R-E-S-P-E-C-T

My social media accounts have been filling up over the last few days with angry screeds from "friends" who have been encouraged by our president to rage against the idea of athletes exercising their First Amendment rights to peacefully protest injustice. Typically, on Facebook, they post a picture of themselves surrounded by flag images stating "I stand!"

I fully respect their right to express their opinions, but I confess that I have a few questions about their sincerity. 

You see, many of these same people have in recent months been filling up my social media news feeds with images of Confederate flags and Confederate generals, angrily denouncing anyone who would argue that the public display and aggrandizement of these artifacts is inappropriate. And, of course, there have been the impassioned reimaginings of the Civil War as a defense of "states' rights" not slavery and of Robert E. Lee as a "good" slave owner whose slaves actually loved him. And now these same people are preaching to us about how we should "respect the flag"!



All I can say is, if you believe that any of this outrage is on behalf of the flag, you haven't been paying attention. 

I grew up in Mississippi. Racial prejudice was in the very air that I breathed when I was growing up. It wasn't something that was ever discussed or debated. It was simply the accepted norm. In my teenage years, as I looked at the world around me and began thinking for myself, I could see the effects of that prejudice and how it created what Professor James Silver of the University of Mississippi wrote of as "the closed society". (Mississippi: The Closed Society by James W. Silver) Dissent was discouraged and stifled; the state's citizens - at least its white citizens - engaged in groupthink.

I see that same kind of groupthink on a much larger scale among a segment of American society today. They follow their leaders blindly without questioning or thinking for themselves. They attack anyone who thinks differently. And once again, I believe, the bedrock of today's groupthink is that same racial prejudice and xenophobia that I witnessed as a child.

Bottom line: Their anger isn't about disrespect to the flag. After all, kneeling in front of the flag is hardly disrespectful. No, their anger is about black athletes having the temerity to protest the injustices that black men and boys and sometimes women (Yes, I remember you, Sandra Bland!) suffer at the hands of police every day. Hardly a month goes by that we don't hear of another unarmed African-American citizen being killed in a questionable traffic stop or other police action.

So, forgive me, Facebook friends, if I question the sincerity of your R-E-S-P-E-C-T for the F-L-A-G. I see it instead as your D-I-S-R-E-S-P-E-C-T for people who you see as the "other" and, perhaps even more significantly, your disrespect for the Constitution.

I respect the flag. My bad knees would hardly allow me to kneel in front of it, so I guess I'll continue to stand. But more importantly, I stand for the Constitution.   

Comments

  1. Very well written. Couldn't have said it better myself.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you for your insight on this matter. I am an African American woman from Georgia and my African American husband is from Mississippi same as yourself. You have so clearly explained the truths in this situation intentionally started by this demon possessed man who thrives on division and confusion. BTW, I have been a reader of your blog for four years and I love them all. Thanks again.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for reading and thank you for your comment, Shirley.

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