Tuesday, July 15, 2008

On Flags and Skin

La Shawn Barber's post yesterday on dinosaurs (of the non-biological variety) raised the issue of the Confederate flag, and my response to one of the commenters got me to thinking about larger questions.

The flying of the Confederate flag has two meanings, according to the media. To blacks in America, the flag is racist. It screams to them that the people flying it are longing for a return to the days of slavery. To the Southerners who fly it, their flag stands for states' rights and has nothing to do with slavery.

I believe both sides are missing the real reason the Confederate flag flies.

I've watched Braveheart quite a few times, and I identify a little with the story because my paternal grandfather was in love with being of Scottish ancestry. We come from the MacDonald of Sleat clan, which included Flora MacDonald, the woman who smuggled Bonnie Prince Charlie out of Scotland by disguising him as her maid.

The much earlier story of how William Wallace, followed by Robert the Bruce, united the clans of Scotland would likely not have happened if the Scots hadn't had a common enemy: England's King Edward I. Without his (or similar) invasion, the clans would likely have destroyed each other. Fighting was what they did best. Instead, though, they unified against England and after pushing out the English, Scotland got her first king, Robert the Bruce as King Robert I. Scotland remained independent for a few hundred years, until James IV of England also became Scotland's king.

Even though Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales are all part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain, the Scots (and I suppose the Irish and Welsh) remain fiercely non-English. My take is that, having once tasted glory, a people group will resist even the slightest hint of assimilation into the conquering culture.

This is true for Texas as well. For a period of nine years there existed an independent country called the Republic of Texas. In 1845, the United States of America annexed Texas, and although a majority of Texans approved the merger, they still retain the collective memory of their nationhood even to this day.

In Texas people fly the state flag, which by strange coincidence is identical to the Republic of Texas flag. There are at least as many Texas flags flown in Texas as there are American flags flown.

My theory is that people cling to their highest glory. High school football stars hold on to their trophies. Somewhere in a box is the bronze medal I won at the big speech tournament my senior year of high school. And Texans, who are now just ordinary Americans like the rest of us, fly the flag that reminds them they were once a free nation.

I think that's what stirs Southerners to fly the Confederate flag. It's not racism or a desire to return to slavery. It's a desire to recapture a former glory. Once, for four brief years, they were revolutionaries, independent, fighting against the tyranny of a Congress stacked against them. They had their own president. They had their own heroes. They had their own flag. They were a free people ruled by no one but themselves, and it was glorious.

And then they lost the war. Their flag was taken away and replaced with the flag that symbolized the tyranny they had rebelled against. Their way of life was destroyed, their homes taken, and their independence turned into only a memory, but a memory that still stirred their hearts, a memory they passed down to their children. The Confederates may have been the losers, but their children and their children's children fly the flag of remembered glory.

For blacks in America, however, there is no shared glory to remember. Thrust into slavery by enemies in West Africa, shipped across the ocean, and forced into hard labor for life in a new world, most blacks here knew only loss and hardship. Even after slavery was abolished at the end of the Civil War, blacks weren't permitted real equality in much of the country. Individual blacks rose to prominence, but as a group they've had no shared moment of greatness.

Until Barack Obama became a serious contender for the presidency.

There are reports that black conservatives are considering voting for Obama in November. This despite Obama's record as the antithesis of conservatism. This paragraph describes the issue well (emphasis added):

Another "very likely" McCain vote, but a more moderate one, will come from Richard Ivory, founder of the blog HipHopRepublican. Ivory has a different view of the Republican Party, one that downplays the past and focuses on building the party up from a local level and bringing in urban African-American voters. "My blog was about starting a dialogue—basically get people to understand some Republican concepts from an urban perspective," Ivory says. And like Varner at Howard University, Ivory finds that some are miffed by his Republicanness and don't quite understand why he would support a "white old guy." But with the general election in full swing, he has found a good way to express his feelings: "I tell my friends, my heart is with Obama, and my brain is with McCain," Ivory says.

For many blacks in America, Barack Obama is the flag of Scotland, the flag of Texas and the flag of the Confederacy rolled into one. He is the hope of glory for a people who have had no such hope before, and as such he may be irresistible.

