A Different World

Similarities between how the n-word and Confederate flag are used in the U.S.

I’ve made my personal feelings known about the flag, and why so many black South Carolinians have never wanted it to have a place of honor at the State House, a place that represents us all.

A few other thoughts:

- I don’t think stores should stop selling the Confederate flag the way so many have decided to, including Walmart - the largest private employer in Horry County - Sears, Amazon, eBay and others. Selling a product I’d never buy doesn’t offend me and wouldn’t stop me from shopping at those places.

- I definitely think it is a wrong-headed move to take the flag off the roof of the iconic “General Lee” from “The Dukes of Hazzard.” Black and white Southerners grew up loving that show, even while the flag a prominent place on top of that car. That move is unnecessary.

- If NASCAR really wanted to attract a more diverse audience, as it claims, then trying to tamp down on the presence of the flag at their races make sense. But if we are to be honest, NASCAR is likely going to be a largely white, Southern past-time, even with tangential black fans like me always hanging around.

- The way we debate the Confederate flag is quite similar to how we debate the n-word. Both are symbols of something deeper and haunting, the flag of this country’s dark history of slavery, the n-word this country’s dark history of its treatment of those with dark skin.

I know good people who use the n-word, and I know good people who revere the Confederate flag.

In each case, people have tried to reclaim the symbol, with white Southerners who have ancestors who fought for the South trying to scrub the flag of its clear association with slavery and the Ku Klux Klan, and young black dudes who say they are de-fanging the n-word of its long history of ugliness. In each case, there are people who claim neither should ever be uttered or seen in public, while others demand a more nuanced view. I’m in the latter camp. The flag should not be flying at the State House, a place that represents all South Carolinians.

But beyond that, I want its use based upon individual preference, with each person understanding that if they choose to use or display it, not everyone will like it. That’s how I feel about the use of the n-word.

- Given that reality about race here in the United States, why is there no similar effort at nuance when it comes to the symbol of the Nazi party, a flag that, before the Nazis claimed it, represented peace?

This is messy and complicated, just as our history with race long has been. That’s as it should be.

Here’s something to think about:

“Dukes of Hazzard” was so accepted in the black community, an iconic rap song was later made about “Daisy Dukes.