy.
And if you do display the flag, you have a responsibility to know about the history behind the flag and the motive of the South in 1861. The questions is – do you?
It can be argued that any violence act that results in feelings of ‘terror’ is an act of terrorism, but in today’s world, ‘terrorism’ is defined as an act that is motivated by a religious or political agenda. Defining the Charleston church massacre as an “act of terrorism” challenges the true meaning of ‘terrorism.’
The suspect, 21-year-old Dylann Roof, has said that he wanted to start a race war by shooting blacks in a prayer meeting in a historic black church. Does that make it an act of terrorism? The answer is not so definitive.
The other challenge for many is defining the actions of a racist, white male as an act of terrorism. If the mass shooting in Charleston had been committed by a Muslim or a radicalized sympathizer of ISIS, there would be no question that it was an act of terrorism. But the fact that it is a young white male makes it difficult for everyone to agree that the shooting was an act of terrorism.
How the tragic act is defined does not change the outcome, but the debate over whether this was an act of terrorism illustrates the prejudice of many Americans.
Police departments across the country have admitted that the greatest threat faced are not from Islamic terrorists, but from white supremacy groups and sympathetic individuals. There have been early indications that Dylann Roof’s act of violence was motivated by racist views and it is being investigated as a hate crime even if it is not defined as a terrorist act.
The vigilant attempts to define the church massacre demonstrate that political views seem to be drawn into every action today reflecting the great political divide in America. And different sides will try to define the tragedy in terms that best support their agenda.
Those who believe in gun rights to the point of thinking that the only way to stop violence is for everyone to be armed and there was an instant suggestion after the mass shooting that now “all pastors need to be armed.” When there has been a shooting at a school some say “all teachers need to be armed,” shooting at a movie theater and “all movie-goers need to be armed.” Do you notice a pattern?
There have always been very evil people in the world and specifically defining what motivated an individual to shoot and kill 9 innocent people sitting in a church is not going to change the tragedy and probably not prevent future tragedies that result from the failure of some humans.
The individual who is capable of committed a horrific act of violence is an individual that will seek a reason to justify the actions. Did racism lead Dylann Roof to allegedly commit that mass shooting? Or, did he find extreme racist views as a way of justifying his actions?