Update (07/16/2008):

Check the comments for more on this topic, especially with THEBIGDODDY and ChuckL. In combination, their comments have prompted me to remove the Confederate flag from the top of this post. As Chuck said, "I still would not fly or publicly display a nazi banner (I do not own one). And because of the mixed messages and ease of misunderstanding, neither would I fly a Confederate flag."

He's absolutely right. Even though I believe there's much more going on in the hearts of the Confederate flag wavers than pure racism, the hurt that flag stirs in other hearts is too great. I will not be displaying the Confederate flag again.

34 comments:

Tsofah said...

Great article! It's a lot to think about...but it's good!

Charlie said...

Very well put, Skye. An interesting theory about the Confederate flag, and I think it has a lot of truth to it. I think you've drawn the right comparison to Obama, too. It seems to me that a great many people will be voting for Obama as a symbol of something they want America to stand for, with little regard for his political beliefs. John McCain will have a long, hard battle ahead of him.

Marvin said...

The majority of the United States public schools teach that the Civil War was over slavery. Slavery was a minor issue of the war. First and foremost to the South was economics, followed by state's rights over the central government. Slavery fell in after that.

Slavery would have collapsed under its own cost within a decade. Mechanization of farming was far more cost effective than slave labor.

Anonymous said...

Counterpoint: Only rednecks fly the Confederate flag, and rednecks are gross; therefore, the Confederate flag is gross.

-E

SkyePuppy said...

Marvin,

Mechanization will be far more cost effective today than using illegal labor, if only we can stop the influx of illegals long enough to give agriculture a chance to mechanize strawberry and lettuce picking. Let's hope we don't have another civil war before we get that one figured out.

SkyePuppy said...

My son,

You're always so profound...

janice said...

Excellent post Skye.

My family used to fly the confederate flag along with the stars and stripes. My fathers family came from the Carolinas and were very proud to be rebels, even if it were for a short while.

THEBIGDODDY said...

Interesting Skye..
You write:

"The flying of the Confederate flag has two meanings, according to the media. To blacks in America, the flag is racist. It screams to them that the people flying it are longing for a return to the days of slavery. To the Southerners who fly it, their flag stands for states' rights and has nothing to do with slavery."

I believe that everything you write above is only PARTLY true. There are non-whites who are from the South who see the flag every day and are not averse to it, and there are whites, who are NOT from the South who fly it because of their ignorance allegiance to what they THINK that flag stands for.

There is more to it than "glory". The sad truth of the matter is that the South's virtues and non-virtues pretty much run dead even. There is nothing to brag about, but there is nothing obvious to loathe about either, except for the historical desire to have and keep other men(kind) as slaves.

Skye writes:

"I think that's what stirs Southerners to fly the Confederate flag. It's not racism or a desire to return to slavery. It's a desire to recapture a former glory."

That glory also entails dehumanizing other human beings. You can't say it's NOT racism and you shouldn't. The fact is that it's NOT ALL ABOUT racism/white supremacy, but it is inclusive of it.

Skye says:

"For blacks in America, however, there is no shared glory to remember. Thrust into slavery by enemies in West Africa..."

History will come to unilaterally reject these statements used to sooth the search consciences of people with little sympathy towards the historical sufferings of other.

Other than the renegade African slave trader Tippu Tip, of the Congo (who collaborated with northern Arabs) in aggression against other southern and western Africans, there is very little flattering documentation regarding the white American and European involvement in the TransAtlantic slave trade. Fact is, ALL were complicit in this sin which is a blot on the history of West African and early America.

ChuckL said...

Howdy Skye,

I like your provocative insights. Pretty good.

For myself, I have conflicting thoughts about the Confederate flag. I am one of those Texans about whom you write and, yes, there is a bigger than average independent streak running through us it would seem. Seeing the Confederate flag during my childhood was not unusual. In fact, I hung one among several other flags at one time in my dorm room. At no point did I see one and consciously (or unconsciously) think that I was making a statement of support for slavery.

I have come to understand better those who do. Even though I still regard it as an unjustified conclusion or fear, I can comprehend their point. Consequently, I have thought about the flag of Nazi Germany in comparison. To the vast majority of us, I would suppose, there is no useful justification for flying a swastika banner. What does it symbolize? Yet, I have also had friends who have one. Why? Because they, like me, enjoy military history. We have even simulated it through the many board and computer games known as wargames. So even though we do not support in any way, shape, or form nazi fascism, we do appreciate the military strategy, tactics, and sacrifices of all sides in that and many other eras. That said, I still would not fly or publicly display a nazi banner (I do not own one).

