When our older son purchased his first vehicle, he was about sixteen years old. He wanted a pickup truck and found a 1984 Dodge that appeared to be a dependable vehicle. After he purchased it, he began making modifications. I recall he put lifts on it and he painted it a dull camouflage green. (There were other things as well that I’ve likely forgotten.) He loved that vehicle. The picture below isn’t his truck, but a similar version.We were glad he enjoyed spending time fixing up his truck and making it an expression of his personality. However, we put our foot down when it came to one specific attachment he’d planned – he wanted to hang a Confederate battle flag in the rear window. We told him we thought that was an especially bad idea.
Lest any reader jump to conclusions, this young man didn’t intend to incite or anger anyone. Our son was born the same year The Dukes of Hazzard television show debuted. The show ran for seven seasons and played thereafter in countless reruns. Hardly a high-brow show, our children enjoyed the tongue-in-cheek nature of the show. The camaraderie between dark-haired Luke and blond-haired Bo also appealed to our boys (and even our girls).
Atop the iconic General Lee, the 1969 Dodge Charger driven by cousins Luke and Bo, a Confederate battle flag was emblazoned. For our son, displaying that flag in his truck was a way of identifying with the Dukes … and probably fostered our son’s vision for enjoying his truck as much as the Dukes enjoyed the General Lee.
But my Beloved and I urged our son to keep the flag off his back window. We acknowledged it might be flash point with other teenage boys seeking to pick a fight. If you’ve ever had teenage boys, you know what that’s all about, I’m sure.
The current debate about the Confederate battle flag reminded me about this event in our son’s life. We do live in the South and three of our four children were born south of the Mason-Dixon line. Not one of them holds negative attitudes toward people of other races. Our Christian faith teaches us that every life is precious. This is what we believe and this is what we practice.
As I reflected on this current brouhaha and the call for removal of the flag from its place at the South Carolina state house, I thought it was an apt example of symbol over substance. Because a murderer posted pictures with the flag and expressed racist attitudes, the broad brush of identity politics paints all of us into the racist corner.
The murderer also drove a dark 2000 Hyundai Elantra GS. Will the hysteria-mongers insist that every other 2000 Hyundai Elantra GS be taken off the streets of our nation and put into a crusher? Of course not. That would be ridiculous. This murderer also wore clothes and probably brushed his teeth everyday. Is it time to ditch our clothing and skip minimal dental hygiene?
So now, the Confederate battle flag will be purged from every possible place it might once have been displayed. The hysteria-mongers and perpetually-offended complainers will pat themselves on their backs and move on to the next symbol they consider offensive. Just as the radical ISIS militants are destroying priceless and historic artifacts on their quest back to the Dark Ages, the symbols of our own history are gradually being dismantled and destroyed to accommodate complainers.
Where will it end?