South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley signed a law that made possible the removal of the Confederate battle flag from the South Carolina State House. On Friday, July 10th, history was made. The flag came down. But it seems the nation is getting a bit carried away with anti-Confederate sentiment.
In response to the recent murders of nine African Americans in the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, TV-Land canceled its reruns of the southern based comedy, “Dukes of Hazzard”, which originally aired on CBS from 1979-1985. While TV-Land did not specify why it yanked the show from its schedule, one can only speculate the move was fueled by fear of anti-southern backlash. After-all, the characters of Bo and Luke Duke tore up the screen in the “General Lee,” a red-orange Dodge Charger with the Confederate flag on top. Subsequently, Warner Brothers announced it would cease producing toy replicas of the “General Lee.” Actor John Schneider (Bo Duke) expertly summed up popular reaction to TV-Land's agenda. “The Dukes of Hazzard was and is no more seated in racism than “Breaking Bad” was a show seated in reality,” Schneider said.
Bravo, Mr. Schneider! “The Dukes of Hazzard” was fiction, for heaven's sake! If we are going to erase all references to the Confederacy in television fiction, what's next? Will the TCM network cease airing “Gone With the Wind” because zealots take issue with Scarlett O'Hara and the iconic Tara Plantation? Going forward, will writers be forbidden to create antebellum fiction or programming? Granted, that seems implausible, and “The Dukes of Hazzard” is definitely not in the same league as “Gone With the Wind”, but canceling the tongue in cheek series smacks of censorship, and that's a dangerous road.
As is attempting to erase our nation's Confederate past. And that's what it is...the past. Imposing 21st century mindset on 19th century society is rewriting history!
The internet is replete with reports of growing anti-Confederate sentiment. Retailers, including Etsy, Amazon, and Ebay now prohibit the sale of items featuring the stars and bars. Afraid customers will construe the Confederate flag as a racist symbol, The National Park Service adopted a pre-emptive approach and asked vendors to remove products solely featuring the Confederate flag. The Atlanta, Georgia chapter of the NAACP is calling for the elimination of Confederate generals from the Confederate Memorial at Stone Mountain, Georgia, often called the “Confederate Mount Rushmore,” and proposes sandblasting away the images of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and Stonewall Jackson. In New Orleans, the city council has begun legal proceedings to remove Confederate landmarks from the city, including a statue of Jefferson Davis and a 131 year old statue of General Robert E. Lee. According to the New Orleans Advocate, Mayor Mitch Landrieu justified the proceedings as such: “To maintain these symbols as we move toward our future seems to belie our progress and does not reflect who we truly are or who we want to be.” Fancy, carefully crafted words...but wrong. While Confederate symbols do not reflect who we are or who we want to be, they in no way belie our progress. As touchstones of the past, reflections of who were, reminders of who we don't want to be again, Confederate symbols propel us forward. Remove them, erase our nation's painful history, and we are destined to repeat our mistakes.
Was the Civil War tragic? Indeed! Were Confederate morals misguided? Definitely. Were the actions of slave holders and supporters offensive? Yes. Do I regard the Confederate flag and related southern symbols as racist? No, I don't. Confederate symbols should be viewed in context. When I look at the stars and bars, I see 19th century racism that reasonable, present-day individuals recognize as part of our American past. History, my friends, is not selective. Picking and choosing what we keep from our past is like tearing distasteful pages out of a history book; do so and the tale no longer makes any sense. And we must make sense of what has gone before in order to understand former motivations and direct our future. Our history, good and bad, has tremendous value and should not be obliterated by rampant anti-Confederate sentiment or swept away by an unchecked, politically correct bandwagon.