And because of the mixed messages and ease of misunderstanding, neither would I fly a Confederate flag.

SkyePuppy said...

THEBIGDOODY,

I'm glad you took the time to read my post and to reply. I'm not sure if we're at cross-purposes here or if it's just that our focus is in different places.

I came at this from my psychology-degree background, which prompts me sometimes to wonder why people would do seemingly irrational or counterproductive things--because there's always some benefit they get from what they do. So that was my question: What good feelings do Southern whites tap into when they fly the Confederate flag?

You said, "[T]here is nothing obvious to loathe about either, except for the historical desire to have and keep other men(kind) as slaves."

Do you really believe that Southern whites want to reinstitute slavery? Really? Because I don't see it.

What I do see is that people don't long for equality. We long to be better than other people. We want to do or be something to be proud of. People who are Losers in their adult life cling to the glory days of their youth, and the ones who had no glory days cling to the pride of their family or group history, and the ones who don't even have that tear other people down to make themselves feel "better."

You said: "The fact is that it's NOT ALL ABOUT racism/white supremacy, but it is inclusive of it."

You're right, and I think I just made the case for you.

The problem that I see with this issue is that for too many people it IS ALL ABOUT racism. They see it everywhere, including where it may not exist--or if it does, it's not the totality of what's there.

My attempt to explore the hearts of Southern whites was from a lack of direct knowledge (before this past winter, I hadn't been in the South since just after my 5th birthday--I'm 51 now--and it's a different world from the one I live in), which is why I went other places with flags, like Texas and Scotland.

As for the "enemies in West Africa," I meant that to include all the enemies, black and white. Too often, Europeans are given all the blame, when they were only 70% - 90% of the problem. A bit of my white defensiveness showing there...

Thanks again for stopping by. You're welcome anytime.

SkyePuppy said...

Chuck,

Outstanding point about the Nazi flag! Everybody would be ashamed to display it, outside the neo-Nazis and white supremacists, because of the pain it causes and the pure evil behind its heyday.

And that acknowledgement makes me wonder if I can leave the Confederate flag up on my post...

ChuckL said...

Hi SkyePuppy,
I certainly was not implying that your photo on this blog was inappropriate. Nor was I criticizing you in any way for having it as part of your post. Just want you to know that. Thanks!

Malott said...

This is a great post... But...

I refuse to get sucked into this maudlin, touchy-feely idea that the Confederate Flag is somehow evil.

If the people whining about the Confederate Flag had it totally banned, they would immediately begin bitching about something else.

There is a reason why every immigrant group arriving at our shores has invariably transcended and bettered our African Americans citizens - in spite of cultural and language barriers...

The reason, and the only reason: The attitude perpetuated by the politicization of their past plight.

...I refuse to add to the legitimization of this crippling attitude.

The Old South is not the moral equivalent of the Nazi Regime. Please! The extermination of a race isn't quite what the South had in mind.

The Confederate Flag and every other peripheral symbol or issue are just part of the "business" that race game has become.

And... If Barack Obama was a conservative Republican, he would not get a majority of the Black vote. The "Obama Effect" is all about politics.

THEBIGDODDY said...

"malot" says:

There is a reason why every immigrant group arriving at our shores has invariably transcended and bettered our African Americans citizens - in spite of cultural and language barriers...

I say:

First of all this is false, not to mention irrelevant and highly suspect given the funky way you put it out there.

Non-whites are closer to parity with whites than ANY other group in this country. This matter has nothing to do with one's lot in life.

So-called Jews have issues with the Swastika and other symbols of oppression and global patriarchal white supremacy and as a group they are faring much better than all of us, so don't even try it.

malot says;

"The reason, and the only reason: The attitude perpetuated by the politicization of their past plight."

I say:

ALL groups of people succumb to 'stinkin' thinkin' sir. I can give you tons of data regarding the way humans relate to one another that is definitely related to how they RECKON the world and themselves in it. This is nothing that is exclusive to any particular race or class of people.

malot says:

"...I refuse to add to the legitimization of this crippling attitude."

