Flag controversy diverts attention from real problems

Published 8:44 am Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Default OP0722 Editorial Confederate Flag
Why all the fuss over the Confederate flag and memorials? There’s more to this than meets the eye.
Last week, Tenn. Gov. Bill Haslam and others called for a large bust of Nathan Forrest Bedford, a Confederate General, to be removed from the state Capital. Now, the Memphis City Council has begun the process that could result in the removal of Forrest’s body and a statue of him from a park. After all these years, the Confederate General is viewed as a racist figure and a disgrace to his state.
The Confederate flag controversy has spread to almost every community in the South, including Carter County, where on any given day vehicles, usually older model trucks, with Confederate flags parade through town.
Many Southern communities have found themselves in the midst of a growing debate over the fate of Confederate flags after the recent massacre at a Charleston, S.C., church, where nine black people were killed. The shooter was a young white supremacist who appears in photos waving the Confederate flag.
But the debate goes further. Warner Brothers, the studio behind the “Dukes of Hazzard” TV show, announced it is ending the licensing of die-cast replicas and model kits featuring the Confederate flag on the hood of the show’s iconic car, the General Lee.
Some retail outlets, including Wal-Mart, have suspended selling the Confederate flag.
Symbols such as the Confederate flag inherently represent different things to different people. Some claim it represents heritage and history, not hate. Others say it is based on hate and racism.
We can take the Confederate flag down, fold it and stow it away in a trunk. It will still have its place in our history, but not displaying it will do nothing to heal the divisions and racial problems in America.
Flags are flags, they are a piece of cloth.
We get so bent out of shape over the smallest of things. True, we should get bent out of shape over the killing of innocent people, but the debate goes deeper than the Confederate flag.
It’s easy to jump on a band wagon when America hurts and is wounded at its very core. But will America be a better, safer place if we quit flying the Confederate flag? Probably not.
Was Charleston right to take down the Confederate flag flying at its state capitol? In light of the situation there, yes. But removing the body of Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest and a statue of him from a Memphis park is an emotional, knee-jerk reaction that could actually result in more division rather than good. When something like the Charleston shooting takes place, we should all take a deep breath and take time to consider and decide with caution and a sense of perspective what to do next.
We should examine the real problems and come up with real solutions on how to fix hatred issues in this country. It’s not just racism, but issues with immigration, extremists and hate groups. We should be suspicious of all pressure groups and activists. But, we should look at what they really want, and what is their real agenda.
America has lost its way, and the road map to fairness, treating our neighbors with love and respect has also been lost.
Very few believe that America is headed in the right direction. There are so many issues, many of which seem impossible to untangle and take corrective action.
The answer is not with politicians, nor with government. It lies within ourselves and our local communities. We would no well to follow the example of our children. Children do not see color. It doesn’t matter that their playmate is Chinese, African-American, or Latino. It’s only when they grow older they see the difference, because their parents do.
The people of Charleston and the people of the AME church who lost loved ones showed us how to forgive.
The Confederate flag has little to do with it. Taking it down won’t change what’s in the heart.

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