I say:

As a 43 year old non-white male I refuse to add to the legitimization of anything that exalts itself again the knowledge of the Most High, while still being able to show charity and goodwill at all times at all places in the known universe to ALL people (you should try it) without exception.

Decency is better than any aversion or attraction to symbols of ANY bygone era.

THEBIGDODDY said...

Hello the Skye..

You write:

"I'm glad you took the time to read my post and to reply. I'm not sure if we're at cross-purposes here or if it's just that our focus is in different places."

Perhaps..

skye says:
"What good feelings do Southern whites tap into when they fly the Confederate flag?"

I say:

For many, I think it's perhaps reverence to that era, at least. And for others, it may be something else. In any case, any sentiment that fallen man holds is likely to be good AND bad.

skye says:

"Do you really believe that Southern whites want to reinstitute slavery? Really? Because I don't see it."

No I do not. By the words and deed of men, which is a product of their thinking, it's indifference and lack of charity towards others that I typically point to when these things are discussed.

skye says:

"What I do see is that people don't long for equality. We long to be better than other people. We want to do or be something to be proud of. People who are Losers in their adult life cling to the glory days of their youth, and the ones who had no glory days cling to the pride of their family or group history, and the ones who don't even have that tear other people down to make themselves feel "better."

I say:

I see that as well, but are you relating that to Africans of unknown descent?

I'd say that many non-whites view the flag the way they do because it reminds them that the faces of the people who revere the flag are just like the faces of the people were complicit and participants in the dehumanization of people whose faces look like theirs.

So though non-whites know that slavery is not going to be re-instituted, but concerns over whether the reprobate spirit that permitted it and opposed its abolition would still guides the THINKING, which influences BEHAVIOR that would seek to overtly or covertly seek POLICY that would marginalize or devalue in OTHER ways other than man-seizing or forced involuntary labor.

skye says:
"The problem that I see with this issue is that for too many people it IS ALL ABOUT racism. They see it everywhere, including where it may not exist--or if it does, it's not the totality of what's there."

This is partly true, though I think being a swine-eater, a coward, a gossip, a liar, a tax evader, overweight, and being an adulterer is just as bad as being a racist. So my ideas of the failing of fallen man may differ. If a (ANY) person is not interested in producing justice and correctness at all times in all places in the known universe for ALL people without exception, then I personally have no respect or use for them.

Skye says:
"As for the "enemies in West Africa," I meant that to include all the enemies, black and white. Too often, Europeans are given all the blame, when they were only 70% - 90% of the problem. A bit of my white defensiveness showing there..."

I say:

Skye, the Bible says this in Jeremiah 17:9

"The heart of man is deceitful and desperately wicked, who really knows what it's capable of?"

The prophet is talking about man(KIND), not just the "white" man.

I put nothing past anybody because PEOPLE think they are good, when they are not. And since white people are the antagonists of Africans of unknown descent since the first one set foot here, there are ALWAYS going to be problems. The answer is a supernatural one, but since this nation is not really as god-fearing as people like to brag about (COGNITIVE DISSONANCE) it will remain our biggest blight and is going to get worse before it gets better. There has been no geniune REPENTANCE or VINDICATION for Americas greatest sins against Africans of unknown descent.

I personally am not interested in making anyone feeling guilty because guilt is actually a remnant of sin and it's not expedient for me to engage or cause another person to walk in sin. But when people lie about the state of mankind's relation to others of mankind, then I'll likely put my .02 cents in. Justice and correctness at all times... That's what this African of unknown descent cares about in WORD and DEED. Anyone who doesn't.. might get talked about by me. :)

skye says:

"Thanks again for stopping by. You're welcome anytime."

Thanks Skye. Your direction...examining the thinking behind behaviors is critical to promoting understanding amongst people...I encourage you to keep on keepin' on with that!

The Bible (yeah I know..) says that "as a man RECKONS, so is he".

The reason that many whites and non-whites are screwed up is not because they lack skill, but the way they THINK is goofy. Change the way a person THINKS about their lot in life and whoa...night and day.

SkyePuppy said...

Chuck,

I realize you weren't guilt-tripping me about the flag. But when I admitted to myself that you were right about the Nazi flag, I had to think about the Confederate flag and the pain its display can cause. My display of the flag wasn't necessary to my point, so I removed it. You were merely the catalyst, not the cause.

SkyePuppy said...

Chris,

I refuse to get sucked into this maudlin, touchy-feely idea that the Confederate Flag is somehow evil.

I don't believe the Confederate flag is evil either, but I was in a touchy-feely moment and couldn't bring myself to unknowingly inflict hurt on people. Better safe than sorry...

If Barack Obama was a conservative Republican, he would not get a majority of the Black vote.

You're absolutely right. A black Republican is not "one of us" to the wider black community.

SkyePuppy said...

THEBIGDODDY,

First, I apologize for misspelling your name. Those capital O's and D's looked too much alike, and I miscounted them.

"What I do see is that people don't long for equality. We long to be better than other people...."

I see that as well, but are you relating that to Africans of unknown descent?


No. I was referring to people in general, but more pointedly to the white Southerners who fly the Confederate flag. People who are living a great life and have a great future ahead tend not to cling to the past for reassurance of their worth. (My bronze medal from my high school speech tournament is in a box (or maybe I got rid of it a long time ago), not on display in my house.)

I'd say that many non-whites view the flag the way they do because it reminds them that the faces of the people who revere the flag are just like the faces of the people were complicit and participants in the dehumanization of people whose faces look like theirs.

That's why I removed the flag from my post, but that's also where the non-whites may be being unfair, by broad-brushing people on the basis of skin color:

I can't think of any reason besides sheer racism for someone to wear a white, hooded robe. None. It's hateful. But I've thought of some reasons that have nothing to do with race for someone to fly that flag. It is possible. Not everyone who flies it is racist, and to assume that they are because they look like the old slave-masters is unfair. It's just as unfair as devaluing people because their skin is too dark for one's taste.

People are all about themselves--all of us are, now that Mother Theresa is gone--and the things we do are for our own personal reasons. It's easy to "understand" our own motives but then to judge other people without giving the benefit of the same kind of "understanding." I'm not saying you're one of the judgers, just that there are too many "Racist!" screamers who are, and that turns conversations about race into a minefield.

And now, let me step on a mine...

There has been no geniune REPENTANCE or VINDICATION for Americas greatest sins against Africans of unknown descent.

Are you sure? The total disgust with which our society holds racists isn't geniune vindication that slavery was wrong and we were on the wrong side of it? The apologies by several of the Southern slave-holding states wasn't genuine repentance? Are you looking for reparations?

I'm not angry. I really just don't understand that statement, because as a white person, it makes it feel as though I will NEVER be out from under the sword of blame for slavery. No matter what America or white America does, it won't be enough. The hoops we have to jump through will never end, because someone somewhere won't be satisfied yet.

And I have no ties to slavery. Every branch on my family tree, except one, came to America around 1900. The other one left Kansas (non-slave state) in 1888 in a covered wagon to Tacoma, Washington, where he established a Restoration Movement Christian Church. But I'm held responsible for repenting for slavery, just like the rest of white America (while the descendants of black slave-holders aren't).

Exactly what is it we need to do to show genuine repentence and vindication for slavery? Is there really something we can do that will lift the burden for the final time, or am I stuck living out my life under that cloud? I suspect I'm stuck.

Sorry. You hit a nerve...

The bottom line that I see after your comments and my rant is that nobody but nobody is out from under some cloud here on earth. We all suffer (Jesus promised we'd have trouble, didn't He?) and are beaten about by life. All we can do is call on the Lord to help us do our best to straighten out the hurts we cause and to help others to find their way to Him. Because this world of turmoil won't be over for us until the day we walk in eternity.

Until then, may the Lord bless you and keep you.

Malott said...

Bigdoddy,

What percentage of Filippino immigrants are on welfare? What percentage of Indian immigrants are in prison? What percentage of Vietnamese immigrant children are illegit?

We are talking the United States, right?

We are all part of the human race and have the same genes... but the "stinkin thinkin' among African Americans, I suggest, is higher by percentage... And this poor attitude is perpetuated by the liberal "race game."

I feel sorry for generations of families, black or white, that are stuck in poverty. But pity, making excuses, throwing money at it... And picking fights over the Confederate Flag... isn't working.

THEBIGDODDY said...

That WAS some rant, skye..

When I said VINDICATION, that was not on the part of whites, but non-whites.

Vindication means to "free from allegation or blame".

Get it now? :)

THEBIGDODDY said...

:)

Malot,

What can I say to what you've written?

Your disdain for non-whites is duly noted.

What is going to be PRODUCED if I provide you data to the contrary. It's your THINKING and attitude about non-whites that is obviously the impetus for your sentiments.

I see nothing in any of your responses that indicate anything but indifference towards non-whites, and I said in my earlier response to Skye, that, "if you are not interested in producing JUSTICE and CORRECTNESS at all times in all places in the known universe for all people without exception, then I have no use for you".

And I meant that.

What good would it do to defend the virtues of non-whites to those who believes we have none. That would be retarded, wouldn't it?

SkyePuppy said...

THEBIGDODDY,

That WAS some rant, skye..

Yes, it was.

I've got it now on vindication. I'm usually good with big words, but I missed your intended source that time. Oops.

SkyePuppy said...

Malott/BigDoddy,

Years ago I heard of a study that found that blacks in America that came here from the Caribbean (eg, Sidney Poitier) and their descendants have a much higher standard of living than American blacks as a whole. The study was widely reported as being valid and saying Something Important.

But this study was a piece of crap (pardon my language). It took the most ambitious people from the Caribbean (they had the drive and ability to leave their home and no doubt passed that on to their children) and compared them to the total population of black America. Of course black America would get the short end of the comparison stick! They were including all the helpless and hopeless people in one group and ignoring them in the other.

The only way to make the comparison a valid one would be to go back to the Caribbean and check the success of the helpless, hopeless blacks and average them with the Sidney Poitiers here in America. I daresay Sidney might not look quite as good.

Chris, I suspect your view of the success of Philippinos et al, is shaped a bit the way the study was. It isn't fair to compare immigrants of any group to a whole population of another. Chances are the jailbirds and addicts in the Philippines and India don't get the chance to come to America.

Malott said...

Skyepuppy,

You express a valid point.

Malott said...

Bigdoddy,

I'm sure there is much I could learn from you. Please don't confuse "indifference" with my honest "concern" for the American Black Family which was healthier and more "intact" before liberals endeavored to fix things.

THEBIGDODDY said...

Malot..

I'm not saying that there are not issues with individuals.

Hell, I remember having to reconcile my feelings about my own Father just minutes before he died in my arms after fighting a battle with Cancer.

In my opinion, he was rather weak, and couldn't take the pressure of having to keep us under roof.

He was a coal miner who had "Black Lung" and I watched him dally around for years when I was in High School waiting for his settlement to end so he could get a "Black Lung check". Not that he wasn't entitled to it seeing as that disease claimed a generation of miners, but all he DID was wait. I had to go to college part time to help out until the "check"(s) finally came.

I resented that.

Which is why I may NEVER retire. I will NEVER be broke and always have a means.

So it's not like I don't know how the entitlement mentality works, but not ALL non-whites are sitting around waiting for a check. The ones that do, simply aren't worth a squirt of pee-eye-double-SS in my book.

Malott said...

Bigdoddy,

My condolences. I've still got my dad... Though he is in his eighties... I treasure him and will lose so much when he passes.

Non-whites, as you describe them, are as diverse as the history of mankind... I understand that.

I place blame on a "system" that reduces and dilutes responsibility... And the toll it has taken on the poor in this country... That cruel system is hard to forgive.

ChuckL said...

It certainly gets complicated & convoluted discussing issues of racial & cultural differences. Like many others, I am offended when I am generically lumped in as a "racial bigot" simply because of my own race. I know it not to be true, but because I do not wave the flag of affirmative action entitlements, I am the recipient of a few accusations of racial bias.

As both thebigdoddy & malott indicate for themselves, I am for personal responsibility & accountability for personal actions. I have seen & worked with way too many so-called "non-whites," especially in the military, who have been sterling successes because of their personal drive & motivation. We never sat around talking about past atrocities or failed reparations; our focus was on how to get the job at hand done better than ever before. Because of their promotions because of their pursuit to excellence, I have saluted and said, "Aye, aye, sir!" to many a "non-white" senior officer. I have done so with nothing but the highest respect on my part. Personally, in our contemporary American society, I firmly believe that these public political accusations of racism that are raised up most every election season are bogus strawmen. Unfortunately, having been raised, they must continually be dealt with.

Some of thebigdoddy's comments about never being broke caused me to think of Larry Winget's book, "You're Broke Because You Want to Be," that I read recently. He's a "tough-love" guy, but he makes the point that I think we are agreeing on here: when we don't take responsibility for our decisions & actions, bad things happen. When we do, all things being equal, better things happen.

THEBIGDODDY said...

Great comments...

The only thing I'd add to this as some food for thought to many white people is to not STOP using this language with dealing with non-whites.

Reparations
Victimization
Entitlement
Affirmative Action
Personal Responsibility

In my assignments to engage and observe faith-based (primarily) and some political forums, it's categorically white people who use those words. And it's the white conservative Christians who yield this terminology like weapons of disdain and indifference.

I participate in focus and study groups all over with extremely devout non-whites and even younger, less refined non-whites and it's rare that any of them talk about "reparations", "victimization", "entitlement" and such. The ones that do are usually put to task on what steps they as INDIVIDUALS take to be righteous.

As well, the common and petty use of "racism" is also frowned upon by the majority of people I engage with in GENERAL context.

The typical white person tends to be just as common and petty as the typical non-white person in that the crux seems to be that people are afraid that someone is going to take something away from them as opposed to "giving" them something.

The fact of the matter is that Reparations would cause bloodshed in this country. It would NEVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER happen and SHOULDN'T. America's complicity in the slave trade and subsequent Jim Crow culture was arguably the most grievous thing it's ever done. Put "reparations" in the mix, and it would be categorically worse, and even though I think that America is separated from the Almighty in spirit and deed, I don't think even He would allow such a thing to occur.

As the discussion indicated on LaShawn Barbers blog about the GOP party and the "black" vote. Non-whites don't vote the way they do because Dems give handouts and Repubs won't. It's because the people, the faces of the party tend so have words coming out of their mouths that is foul regarding non-whites in general. Believe or not, even many very conservative non-whites tend to engage with the party, in general, with, not because they don't share the same principles, but the same HEART for ALL Americans, as EVIDENCED by their ATTITUDES and BEHAVIOR. And not to rail on conservative Christians again, but they consistently blow their witness when they engage in political confab because it seems that something trashy and scandalous is always falling out of their mouth. THIS is why they are avoided by non-whites, not because they won't give us "freebies" or be our "nanny".

I (and many others like me) would rather have nothing than to be shoulder to shoulder with trashy and ugly people, of ANY persuasion.

And to add, I think that non-whites are MUCH quicker to distance themselves for the ugliest elements amongst us. For example, even those people who kinda understood what Jeremiah Wright was intending to day, it's categorically recognized as foul and ill-timed, whereas Pat Buchanan is revered amongst whites, because he supposedly speaks "truth" regarding "blacks" being lazy, ungrateful to be here, and 'unpatriotic'.

It's words and deeds that separate, not a flawed sense of entitlement and ungodly slovenly behaviors amongst "blacks" that is most prevalent.

ChuckL said...

Bigdoddy,

I sort of got lost in and out of your last reply. Sorry. But a couple or so thoughts came to mind. (1) The best "reparation / entitlement" that can be given is to allow EVERYONE the OPPORTUNITY to use their personal and collective intelligence, ambition, and motivation to improve their lives and the lives of others to the fullest extent possible. No racial barriers at all! Such goals can be fulfilled through entrepreneurship (sp?), volunteer services, or whatever. (2) I continue to be confused why the Republican party is perceived as so racially biased and bigoted by some. I'm not trying to portray any political party as "perfect," but the Republican party currently has "minorities" (in all truth, I hate tossing around these descriptors, which is why I use the quotation marks here; we're just people, & Americans in particular) serving quite a few high-level positions. Their qualifications are impeccable. They are there because they have proven over and over that they can do a job, not because some artificial quota needed to be fulfilled. (3) Concerning your comments about conservative Christians & politics... By necessity, a lot of what we address are rather broad brushstrokes. I, too, cringe at some comments made by some who are identified as conservative Christians. Of course, context and consistancy always need to be considered. Those who I hear from the most indicate no sense of racial prejudice or bigotry.

ChuckL said...

I about fell out of my chair when I began reading this article (and thought of this discussion):

*****
One of the unappreciated casualties of the War of 1861, erroneously called a Civil War, was its contribution to the erosion of constitutional guarantees of state sovereignty. It settled the issue of secession, making it possible for the federal government to increasingly run roughshod over Ninth and 10th Amendment guarantees. A civil war, by the way, is a struggle where two or more parties try to take over the central government. Confederate President Jefferson Davis no more wanted to take over Washington, D.C., than George Washington wanted to take over London. Both wars are more properly described as wars of independence.
*****

If I had not already unavoidably seen the name of the author, I would have thought that I had gotten mail from some "southern, confederate flag-waving, save-your-dixie-cups-cause-the-south-is-going-to-rise-again zealot." And I have known a few in my time - most kidding around, but some a bit more serious.

There could not be a more inaccurate description of the author, who is the respected economist and professor Dr. Walter E. Williams. This is why I dove into this article, by the way; I NEVER hesitate to read anything that he writes.

Now, I can categorically declare that Dr. Williams would have nothing but disdain for the institution of slavery. I am certain that I could find an article or ten by him about the economic stupidity of slavery. Dr. Williams is one of the most solid apologists for American liberty and freedom I know.

Interesting, then, that he would categorize the Civil War - er, War of 1861 - as a war of independence. He does so because of the Constitutional point that he makes. The entire article can be found at

http://www.gmu.edu/
departments/economics/
wew/articles/08/
Oklahoma%20Rebellion.htm

THEBIGDODDY said...

My point, in general, is that REPARATIONS will never happen, and I hardly ever hear non-whites talking about it.

If ANY white person thinks that non-whites spend much time considering or longing for it (reparations) they are mistaken, and are merely projecting their own fears and guilt.

The non-whites who DO talk about it are ones that the rest don't really pay too much attention to anyway.

Moreover, it is in a symbolic sense that its brought up because white folks generally have little sympathy or compass about the tragedy and legacy of slavery, unlike the contrition regarding the Holocaust or the Japanese-American Internment camps.

In all fairness, I can truly see why hearts are hardened about it since it seems to be thrown in your faces all the time.

As I said before, more that not, Slavery is discussed in terms of its impacts to families, and it's psychologies, more than about WHO or WHAT started the ball rolling.

A lack of contrition or vindication.. well thats mutually exclusive.

Every person who was involved or complicit in slavery DURING THAT TIME, will be judged by Father Yahweh, so I don't even worry about it.

My focus is on whether TODAY, people are interested in producing justice and correctness at all times in all places in the known universe to ALL people, without exception. If you are not interested in doing any of that, then you are no good. Period.

SkyePuppy said...

THEBIGDODDY,

I'm glad to hear that regular-guy non-whites don't talk about reparations. But unless you think nobody is paying attention to Barack Obama, you're mistaken that the big names aren't talking about it. Obama said this at the Unity '08 minority conference (quoting from this WSJ article):

"I personally would want to see our tragic history, or the tragic elements of our history, acknowledged," the Democratic presidential hopeful said.

"I consistently believe that when it comes to whether it's Native Americans or African-American issues or reparations, the most important thing for the U.S. government to do is not just offer words, but offer deeds."


That sounds like he's calling for reparations.

Previous to this statement, the only one I remember mentioning it was (I think) Al Sharpton, and I'd like to believe nobody pays attention to him.

I'd like to know how slavery is impacting families today. Back in the '20s to the '60s, minority families were more intact, with much lower out-of-wedlock birth rates. So I don't see how you can put the decay of families at the feet of slavery and not at the feet of the Great Society and its welfare structure. Self-sufficiency used to be the order of the day.

I'm with you on wanting justice and correctness for everyone. The concern is that different people disagree on the specifics of what that means. For my part, I'm very aware that I'm accountable to the Lord for how I treat everybody.

Glad you came back!

ChuckL said...

Thebigdoddy writes: "My point, in general, is that REPARATIONS will never happen, and I hardly ever hear non-whites talking about it..."

Thank you for the clarification.